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Summer Science Series: The Chemistry of Fireworks

Have you ever wondered what produces the beautiful colors that light up the sky during a fireworks display? It's all about chemistry. Yup. That’s right. Fireworks are chemistry in action!
Fireworks contain metal salts and other chemicals that produce oxygen when they are lit. Oxygen reacts with the metal making it burn with different colored flames depending on the type of metal used.

Burning table salt (sodium chloride) produces a yellow flame because of the sodium. Here are examples of other metals and the colors they produce when burned:

  • strontium– red
  • copper – blue
  • potassium – pink/purple
  • calcium – orange
  • barium – green
  • titanium, aluminum – silver/white 

Check out this video from the Franklin Institute to see some of these spectacular colors up close.

Now if you watch fireworks this weekend, you can celebrate the 4th of July and chemistry at the same time!

Have a safe and fun weekend,

The Yellow Scope Team


Yellow Scope
Yellow Scope


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