Fireworks Chemistry – Start With a Bang, Add Some Color

Chemistry, Entertainment
Pyrotechnics, often called fireworks, has a long history dating back to the days of gunpowder (black powder), developed in 9th-century China. Whether it is a sizzle, an explosion, or a showy display of colorful lights and sounds, the chemical reactions involve oxidation/reduction (REDOX) chemistry. What Is Oxidation? Oxidation is essentially the removal of electrons. Consider a very simple example. An uncharged sodium atom (symbol: Na) has 11 negatively-charged electrons. The atom has no net charge, however, because in its center part or nucleus, there are 11 positively-charged protons. Sodium can lose one electron to form a positively-charged ion called a cation. Now we can look at this process as if it were a mathematical equation. If we have the number 4 and we wind up with the numbers 3 and…
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