Fireworks, with their breathtaking displays of vibrant colors illuminating the night sky, are a beloved spectacle enjoyed by people worldwide. In this article, we unveil the science behind the colorful magic of fireworks, exploring into flame emission spectroscopy and its role in creating these amazing visual symphonies.
The use of metal compounds to generate colors dates back centuries, but modern technology and a deep understanding of spectroscopy have elevated firework displays to new heights. Flame emission spectroscopy is the scientific backbone behind the captivating firework displays . This analytical technique involves the same principles used in laboratories to identify elements based on their emitted light spectra. In fireworks, the combustion of metal compounds releases energy that causes electrons to jump to higher energy levels. As these electrons fall back to their original energy levels, they emit light at specific wavelengths, creating the characteristic colors we admire during fireworks displays. For example, strontium salts emit a brilliant red glow, while copper compounds produce stunning blues and greens. Calcium is responsible for vibrant oranges, sodium for intense yellows, potassium for bright purple and barium for dazzling greens .
The precision of flame emission spectroscopy enables pyrotechnicians to adjust the composition of the fireworks in order to create the hues they desire and orchestrate the timing of their appearance . Obtained results permit to create a harmonious choreography of stunning displays that dance across the night sky as it is represented in the image below (see Figure 1).
So, the next time you admire fireworks displays think that they are not just a visual treat but also a testament to the sophisticated dance between chemistry, physics, and artistic expression.
 Schrenk, W.G. (1975). Flame Emission Spectroscopy. In: Analytical Atomic Spectroscopy. Modern Analytical Chemistry. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-0811-9_9
 Michael S. Russell (2000). The Chemistry of Fireworks. Royal Society of Chemistry.
 Chris Mocella, John A. Conkling (2018). Chemistry of Pyrotechnics: Basic Principles and Theory. 3rd Edition CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/9780429262135