Fireworks display

Anatomy of a Firework – amazing interactive image with labels and descriptions

Fireworks put on a dazzling, colorful chemical show. – a firework contains a mixture of chemicals that burn well. These mixtures are produced in the form of gumball-sized pellets, which are held inside a cylindrical shell, or cartridge. Gunpowder at the bottom of the cartridge launches and ignites the firework. A special fuse delays the explosion until the cartridge is airborne.

The Physics Of Fireworks – start with three simple ingredients: sulfur, charcoal, and a source of potassium nitrate. Charcoal is the carbon residue left behind by organic matter (like wood) once it has been charred (or pyrolyzed), having had all the water removed. Potassium nitrate is found in sources like bird droppings or bat guano. Take a mortar and pestle, mix them together, and what you’ll get is a fine, black powder.

What’s the problem?
Anatomy of a Firework – amazing interactive image with labels and descriptions

  • Ask – Fireworks displays are amazing. The sky is filled with an endless series of explosions and bursts of light. How do they do that?
  • Imagine
  • Design, Build – Time-Delay Fuse – As the firework shoots through the air, the time-delay fuse continues to burn. When the shell is close to its apex, the fuse has burned low enough to ignite the black powder in the first break (or compartment). Colored stars ignite in every direction. The fuse keeps burning, making its way toward the stashes of black powder in the second and third breaks.
  • Improve

Learn more…

  • Flash! Bang! Whiz! – An introduction to propellants, explosives, pyrotechnics and fireworks