Fireworks and firecrackers are always associated with positive occasions in life. It is associated with joy, victory, happiness and celebrations. Witnessing the colorful and iridescent burst of fireworks is a joy in itself. It creates a lively atmosphere. It sets the sparks of happiness and fun flying in our hearts and minds.
It is widely accepted that the use of fireworks originated in China. It is believed that the Chinese had introduced its manufacturing almost 2,000 years ago, hence, there’s no particular person given credit for its invention. Fireworks, it is said, was invented accidentally by an unnamed Chinese Cook who somehow managed to create a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and saltpeter. When he stuffed the mixture in a bamboo tube, an explosion occurred, and that was how fireworks or firecrackers were invented.
Another source gives credit to the Indians for inventing fireworks. Also because, Indians are the most enthusiastic in bursting firecrackers in most occasions, be it a wedding, a religious festival or if the national team wins a cricket match. Overlook the enthusiasm of the Indians for fireworks and the Chinese takes away all the glory. The Chinese people are so dedicated to this art that they celebrate its invention every year on April 18 and offer sacrifices to Li Tian, a monk who is credited for its invention.
Fireworks in both Indian and Chinese civilization are regarded effective in warding off evil spirits, darkness and despair. Both cultures use fireworks extensively in birthdays, marriages and festivals. China is also the world’s largest manufacturer of fireworks and the Liu Yang region is famous for its production. The British are not that far behind in the use of fireworks as well. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, she had created a position for Fire Master and King James II, fascinated with the display of fireworks had knighted the fire master. Not even the Americans were untouched by the glamour of fireworks and imported it in large quantities from China for national consumption.
There is an amazing assortment of fireworks available in the market today. The popular ones are Aerials, Firecrackers, Fountains, Cones, Helicopters, Planes and Parachutes, Rockets and Missiles, Sparklers, Wheel, Spinners and Jacks; however, the list is endless depending upon the imagination of the designer. With the advent of the computer age fireworks display has gone hi-tech where launch and bursts are synchronized with music for the entertainment of the public. This is usually witnessed in opening and closing ceremonies of international games, New Year events and other important occasions.
There are many chemicals used in the manufacturing of fireworks like Aluminum, Barium, Carbon, Calcium, Chlorine, Copper, Iron, Potassium, Lithium, Magnesium, Sodium, Oxidizers, Phosphorus, Zinc among others. Aluminum is chiefly used in sparklers for silvery white sparkles and flames while Barium is used to create a green color. Carbon works as a propellant and copper emits a blue color to the fireworks. Each chemical plays an important part in the reaction and the desired effect and movement is produced according to the proportion of the chemicals and the shape and design of the firework.
However, there are safety hazards in the use of fireworks, too, and it should be carried out in a controlled environment with proper precautions. History is a sad reminder of the dangers that fireworks can create. A public fireworks display on the occasion of King Louis XVI marriage to Antoinette created a stampede resulting in the tragic deaths of 800 people in May 16, 1770. There are a few precautions that one should take while enjoying fireworks.
• Children’s should never be allowed to handle fireworks.
• One should keep a safe distance from the fireworks.
• Don’t gaze over the firework while lighting it. It may cause permanent damage to your eyes.
• Avoid high-decibel generating firecrackers; it may damage your ears.
• Light fireworks in an open area
Today the manufacturing and design of fireworks have developed into a form of art and science. It is known as pyrotechnics and is the study of the chemical and physical reactions that occurs when a firework is ignited. Still in its nascent stage, the science is gradually gaining popularity and associations like the Pyrotechnics Guild International Inc. enroll amateurs and professionals fireworks enthusiasts to learn new pyro techniques and develop their own mixtures.
Fireworks manufacturing goes through a stringent process of safety regulation before it is finally brought to the market. And manufacturers have to pass safety standards and legal procedures that depend upon government regulation in different countries. Compared to other countries, for example India and China, the United States has far stricter rules, regulations and standards for the manufacture of fireworks. However, there’s bad news for fireworks enthusiasts in the US, because the state and federal authorities are trying to ban consumer fireworks and rocketry indefinitely in the country. This would result in a serious setback to firework companies and followers of the art of Pyrotechnics all over the world.