Which Elements Create Colour & Effects In Fireworks?

With countless varieties of fireworks available - and a constant demand to create new effects - the demand on those manufacturing the products you enjoy is significant.

From cakes to rockets, the process varies wildly, with the creation of colour naturally integral. But how are all those magnificent colours you see made possible? We take a look at the different elements used in the fireworks' manufacturing process to explain.

Blue

Copper (CU 29) is used to create blue shades in fireworks. It can sometimes also be used to create greens. Zinc (Zn 30) can create blue-to-white colours.

29
Cu
Copper
63.546
30
Zn
Zinc
65.38

Green

Barium (Ba 56) is a key component for steadying other hazardous chemicals. It is used to create green firework effects. Calcium (Ca 20) is also sometimes used to create green effects.

56
Ba
Barium
137.328
20
Ca
Calcium
40.078

Gold

Incandesce of Iron (Fe 26), when combined with carbon, is used to make golden effects.

26
Fe
Iron
55.845

Indigo

To achieve an indigo tone, Cesium (Cs 55) is important; whilst this element can also help to oxidise a firework mixture.

55
Cs
Cesium
132.905

Orange

Calcium (Ca 20) salts are used to create intense orange colours in fireworks.

20
Ca
Calcium
40.078

Purple

A combination of Strontium (Sr 38) and Copper (Cu 29) is commonly used to produce purple firework effects. Whilst a little more complex to manufacture, it is essentially the old colour principle where blue + red = purple.

38
Sr
Strontium
87.62
29
Cu
Copper
63.546

Red

Strontium (Sr 38) and Lithium (Li) salts are used to create a range of red colours in fireworks.

38
Sr
Strontium
87.62

Silver

The silver sparkles commonly seen within fireworks are often created through the use of Titanium (Ti 22).

22
Ti
Titanium
47.867

Violet

Rubidium (Rb 37) is used for the creation of a violet-to-red colour, whilst Potassium (K 19) is useful for oxidising firework mixtures. This can help to create a purple-pink colour.

37
Rb
Rubidium
84.466
19
K
Potassium
39.098

White

When Magnesium (Mg 12) is burnt, it creates a brilliant white colour, which can add an additional layer of spectacle to any pyro explosion. Aluminium (Al 13) is also used to create white flames and sparkle effects.

12
Mg
Magnesium
24.305
13
Al
Aluminium
26.982

Yellow

Firework manufacturers looking to produce yellow colours turn to Sodium (Na 11).

11
Na
Sodium
22.990
What About Pure Effects?

Just as important as the colours created by fireworks are the effects that partner them. Yet more elements are required to deliver these effects. Some of the common examples include:

51
Sb
Antimony
121.760

Antimony (Sb 51) is used to create glitter effects.

6
C
Carbon
12.011

Carbon (C 9) provides the fuel required to ignite a firework. Highly combustible, it's a key part of the make-up of black powder.

17
Cl
Chlorine
35.453

Chlorine (Cl 17) is a key part of the oxidisers used during the fireworks' manufacturing process.

26
Fe
Iron
55.845

Iron (Fe 26) is regularly used to produce sparks, with the heat of the metal deciding the shade of the spark colour.

15
P
Phosphorus
30.974

Phosporus (P 15) helps to create glare in darker firework explosions. It may also be used to provide a 'glow-in-the-dark' effect.

16
S
Sulfur
32.066

Sulfur (S 16) is a common component of black powder, found in the fuel of a firework.

30
Zn
Zinc
65.38

Zinc (Zn 30) is used to create smoke effects.

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