In honor of the New Year, thousands of fireworks will soon sound. However, few people know what they are and what generally happens during an explosion of pyrotechnics. Paul E. Smith, a chemist and president of the International Guild of Pyrotechnics, spoke about this.
The very first component of fireworks, the author writes, is explosive black powder. It was discovered by Chinese alchemists, more than a thousand years ago. At the same time, its composition has practically not changed by now. For this, 75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal, 10% sulfur are mixed.
As a result, after being ignited, the sulfur first melts at 235 F (112.8 C). The sulfur then passes through potassium nitrate and charcoal, which start to burn. As a result, an explosion occurs.
In addition, special chemicals are also used to color the fireworks in different colors. These are strontium (gives red color), barium (green), copper (blue), etc. Also, aluminum, magnesium and titanium make it possible to obtain white sparks, iron – gold, various types of charcoal – red, orange.
Finally, there are various sound effects that need to be said. It can be a crash, a whistle, an explosion. For this, special formulas are also used.