As soon as the bells of the festive season ring and Diwali is just around the corner, I always wait for my box of firecrackers. I generally like the anar (flowerpot), chakri and fuljhadi because of their mesmerising colours. I was always fascinated by these colours. This year when my Chemistry teacher, Sheetal Ma’am, introduced my class to the Periodic Table, we read about Sodium, Barium, Phosphorus, Magnesium etc. I understood the reason behind the colours in the firecrackers. If you also want to know the Chemistry behind these lovely firecrackers, read on!

Fireworks get their colour from metal salts ( A salt is a chemical compound formed when an acid and base neutralise each other, resulting in a new compound where the elements are bound together through ionic bonds. Many of the salts include an oxidizer like nitrates, chlorates, or perchlorates. Along with imparting colour, these oxidisers provide oxygen, allowing the fireworks to burn. The metals or salts can also be stabilisers, keeping the colour-imparting elements stable until show time. While not explicitly a colour-inducing element, phosphorous is also commonly included in fireworks as a fuel since it spontaneously burns in air. It is used as a glowing component in darker fireworks for effects. Zinc can be added to create smoke effects.

Metal salts commonly used in firework displays include: strontium carbonate (red fireworks), calcium chloride (orange fireworks), sodium nitrate (yellow fireworks), barium chloride (green fireworks) and copper chloride (blue fireworks), a mixture of strontium (red) and copper (blue) compounds (purple fireworks), orange colour - calcium salts; gold- incandescence of iron (with carbon), charcoal, or lampblack; white colour - white-hot metal such as magnesium or aluminium barium oxide; and silver- burning aluminium, titanium, or magnesium powder or flakes. (;

Seeming a little difficult, is it? Dear friends, there is pure chemistry behind the colours of firecrackers. Though the names of the chemicals may seem a bit complex but I am sure every one of you would have been curious about how the firecrackers get their colours.

I am looking forward to my box of firecrackers this Diwali not only to enjoy but also to see the magic of Chemistry unveil in front of my eyes. And yes, dear friends to see the magic of Chemistry I will burn only a few firecrackers and see that I do not add to the pollution levels. I will take care that my experiment does not harm our environment. I will also take precautions while lighting firecrackers such as my parents are with me, I am wearing proper clothes and that my firecrackers do not hurt anyone.

Dear Friends, wishing you all a very Happy and Safe Diwali!!

Shreenabh Agrawal

Class IX-A

The Chanda Devi Saraf School


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