What are Fireworks? Unless you have been living under a rock for several centuries, chances are that you know a thing or two about fireworks. They are the ones that are lit during special occasions such as New Year. They give off bright and colorful lights which never fail to give people a sense of awe and wonder. But aside from those things, can something more be said about fireworks? Actually, there are a lot of topics which can be discussed about them but we’ll start with the most basic ones. First of all, fireworks aim to produce three primary effects which are noise, light and smoke. It is evident in every firework although the amount of each effect varies. Take for example a simple firecracker. It is a form of firework which produces a lot of noise and maybe smoke but only a little light is produced. Then there are the different colors emitted by fireworks. These colors are produced by using certain compounds. A particular compound emits a certain color when exposed to a flame. For example, red is produced by putting strontium or lithium into the firework while a gold flame can be produced by using charcoal, iron or lampblack. Finally, there’s the issue of safety. When handled incorrectly, fireworks can cause fire and even mutilation of body parts especially in the case of more powerful varieties. Safe practices should therefore be done when handling them such as mechanically lighting them and keeping them away from flammable materials.
Fireworks Festivals Around the World When the Chinese invented fireworks, they used them during celebrations to keep the evil spirits away. The purpose still rings true today because all around the world, fireworks are still used to celebrate major events like the New Year. Below is a list of some of the famous celebrations and festivals which are known for their fantastic fireworks displays. 1. New Year’s Eve (worldwide) - throughout the world, the New Year is ushered in with a lot of excitement. Every country usually celebrates it with massive fireworks display. Sydney, Australia, is one of the first countries to celebrate it due to their location relative to the world’s time zones. 2. Fourth of July (United States) - is a holiday celebrating the country’s declaration of independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. Throughout the United States, fireworks displays are held especially in the major cities such as Washington DC, Detroit and St. Louis. 3. Singapore Fireworks Celebrations (Singapore) - this is an annual event held in celebration of the country’s National Day. Pyrotechnics teams are invited to this event to create fireworks displays on different nights. 4. Guy Fawkes Night (Great Britain and several former British colonies) - in 1605, Guy Fawkes tried to assassinate the King of England by placing some 30 barrels of gunpowder in the cellar of the Parliament of England. He failed and was captured. On the same day every year, people from Great Britain and some of its former colonies celebrate the event by having fireworks displays.
Where Colors of Fireworks Come From Have you ever wondered where the colors of fireworks come from? Wonder no more because we have provided you with a comprehensive list of the elements needed to create specific colors in fireworks. To start with, the colors of fireworks depend on added compounds to the black powder. A specific compound creates a particular color. It’s then up to the manufacturer to choose the color effect that a firework aims to create. Below is a list of the common colors used in fireworks and the compounds that give off a specific hue. 1. Red - this color is achieved by mixing either strontium or lithium salts to the gunpowder. Strontium gives off a bright shade of red while lithium a fainter one. 2. Gold - want a golden glow in your fireworks? Mixing iron, charcoal or lampblack will produce a golden light. 3. Blue - producing this color needs compounds such copper compounds combined with a chlorine producer, and copper acetoarsenite. 4. Purple - had enough with the common colors? Mix strontium (the compound that produces red) and copper (compound that produces blue) and you have yourself a purple flash of light. 5. Silver - if you want to imitate the color of lightning, add either aluminum, titanium or magnesium to the mix and you will have silver. There are other compounds added to regular gunpowder to produce different-colored fireworks. The ones listed above, however, are the most common. Keep in mind though that you shouldn’t try mixing them with gunpowder by yourself, unless you are guided by a professional or a professional yourself. Mishandling fireworks can be potentially dangerous.
How Fireworks Work There are a wide variety of fireworks available in the market. Each produces a different effect depending on how they were set up and the materials used in making them. In spite of their variety, they operate on basic principles which apply to each and every firework. This article will give you a glimpse of how firecrackers work. It begins with learning about the three basic types of fireworks: the firecracker, sparklers and the aerial fireworks. Firecrackers are the oldest and the most basic of all three. The Chinese first created them by stuffing gunpowder in hollow bamboo tubes. Typical firecrackers consist of gunpowder or flash powder which is then tightly packed into a tube. A fuse serves to light the powder inside. Sometimes, manufacturers add materials such as aluminum to make the explosion bright. Meanwhile sparklers simply emit bright flashes of light. They are designed to burn brightly for a long time unlike firecrackers which usually just blow up in a fraction of a second. Finally, there are the aerial fireworks. They are probably the most common form of fireworks since they are the ones used during celebrations such as the New Year and, in the United States, the Fourth of July. Among the three, aerial fireworks are the most complex. They are usually composed of a container, a bursting charge at the center which ignites the stars located on its side, and the fuse which determines how high the fireworks can fly. Different compounds are used in the stars to create different colors.
History of Fireworks The history of fireworks is as colorful as the flashes of light that they emit. This article will deal with the history of fireworks, from its discovery to its modern uses. China is recognized as the birthplace of fireworks. However, the exact date of its invention, as well as the discovery of gunpowder (an important element used in fireworks) is greatly debated by historians. Some say that it goes as far back as 2000 years ago, while others peg it at a much later time during the Middle Ages. The Chinese mainly used fireworks for entertainment purposes. Those considered as the first firecrackers were bamboo tubes filled with gunpowder which were then thrown into the flame. The loud noise that these firecrackers, and other subsequent fireworks, emitted was believed to drive away evil spirits. That is why the Chinese usually use them to usher in a new year. Use of fireworks eventually spread westward, initially to the Middle East then later on to Europe. The first recorded use of fireworks in Europe was sometime during the 13th century. While the Chinese used fireworks for entertainment, the Europeans used it for military purposes. It was at this time when guns were invented. The Europeans, too, spearheaded the development of fireworks. They studied it closely and even had schools built specifically for that purpose - one was in Italy while the other was in Nuremberg, Germany. Today, fireworks continue to be a significant part of major celebrations such as the New Year. There are even international festivals dedicated to showcasing fireworks displays.
Make Your Own Fireworks: Firecrackers Firecrackers are considered to be the oldest type of fireworks. The Chinese invented them by packing gunpowder into bamboo tubes and throwing them into flames. They then popped and made loud noises. These noises, the ancient Chinese believed, drove away evil spirits. Firecrackers operate on a very simple principle and just about anyone with the right materials can make them. But before that, a word of caution. Some of the materials used in making firecrackers are highly-flammable. Therefore, extra care should be taken when making your own firecracker. First, you should have the materials needed in making a firecracker. You need gunpowder, a cardboard tube long enough to hold the powder, end plugs to seal both ends of the tube, and finally, a fuse. These materials can be bought from craft shops and pyrotechnics specialty stores. Keep in mind, however, that when buying a tube, you should buy one that’s small enough to make a decent noise but not large enough to create a powerful explosion. Now, when you already have the materials, it’s time to start making your firecracker. First, you will have to plug one end of the tube. After that, tightly pack the tube with as much gunpowder as you can. Once that’s done, you have to put a hole on the other end plug to accommodate the fuse. Insert the fuse into the hole and close the tube with the fused end plug. Voila! You now have your own firecracker! By following this guide, we hope that you will be responsible enough to check your local laws for what’s legal and not in your area. Also, make sure to handle your materials well to prevent injuries and fires.
Harmful Effects of Fireworks Fireworks can be good to look at. However, if they are handled or used improperly, they could produce harmful effects. Each person should therefore be aware of those effects in order to effectively avoid them when handling fireworks. Below are some of the harmful effects of fireworks. 1. They can cause injuries - when mishandled, fireworks can cause injuries to humans and to pets. In fact, thousands are injured annually because of this. There are even cases where amputation is needed because of fireworks-related injuries. 2. They can cause fires - care should be taken when lighting fireworks in places where there are highly-flammable materials. It also goes without saying that they should not be lit indoors and in grassy areas. 3. They contribute to air pollution - fireworks use chemical compounds to produce different colors. However, large quantities of them can be harmful to human beings and to the environment. They should therefore be used only in reasonable amounts. 4. Can cause distress to animals - it has been shown that animals, dogs in particular, feel distressed by the loud noises created by fireworks. While it cannot be avoided entirely, what pet owners can do is to hide pets in a room where the noise is the least audible. The debate on the harmful effects of fireworks still rages. While one camp pushes for a total ban of its use, a compromise can be made by regulating it. In doing so, the harmful effects of fireworks will be lessened by a great deal.
Types of Fireworks Ever since fireworks were invented by the Chinese, there have been a multitude of varieties created by pyrotechnics experts throughout the years. In fact, when you visit a big fireworks specialty store, you might feel like a kid left in a toy store because of all the assortments of fireworks that you may find there. Below are some of the most common fireworks that you can usually find in the market. 1. Firecrackers - this is the earliest type of firework created by the Chinese. It is basically a fused black powder packed in a tube. When lit, it produces loud noise. 2. Sparkler - as its name suggests, fireworks of this kind create a sparkling effect when lit. They burn brightly for a long time and give off sparks of light. 3. Cake – is a type of firework which produces different sound and visual effects. 4. Fountain - a type of firework which shoots up sparks several meters into the air. 5. Waterfalls - are probably one of the most fantastic types of fireworks out there. They are suspended and held by a rope and when lit, produce a big wall of light that resembles a waterfall. 6. Roman candle - a smaller version of the cake, the roman candle shoots up balls of light in succession. A group of roman candles is called a battery and a fan-shaped one is called a bouquet. 7. Aerial shell - is another popular type of firework. The shell is shot in the air and bursts mid-flight. Patterns of colors are then created.
Fireworks Safety The safety of using fireworks has been the subject of debates over the years. Annually, more than hundreds are injured because of fireworks, with some victims needing to have parts of their body amputated due to the power of the blast. But injuries aren’t the only concern when it comes to handling fireworks. Since fireworks are composed of highly-flammable materials, there is also the risk of them causing fire. It is especially the case when they are poorly stored just like what happened in the Philippines in December 2007 when several stores selling fireworks were burned down because a firework was accidentally lit. Because of these, several countries regulate the use of fireworks in their territory. In the United States for example, the use of fireworks is allowed although it is up to each state on how they will regulate the use of them. The National Council on Fireworks Safety is a US-based organization that aims to promote fireworks safety. Below is a list of their advice in handling fireworks. - Fireworks should not be lit indoors especially sparklers. Doing this is potentially hazardous to people and may cause fire when thrown into flammable materials or surfaces. - Only persons who are over 12 are to be allowed in handling sparklers since these fireworks can cause injury if handled incorrectly. - People shouldn’t mix drinking alcohol and lighting fireworks. Drinking alcohol slows down a person’s reaction time and could be dangerous when handling fireworks. - Finally, people are told to use their common sense. A little bit of caution is also encouraged.
International Fireworks Competitions A fireworks competition is a great way for pyrotechnics companies to compete for prizes and to showcase their talents and their products to audiences worldwide. These companies are often invited by organizers in order to highlight an event or to promote tourism in the area. Below is a list of some of the well-known international fireworks competitions as well as short descriptions about them. 1. Montreal Fireworks Festival - officially known as L’International des Feux Loto-Quebec, this competition began in 1985. Since then, it has become one of best-known fireworks competitions around the world. Winners of this event are given the so-called Gold, Silver and Bronze Jupiter Awards. They are judged on the quality of their fireworks display, the synchronization, the artistic concept behind the presentation and the audience’s general appreciation. 2. World Pyro Olympics - is an annual fireworks competition held at the Manila Bay in Manila, Philippines. This competition runs for five days wherein two participants create fireworks displays on each day. Awards given include the People’s Choice and the Champion. 3. Celebration of Light - is another fireworks competition that is held annually in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. It is held for four nights over a two-week period from July to August. Unlike usual fireworks competitions, there is an added element of music to which the fireworks display is set. 4. Tarragona International Fireworks Display Competition - is considered as one of the most famous tourist attractions in Spain. Six international pyrotechnics companies join this competition in July every year to compete for the much-coveted prize.