Science behind the July 4th fireworks

Pyrotechnics, fireworks, firecrackers or whatever you call them: You can only go on if the weather cooperates.

You might be surprised to know that fireworks can technically take place in the rain, at least after this lesson from Weather STEM. The most important thing is that the fuse cannot get wet or it will not fire properly. It is important to store the fireworks in a dry container before lighting.

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This can also be related to moisture: if you store fireworks in a room that is too humid, the fuse can get too damp and not ignite properly.

In addition, moisture plays a role in the liveliness of fireworks. The colors won’t look as bright for fireworks on damp nights. Dry air is ideal for the lightest colors.

If there’s a thunderstorm, people shouldn’t be outside anyway (remember, “When the thunder is raging, go inside”). Fireworks shouldn’t happen during a storm either. It is possible that lightning could strike the fireworks on the ground and ignite them before they are done.

Fireworks smoke is affected by wind. On a calm day, smoke can remain in the air for long periods of time. Smoke is easier to blow around on a very windy day. Smoke could potentially be blowing towards the crowds watching fireworks. We need a happy mean for the wind speed.

Meteorology isn’t the only science that affects fireworks. There is a lot of chemistry that goes into creating fireworks.

When fired, small balls or stars are thrown high into the sky. These pellets contain a certain combination of metal salts. When these metals burn, they are very bright. Chemists can also use certain chemicals to make the fireworks display to get a certain color.

The silver-white fireworks are made of magnesium and aluminum. Blue fireworks contain copper. Green contains barium. Yellow has sodium. Orange has calcium. Red has strontium. Purple can be made with a combination of copper and strontium.

Whatever your favorite color of fireworks, you can see plenty of them across Michiana this weekend. This article provides a list of fireworks in Michigan and Indiana related to Independence Day.

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