The Chemistry of Firecrackers


Firecrackers are made up of flash Powder and a Fuse encased in paper. The Fuse is then lit causing a reaction in the Flash Powder that lets of a loud sound and a small spark. I chose to do the chemistry of Firecrackers because they have always been my favorite part of celebrating Fourth of July. They have always been able to add little excitement to someone's day.

Composition of ...

Flash Powder is inside the Firecracker and causes the chemical reaction

Aluminum and Perchlorate added together form Flash Powder:

3 KClO4 + 8 Al → 4 Al2 O3 + 3 KCl

Aluminum: Al

Potassium Perchlorate: KClO4

Paper encasing the Fuse and Flash Powder

Clay: CaCO3

Starch molecule : C 6H 10O 5

Fuse causing the reaction

Potassium nitrate: KNO3

Charcoal : C

Sulfur: S

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Perchlorate is a commercially produced salt that is derived from perchloric acid. Perchlorate is the anion resulting from the dissociation of perchloric acid and its salts upon their dissolution in water. Potassium perchlorate salts are soluble in water and dissociate into the perchlorate anion and the cation from the salt. Perchlorates are commonly used as propellants for rockets and extensively in pyrotechnics. Perchlorate is used in Firecrackers because it is the oxidizing component of Flash Powder.

Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. Aluminum is usually excavated from the Earth’s crust but many forms of Aluminum today come from recycling. Due to Aluminum being 100% recyclable and will never lose any of its chemical properties. Aluminum is a good thermal and electrical conductor. Aluminum is added to the perchlorate in Flash Powder to accelerate the combustion.

Chemistry's Role

Firecracker are a manmade product usually commercially produced. Firecrackers are composed of Flash powder and a fuse encased in tightly packed paper. Flash Powder is made up by mixing Aluminum and Perchlorate together. Perchlorate is created in a laboratory. While Aluminum is excavated from the Earth’s crust or produced by recycled Aluminum. When this Flash Powder is tightly packed it creates a loud pop sound from the release of energy.

Background Research

Firecrackers are one thing made up of three different parts. First the fuse is made by combining Potassium Nitrate, Charcoal and Sulfur. Then the Flash powder is made by combining Potassium Perchlorate and Aluminum. This is then packed tightly inside paper that is made by combining clay and a starch molecule. Then you light the fuse and with the added fire the Flash Powder and the the overwhelming pressure makes the Firecracker go BOOM!


What the basic components of a Firecracker are

Basic information on Firecrackers

What Flash powder is

Reaction that cause the combustion of Flash Powder

Mixtures used in Flash Powder

The energy released by the combustion of Firecrackers

Determine the difference between a Firecracker and a Firework

The chemicals used in creating a pyrotechnic fuse

Background information on Perchlorate

More in depth look at Perchlorate

Background information on Aluminum

More in depth look at Aluminum

About the Author

Tobin O’Brien is senior at Billings Senior High. Tobin was born in ,The Biggest Little City in the World, Reno, Nevada. Since he was a child he has been interested in the human body and how it works. Following his senior year at Senior High he will attend Dickinson State University. At Dickinson State he will study nursing and continue his interest in the human body while playing on their Football team. He has lettered in both Football and Track and has spent spent many hours volunteering for organizations around his community.