Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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July 4, 2013

What gives fireworks their colors?

What makes one firework glow red and another blue? Different combinations of chemicals are incorporated to give Fourth of July fireworks their brilliant colors

Fireworks

What exactly gives fireworks their colors? According to Nathaniel Finney, senior lecturer in North Carolina State’s Department of Chemistry, fireworks get their brilliant colors from different metal salts heated to high temperatures.

Red

Lithium and strontium salts emit red light.

Yellow

Sodium salts are used to create yellow light.

Orange

Calcium salts are used for orange light.

Blue

Copper salts, despite the name, emit blue, not copper, light.

Green

Barium salts glow with a green light.

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