Skip to content
Home » The future of fireworks

The future of fireworks

Fireworks are one of the most popular signs of celebrations in the modern world. It doesn’t matter if it’s a birthday, anniversary or public celebration, fireworks always seem to fail to make an appearance. We witness them and admire every day but are we aware of them? They do not only explode, but also make pretty colours and patterns across the skies. There is so much to know about these amazing works of art, so let’s take a look into the history and the science behind fireworks.

What exactly are fireworks and what is the history behind them?

Fireworks are aesthetic pyrotechnic which is classified as low explosive (despite the way we may perceive them). Known for their bright colours as well as their loud and often loud sound that they are now a popular part of society . Firework shows are commonplace in certain areas across the globe.

In the beginning, they were a part of China throughout the Song Dynasty, they were used in the same way that they are today for commemorating important occasions. They typically took the form of explosive bamboo stems that were thrown in the air.

At that time fireworks were restricted in their form and colours due to the availability of materials and the general knowledge of fireworks. The 14th century saw chemicals were applied to these earlier fireworks to enable them to create colours for them, which was very useful to signal smoke for military use. This was also around the time when fireworks started to find their way into Europe using recipes gathered by some Europeans from China in the early days.

It was not up to the year 17thcentury when fireworks started to become used and the challenges of purchasing chemicals and materials meant it wouldn’t be until the 20th century, when fireworks became easy to purchase in all kinds of varieties.

Types of fireworks

Some of the most popular fireworks include:

Catherine Wheels

The name is derived from Saint Catherine of Alexandria, who was sentenced to death by an executioner’s wheel, after touching it the wheel broke up into pieces. Due to the way that fireworks erupt into a wheel of sparks that rotate and ignite after being ignited, this name seems incredibly appropriate.

Smoke Bombs

Smoke Bombs are fireworks made to emit a smoke cloud once ignited.

Barrages and Firework Cakes

These are fireworks that have multiple tubes and contain several Roman Candles or aerial shells that are linked by an extremely fast fuse. These create long-lasting explosive effects which are stunning.


Perhaps one of the most widely recognized fireworks, these are ground-based fireworks that create sparks and starlights which are followed by whistling and crackling sounds.

Roman Candles

Traditional firework that appears like a long tube . It fires stars and other explosive shells to create colorful balls of light.


More popular in today’s generation they are usually designed in the form of rockets. They fire up into the sky at incredible speeds, usually creating a strong whooshing sound, leading to a large explosion.

How do fireworks work? The science behind fireworks

To give a firework its intended effect, it needs some chemical reactions that usually happen sequentially over a short period of time. By adding energy to the mix, it turns into the catalyst to trigger a chemical reaction which solid compounds within the firework burn with the atmospheric oxygen. This converts into several other chemicals, which then creates gases such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

You might be interested in knowing what creates the colours that are present in fireworks. Well, once again the magic of science could explain what we need to know. The colours in fireworks come from different metal compounds that are contained within the fireworks. When they burn, they emit different colours depending on the substance.

Some of the early Chinese recipes to achieve different colours include Calcium compounds that produce the red color, Lead carbonate for a lilac colour and Copper Acetate for green, Mercurous Chrloride for white, and Arsenical Sulphide to create yellow hues.

Since then, we’ve discovered new methods to get these colours , including: Strontium salts for red and Calcium salts for orange, Sodium salts for Yellow, Salts of Barium for green, Copper salts for blue, for copper, Strontium compounds for purple, white hot Magnesium and aluminium for silver. We also have burning metals such Magnesium for white.

The reason they can fly into the air at high speeds is due to the hot gas that is released after the firework has been ignited. Rapid release the gas results in a large amount of pressure which pushes the firework into the opposite direction from the hot gas being released.

Future of firework displays

Due to the increasing popularity in fireworks and their usage in the modern world has seen the development of new methods for light shows to be developed as a means of competing.

As seen in Shanghai’s 2021 New Year celebrations, it is evident that we are entering a new era where drone technology is becoming an opponent to fireworks when celebrating festivities.

However, drones can’t achieve the genuine beauty of fireworks. Although they’re lovely however, it is their combustion and diversity of colours that makes the science behind fireworks unique. This is why it is certain that fireworks will continue to be an integral part of the culture around the world.