Essay on Fireworks

723 Words 3 Pages

How do fireworks produce their brilliant colors and loud bangs? To produce the noise and flashes, an oxidizer (an oxidizing agent) and a fuel (reducing agent) are used. The oxidizer oxidizes the fuel in a very exothermic reaction which produces a brilliant flash and a loud report from the rapidly expanding gases produced. For a color effect, an element with a colored emission spectrum is included. Electrons in atoms can be raised to higher-energy orbitals when the atoms absorb energy. The excited atoms can then release this excess energy by emitting light of specific wavelengths, often in the visible region. In fireworks, the energy to excite the electrons comes from the reaction between the oxidizer and fuel.
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An example of a chlorate giving up its oxygen would look something like this:

XClO4 ---> XCl + 2O2

Perchlorates have more oxygen in them, but are less likely to explode if you drop them than are chlorates. Again these are made up of a metal ion and then the perchlorate polyatomic ion.

Reducing Agents

The second elements of fireworks are the reducing agents. The reducing agents burn the oxygen produced by the oxidizers to produce hot gasses. Two examples of reducing agents are Sulfur and Charcoal (carbon). These react with the oxygen to form respectively Sulfur Dioxide and Carbon Dioxide.

S + O2 ---> SO2 C + O2 ---> CO2

Usually two reducing agents are combined. This results in speeding or slowing the reaction. Therefore, the reducing agents are used to control the speed of the reaction. Also, metals are often added to speed the reaction. The finer the powder the faster the reaction. This is because of one of the factors affecting reaction rates, concentration. If you set fire to wheat, it will burn slowly. If you set fire to wheat dust floating in the air, it will explode, this is shown when a grain elevator explodes.

Also cornmeal is often used to slow down the reaction. These metals and the cornmeal are the regulators.


The fourth element of fireworks are the binders. Binders hold the mixture in a lump. This lump is a star.

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