Fireworks Explained: A Quick Breakdown of How They Work

Fireworks have the unique ability to add festivity to any occasion. These displays light up the sky with brilliant flashes of vibrant colours, and some of them are followed by a thunderous boom that gets your heart pumping.

But did you ever stop to think about how fireworks work? They might seem magical, but there is a more scientific explanation behind their explosive beauty.

In this article, we will break down the process of igniting a firework, watching it shoot up to the sky, and seeing it go BOOM.

 1. The launch

Fireworks are generally launched out of metal pipes, which are usually referred to as mortars. Inside these mortars, wires run down the tube and attach to an explosive charge. With a small jolt of electricity, this explosive charge ignites, launching the firework as well as lighting its fuse. The fuse is essentially the timer, and once it runs out, the firework explodes in colourful brilliance.

 2. The burst

Once that fuse burns into the shell and ignites the explosive charge inside the firework, the entire tube explodes and sends out “stars” in every direction. These stars are what give the fireworks their stunning appearance. They ignite the moment the charge inside explodes, colouring the sky with incredible light.

In some large fireworks, a shell can be placed within another shell, meaning that there can be two or more different bursts coming from a single firework.

 3. The appearance

The appearance of the burst will depend totally on how the firework is built. For example, when working with colour, the stars will contain different salts of varying metals. It involves a chemical process where metal atoms absorb the energy of the blast and emit a specific wavelength. Stars that change colour as they travel will contain one type of metal salt on the exterior and another in the inner portion.

The brightness and length of the burn will depend on the size of the star. Larger stars will burn much brighter and travel a longer distance, while smaller ones will burn out quickly, sometimes disappearing almost instantaneously.

 4. The shape

The shape of the burst is dependent on how the stars are arranged inside the firework. Different shapes can be reproduced with careful placement, from simple rings to more elaborate willows and chrysanthemums.

Since it is possible to configure a firework in size, shape, density, manufacturers can essentially produce an infinite number of burst shapes.


Thanks to people with fantastic knowledge of chemistry and physics and a touch of artistry, we can all enjoy the fireworks displays we know and love today. It is amazing to think that with careful use of placement, size, shape, and composition, firework manufacturers can control the shape, direction, colour, and brightness of any firework.

With all that in mind, next time you head out to celebrate with some fireworks, think about all the hard work (and science) that is put into making a fantastic display. You might end up loving fireworks even more!

Are you interested in purchasing fireworks online? Let’s Party Fireworks offers you plenty of different options and ships nationwide for your enjoyment. Check out what we have to offer for your next big event!