FOURTH OF JULY: The Inner Workings of A Firework


July 2, 2023 / Comments (2)

Survival Skills

Every Fourth of July, millions of people around the United States gather around to watch these magical light displays in the sky.

Have you ever wondered how those explosions in the sky work? They seem to come in every color and shape, and only continue to get better every year!

We thought the science behind how these little guys work was super cool, and we think you will too.

Inside a Firework Shell

Firework patterns

The most fascinating part of a firework, for me, is the arrangement in the sky. To create specific figures in the sky, firework engineers meticulously place pellets along the black powder on the inside of the shells. Here are a few common patterns of shells:

    • Palm: Contains large comets, or charges in the shape of a solid cylinder, that travel outward, explode and then curve downward like the limbs of a palm tree
    • Round shell: Explodes in a spherical shape, usually of colored stars
    • Ring shell: Explodes to produce a symmetrical ring of stars
    • Willow: Contains stars (high charcoal composition makes them long-burning) that fall in the shape of willow branches and may even stay visible until they hit the ground
    • Roundel: Bursts into a circle of maroon shells that explode in sequence
    • Chrysanthemum: Bursts into a spherical pattern of stars that leave a visible trail, with an effect somewhat suggestive of the flower
    • Pistil: Like a chrysanthemum shell, but has a core that is a different color from the outer stars
    • Maroon shell: Makes a loud bang
    • Serpentine: Bursts to send small tubes of incendiaries skittering outward in random paths, which may culminate in exploding stars

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via How Stuff Works

How Stuff Works – Fireworks

via How Stuff Works

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 2, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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FOURTH OF JULY: The Inner Workings of A Firework

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