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Firecrackers and Fireworks - History, Information & Facts

Updated on July 12, 2011
Firecracker
Firecracker
Chinese New Year Firecrackers
Chinese New Year Firecrackers

Interesting Facts about Fireworks & Firecrackers

  • A firecracker (along with fireworks) was discovered more than 1,000 years ago in China (during the Han dynasty). Every year people in China celebrate inventing the firecracker on the 18th of April.
  • Firecracker is also known as a banger, bunger, cracker or noise maker. The art of creating, making and setting off fireworks is called as “pyrotechnics”. Firework professionals are known as “pyrotechnicians” or “pyrotechnists”.
  • It is believed that the first “firecrackers” were chunks of bamboo, which someone may have thrown onto a fire. Bamboo grows so fast that pockets of sap and air get trapped inside the segments of the bamboo. When heated, the air inside the hollow reeds expands and bursts through the side with a long bam!
  • Firecrackers were used in China to scare away evil spirits – the strange and loud sound, which had never been heard before, frightened animals and people terribly. Since it scared living creatures so much so the Chinese also thought that it would probably scare away spirits, especially Nian, an evil spirit who they believed to eat people and crops. Because of this, it had became traditional to throw bamboo onto a fire during the Chinese New Year. Firecrackers have also been used for celebrations as well as military tactical maneuvers.
  • The key ingredient in making firecrackers is gunpowder. Its explosive substance consists of saltpeter (potassium nitrate), charcoal and sulphur. By adding more saltpeter (which is rich in oxygen) to the mixture, firecrackers became more explosive. When this gunpowder is ignited in a closed container, it will explode with a loud noise and send pieces of the container flying. When you place it in an open-ended container, it will emit flames, sparks and smoke. Some firecrackers are assembled into a pallet in a way that if one burns, it will light another, setting off a succession of bangs.
  • Around the 13th century, firecrackers arrived in Europe, but its not clear whether Marco Polo or the Crusaders who introduced it to them. The first Europeans who turned firecrackers into art were the Italians and some of the top firecrackers manufacturers from US are still of Italian descent.
  • Firecrackers are still made by hand. Since the static electricity in synthetic clothing may create sparks capable of detonating fireworks, people who make shells must stick to wearingg cotton – all the way down to their underwear.

Niagara Falls - Fireworks
Niagara Falls - Fireworks
Fireworks Show
Fireworks Show
Fireworks - Waterfall
Fireworks - Waterfall
Fireworks - Waterfall 2
Fireworks - Waterfall 2
  • The most disastrous firecrackers-related tragedy happened on 16 May 1770, during the wedding celebration of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. A stampede occurred after the firecrackers show as people tried to leave what todayy is the Place de la Concorde. Abuot 800 people were killed.
  • At first, white and orange were the only colors that people can create in fireworks. It was only in the 1800s that people discovered how to make colored firecrackers. Chemists identified certain compounds that when used burned to give purples, greens, reds and blues. Today, with advancements in chemistry, almost every colors of light can be created.
  • In the olden days, it used to be very difficult to create the color blue. But with the discovery of Magnalium (magnesium-aluminium alloy), this is no longer a problem. Today, we can see rich and bright blue fireworks lighting up the sky. Metal chIorides are responsible for the colors that you see in the sky. Barium for green, strontium for red, sodium for yellow and copper for blue.
  • Fireworks are still being a key part of celebrating Independence Day in United States, Bastille Day in France, Guy Fawkes’ Day in United Kingdom and New Year festivities around the world. China is still the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world. The world’s largest single firework was seen at a festival in Japan in 1988. The burst was over a kilometer across and the shell weighed over half a tonne.
  • In public shows today, specialists use computers to control the electronic ignition of fireworks as well as to synchronize the aerial bursts with music.
  • During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, many people at home were watching a series of giant footprints outlined in fireworks processed gloriuosly above the city from Tiananmen Square. In fact, what they were watching was actually computer graphics that had been created over a period of months. Actually the fireworks were there for real, outside the stadium. But for people who responsible for filming the extravaganza decided in advance it would be very difficult or impossible to capture all 29 footprints from the air.
  • According to study by the Japanese, colored smoke from fireworks is damaging to DNA or genotoxic to the epithelial cells that line the lungs. It was also reported that all colored smokes from fireworks displayed acute toxicity. The order of toxicity was orange>violet>red>yellow. Therefore don't breathe the smoke from fireworks especially the orange ones.
  • Half of all firework accidents happen to chiIdren under the age of 16. The parts of the body most often injured were the head, face, hands and the eyes. Most of the injuries happen at family or private parties.
  • Because of fireworks, July may be the most dangerous month. During the 14-year study period (from 1990 – 2003), an estimated 85,000 pediatric fireworks-related injuries were treated in US emergency departments. Injured children had a mean age of around 10 years and about 78% of them were male. A 2007 US Consumer Product Safety Commission report stated that firewoks-related injuries sent 9,800 people to the emergency room.
  • Black powder is classified as a “low explosive”, it means that its detonation velocity is less than 100 yards per second, whereas “high explosive” such as dynamite have a velocity of detonaton greater than 1,000 yards per second.
  • People will always see the explosion of a firework before hearing it. This is because light travels at 671 million mph whereas sound travels only at 761 mph.

Comments

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    • profile image

      yash khapke 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for sending us this unknown facts and information about crakers.

    • LULU SUE1987 profile image

      LULU SUE1987 

      7 years ago

      Love fireworks

    • Susan Wong profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Wong 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Peter.

      According to the historical record, by 1100 the Chinese were usin huge firecracker-like paper bombs in battle. There were also reports of catapults being used to launch explosives in 1221.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 

      7 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Facinating report and great photos. When was the first time that fireworks were used on battle? Thanks for the show.

      Peter

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