Sparklers are one of America’s most beloved party accessory, and that rings true whether you’re celebrating Independence Day, a birthday, or even a wedding. Part of the reason for this is that sparklers are legal almost everywhere in the country since they’re classified as a novelty item rather than an actual firework, but another reason is that humans in general are fascinated by fire. The sparkler craze started with the traditional gold sparklers that we all know and love, but another segment of the market is growing like wildfire and that’s color sparklers.
Making gold sparklers isn’t really that challenging since any time that the pyrotechnic powder used in their construction makes contact with air it automatically burns in that color. The real magic in manufacturing sparklers comes when they want to add color to the sparks, and that is a very complicated process indeed. Most people assume that it is similar to adding food coloring to their cupcakes or whatnot, but it’s actually much more involved and laborious than that. Here is a snapshot of how they add color to sparklers to create a more enchanting and festive experience to one of the most beloved items in history.
Creating a Color
The most important thing to understand about how they add color to sparklers is that they need to add additional elements to the pyrotechnic compound depending on which color they want to create. These elements are much different than standard dyes or pigments, and here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular colors.
To create a red colored sparkler, the manufacturer needs to add salts. For bright reds, they use strontium salts, and for a regular red they use lithium salts.
To create an orange colored sparkler, the manufacturer needs to add calcium salts such as calcium chloride or calcium sulfate.
To create a yellow colored sparkler, the manufacturer needs to add either cryolite or sodium nitrate depending on the desired hue of yellow.
To create a white colored sparkler, the manufacturer needs to add a white-hot burning metal such as magnesium (found in light bulbs) or aluminum barium oxide.
Creating a green sparkler is a bit more complex than most other colors because the manufacturer needs to combine a barium compound and a chlorine producer such as barium chloride.
Creating a blue sparkler is a bit more complex than most other colors because the manufacturer needs to combine a copper compound and a chlorine producer such as copper acetoarsenite.
Purple is the most expensive color to create from a sparkler because it is a combination of the elements required to create both red and blue; a mixture of strontium salts and copper compounds.
Silver sparklers are not available in the United States because the elements used in their construction are highly explosive. This is traditionally this is aluminum powder or titanium powder, but often times they substitute magnesium instead and pawn off white sparklers as silver.
As you can see from the list above, creating color sparklers is equal part art and science. With an ever-growing market looking for new and interesting color options, manufacturers are constantly tweaking and improving their formulas. Next time you find yourself using sparklers with friends or family, you can reference this list to explain how they add color to sparklers to make yourself sound really smart.
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