Fireworks In All Colors

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~Elmer Davis ~Paul Sweeney

Making Fireworks Colorful

Colors in fireworks are usually generated by pyrotechnic stars–usually just called stars–which produce intense light when ignited. Stars contain five basic types of ingredients.

Some of the more common color-producing compounds are tabulated here. The color of a compound in a firework will be the same as its color in a flame test (shown at right). Not all compounds that produce a colored flame are appropriate for coloring fireworks, however. Ideal colorants will produce a pure, intense color when present in moderate concentration.

Color Metal Example compounds
Red Strontium (intense red)

Lithium (medium red)

SrCO3 ( strontium carbonate )

Li2CO3 ( lithium carbonate )

Orange Calcium CaCl2 ( calcium chloride )
Yellow Sodium NaNO3 ( sodium nitrate )
Green Barium BaCl+ ( barium chloride ions)
Blue Copper halides CuCl2 ( copper chloride ), at low temperature
Purple Potassium or Strontium + Copper KNO3 ( Potassium Nitrate ) or SrCl+ + CuCl+ ( Strontium Chloride + Copper Chloride )
Gold Charcoal , iron, or lampblack
White Titanium , aluminium , or magnesium powders