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The Chemistry of the 4th of July – Fireworks

By: , Posted on: June 30, 2016

For as long as Americans can remember, the nation has celebrated the 4th July with impressive firework displays in public squares and smaller displays at home.  But why do Americans commemorate Independence Day by setting off thousands of small explosions and what is the chemistry behind the colors and sounds.

Before the Declaration was even signed John Adams, Founding Father and 2nd President, wrote to Abigail Adams saying that the festivities and celebrations should be marked “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” . The first commemorative Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777 in Philadelphia and Boston. The Philadelphia celebrations consisted of just 13 fireworks.

Our good friends at Compound Interest  created these informative infographics on the chemistry behind the colors, bangs, crackles and whistles of fireworks. So when you’re gazing skyward you can amaze, educate or bore your friends with your knowledge of what makes a firework go bang and why it’s the color it is!

Firework-Colours-2015

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Chemistry-of-Fireworks-–-Bangs-Crackles-Whistles

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These infographics are reproduced with the kind permission of www.compoundchem.com and the original post can be found here and here. The graphic is Copyright© Compound Interest and is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.

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