ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It's fun to watch fireworks, but have you ever thought about how the different colors you see are actually made?
It's all chemistry. Pyrotechnics use chemicals to make those bright lights.
Let's start with your basic firework.
The source of most fireworks is a small tube called an aerial shell that is shot into the air before it explodes at a safe height.
This shell contains chemicals that create all of the lights, colors and sounds of a firework.
Inside there are small globs of explosive materials called stars. It's these stars that give fireworks their color when they explode.
Typically, light from fireworks is produced by Luminescence. The explosion of gunpowder in the aerial shell creates a lot of heat, which causes metal salts in the stars to absorb heat energy and emit light.
As the electrons inside the atoms of these metals become excited by the heat, the electrons then almost immediately go to a lower energy state.
That's when they emit light and a specific color. That color is based on the metal used like strontium, barium, sodium, copper or other mixtures.
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