Celebrations are incomplete without a firework display. It is beyond amazing how a bunch of combustible chemicals can produce a sight to behold. However, there are also many illuminating facts about fireworks that can capture your attention without fail.
For instance, did you know that back in the day ‘Chinese used firecrackers to scare off mountain men.’
As early as 200 B.C., the Chinese were writing on green bamboo stalks and heating it on coals to dry. Sometimes if left too long over the heat, the wood expanded and even burst, with a bang of course. According to Scientific American, Chinese scholars noticed that the noises effectively scared off abnormally large mountain men. And, thus, the firecracker was born. By some accounts, fireworks were also thought to scare away evil spirits.
Pyrotechnics are a wonderful creation, but they cause a lot of environmental harm. Thankfully hope exists as ‘chemists are developing more environmentally friendly firework recipes.’
Some groups have already found substitutes for barium compounds and potassium perchlorate. By replacing chlorine with iodine, a team at the U.S. Army’s Pyrotechnics Technology and Prototyping Division found that sodium and potassium periodate are both safe and effective oxidizers. The same group also found success replacing barium with boron. The work is aimed at making more environmentally friendly flares for military use, but could also be applied to civilian fireworks. Some fireworks that use nitrogen-rich compounds in place of perchlorates have been used in small displays, but the challenge is making eco-friendly products as cheap as alternatives.
There are many other lustrous facts you can read at the Smithsonian Magazine.
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