Fireworks are usually made out of the following items; an oxidizing agent, a reducing agent, a coloring agent, binders and regulators. These this mixed together are what make up the basic fireworks.
The first thing in a firework is the oxidizing agent. These
produce the Oxygen to burn the mixture. Oxidizers are usually
nitrates, chlorates or perchlorates. The common oxidizers are
nitrates. These are made up of a metal ion and the nitrate ion.
I'll use potassium nitrate as an example. Nitrates only give up
1/3 of their oxygen. The resulting equation would look something
The next Oxidizers are chlorates are also made up of a metal
ion and then the chlorate ion. Chlorates give up all of their
oxygen, causing a more spectacular reaction. Unfortunately this
also makes the chemicals EXTREMELY explosive. An example of a
chlorate giving up its oxygen would look something like this:
Perchlorates have more oxygen in them, but are less likely to explode if you drop them than are chlorates. Again these are made up of a metal ion and then the perchlorate polyatomic ion. An example of a typical perclorate giving up its oxygen would look something like this, (graphic).
The second elements of fireworks are the reducing agents. The reducing agents burn the oxygen produced by the oxidizers to produce hot gasses. Two examples of reducing agents are Sulfur and Charcoal(carbon). These react with the oxygen to form respectively Sulfur Dioxide and Carbon Dioxide.
Usually two reducing agents are combined. This results in speeding or slowing the reaction. Therefore, the reducing agents are used to control the speed of the reaction. Also, metals are often added to speed the reaction. The finer the powder the faster the reaction. This is because of one of the factors affecting reaction rates, concentration. If you set fire to wheat, it will burn slowly. If you set fire to wheat dust floating in the air, it will explode, this is shown when a grain elevator explodes. Also cornmeal is often used to slow down the reaction. These metals and the cornmeal are the regulators.
The fourth element of fireworks are the binders. Binders hold the mixture in a lump. This lump is a star. In order to form a star, two main elements are used. These two are dextrine dampened by water, or a shellac compound dampened by alcohol. These are rolled and then cut, or the mixture is forced into a paper tube, and pushed out with a dowel. Then the stars are cut as they come out.
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