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By Cole Domann
    The invention of Gunpowder.
•   Invented accidentally by Chinese cook.
•   First firework probably a closed bamboo
    tube with gunpowder inside.
•   Figured out that if a hole was in the
    bottom of tube it would fly up.
•   Chemists developed modern mixture of
    75% salt peter (which comes from bat
    dung), 15% Charcoal, and 10% sulphur
    (still used more than 1000 years later).
     Invention of Firecrackers
•   Started as gunpowder in bamboo tubes.
•   Progressed to gunpowder in paper tubes
    with tissue paper fuses.
•   “ground rats” were invented to scare
    enemies in war
•   Rats ran around in unpredictable
    patterns and sometimes flew up in the
•   Chinese put guide fins on the rats which
    led to rockets.
    Advancements in fireworks.
•   Gunpowder and fireworks brought to the
    west by explorers.
•   Italians try to advance the science of
•   Until the 1800’s fireworks were still
    missing one key component of fireworks
    we all know and love…
Pyrotechnicians experiment with chemicals to
    create color.
Colors and chemicals are as followed:
   1. Red; strontium salts, lithium salts
    lithium carbonate (for red), strontium carbonate
    (bright red)
   2. Orange; calcium salts,
    calcium chloride, calcium sulfate
   3. Gold; incandescence of iron (with carbon),
    charcoal, or lampblack
                 Color Contd.
•   Yellow; sodium compounds,
    sodium nitrate, cryolite
•   Electric white; white-hot metal, such as magnesium or
    aluminum, barium oxide
•   Green; barium compounds, chlorine producer, barium
•   Blue; copper compounds + chlorine producer, copper
    acetoarsenite, blue
    copper, turquoise blue.
•   Purple; mixture of strontium (red) and copper (blue)
•   Silver; burning aluminum, titanium, or magnesium
    powder or flakes
                  Shell Types
As with colors, shells are as followed:
•   Palm Contains large comets, or charges in the shape
    of a solid cylinder, that travel outward, explode and
    then curve downward like the limbs of a palm tree
•   Round shell Explodes in a spherical shape usually of
    colored stars
•   Ring shell Explodes to produce a symmetrical ring of
•   Willow Contains stars (high charcoal composition
    makes them long-burning) that fall in the shape of
    willow branches and may even stay visible until they
    hit the ground
                 Shells Contd.
•   Roundel Bursts into a circle of maroon shells that
    explode in sequence
•   Chrysanthemum Bursts into a spherical pattern of
    stars that leave a visible trail, with an effect somewhat
    suggestive of the flower
•   Pistil Like a chrysanthemum shell, but has a core that
    is a different color from the outer stars
•   Maroon shell Makes a loud bang
•   Serpentine Bursts to send small tubes of incendiaries
    skittering outward in random paths, which may
    culminate in exploding stars
             Firework laws
•   Currently 18 states allow almost all types
    of fireworks (green)
•   20 only allow “safe and sane” fireworks,
    (ones that don’t fly up and explode)
•   6 States only allow sparklers (yellow)
•   6 states don’t allow any fireworks (red)
            Firework Injuries
•   In 2006, eleven people died and an estimated
    9,200 were treated in emergency departments
    for fireworks-related injuries in the United
•   An estimated 5% of firework injuries required
•   Most common injuries were to the hands, eyes
    and head totaling 5,200 injuries.
•   More than half of those are burns.
•   Also cause many house fires.
          Injury controversy
•   The firecracker category is responsible
    for 1600 injuries a year.
•   In 2003 13% of all firecracker injuries
    were because of M80’s, silver salutes,
    quarter sticks, cherry bombs, etc.
•   These fireworks are not classified as
    illegal fireworks they are classified as
    illegal explosives.
                    Fun Facts
   When newlyweds Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
    celebrated their royal bonds with a fireworks display on
    May 10, 1774, they inadvertently set in motion a
    stampede which left 800 of their wedding attendees
   The use of fireworks more than doubled in the United
    States in the decade between 1992 and 2002. In 2003,
    American citizens blew up more than 220 million
    pounds of the decorative explosives.
   some fireworks used in religious ceremonies in
    Thailand and china were 8-10 feet long and were on
    bamboo sticks more than 40 feet long
1.   Bradley, Colin. “The History of Fireworks,” Pyro Universe.
     2007. January 28, 2009.
2.   Kuklin, Susan. Fireworks; the science, the art, and the
     Magic. South China Printing Company. 1996
3.   Cobb, Vicky. Fireworks: Where’s the Science Here?
     Millbrook Press. 2006
4.   “Fireworks-Related Injuries.” Centers for disease control
     and prevention. June 26, 2008. January 29, 2009.
5.   “How Fireworks Work.” How Stuff Works. 1998-2009.
     January 29, 2009.
6.   “Chemistry of Fireworks.” 2009. January 29,

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