I hope you get to spend Independence Day eating some pie, watching some fireworks, and lighting up some sparklers.
Americans love to add color, sparkle, glitter, and booms to their holiday celebrations. However, most people do not know that there are actually many metals in those fireworks and sparklers. We previously published an infographic that outlined the metals and elements that made fireworks spectacular.
This time, we will discuss those sparklers (that can be dangerous) and the metals that are needed to make them. One sparkler manufacturer noted that the most commonly used metal powder fuel to create flash powder and silvery-white sparkling effects in sparklers is aluminum (Al). However, iron filings and powdered metals are used for the color. Aluminum, titanium, and magnesium are known to give near brilliant white sparks, while iron produces orange sparks (no surprise when you think about the color of rusted iron). When iron and titanium are alloyed (ferrotitanium), yellow-gold sparks are produced.
However, those pretty little pieces of metal can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. A 2010 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report noted that there were an estimated 1,200 injuries associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets — most of which resulted in burns to the victims. (The CPSC offers a free poster to remind people of the danger of hot sparklers, and has issued mandatory safety regulations for fireworks devices, including sparklers.)
If you are manufacturing sparklers, it makes sense to use portable XRF analyzers in the quality control process to help ensure the correct metals are being used throughout the process. You want to produce the right colors and sparks that will light up your customers’ eyes, but make sure they are as safe as they can be.
If you do celebrate with sparklers this year, Diamond Sparkler offers these lighting and safety tips:
- Test your sparkler before your event.
- Light out of the wind.
- Light one at a time. Never light a bundle at one time.
- Light with a lighter that keeps your hand away from the flame, such as a butane or barbecue lighter. Or light one sparkler and then use that sparkler to light the others.
- Hold the sparkler horizontally or with the tip slightly lowered when lighting.
- Light the sparkler at the tip furthest away from the bare wire handle.
- Keep lit sparkler at arm’s length, away from the face, body, or clothing of yourself or people nearby.
- Do not re-ignite sparkler.
- Keep lit sparkler away from flammable materials, such a gasoline, hair spray, or alcohol.
- Do not grab the burned or burning portion of a sparkler.
- Dispose used sparkler in a bucket of water or sand or on a metal tray. Once cool, the used sparkler wires can be put in the trash.
So if you are manufacturing sparklers, make sure you are using the right materials and in compliance. If you are purchasing the sparklers, make sure you are using them safely.
We want everyone to have a safe and Happy 4th of July.