July 4th celebrations are usually filled with color, sparkle, and glitter as Americans celebrate the Independence Day holiday. Many in the country will be able to enjoy professional displays this year as fireworks are returning after going dark last year during the pandemic.
However, most people do not know that there are actually many metals in those fireworks and sparklers.
When it comes to fireworks, metals are a key component in their beauty and booms.
- Aluminum, which is used extensively in aircraft, automobiles, and appliances to make them lighter, is used in fireworks to produce bright flashes and loud bangs. Aluminum is a non-ferrous metal and the second most plentiful metallic element on earth. It is lightweight, easily formed, and highly conductive.
- Copper, which has been key in the modern age, is being used extensively in energy-efficient products. Copper, along with other nonferrous metals including aluminum, nickel, and tin, doesn’t lose any of its chemical or physical properties during the recycling process, which means it can be recycled indefinitely. It’s very alloy-friendly as well. And it’s also the element that makes the blue color in fireworks.
- From the Greek phrase “a metal not found alone,” antimony is a silvery, lustrous grey semi-metallic toxic element used to create firework glitter effects. Yet it is also used in tracer bullets, cable sheathing, batteries, and semi-conductor technology.
Take a look at this infographic to find out 9 Fast Facts About Fireworks and the metals used to make them look spectacular!
However, please leave the fireworks to the professionals. The CDC recently noted that Fireworks-Related Injuries and Deaths Spiked During the COVID-19 Pandemic and published a new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that finds a 50 percent increase in deaths and injuries from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 2019.
- At least 18 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 12 reported for the previous year.
- About 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020. There were about 10,000 ER-treated fireworks injuries in 2019.
The CDC also offers these tips to celebrate safely and help ensure watching fireworks is an enjoyable experience:
Tips to Celebrate Safely
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from the fireworks device quickly.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water, and throw them away.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
- After fireworks complete their burning, to prevent a trash fire, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.
- Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- For more fireworks safety tips, visit www.cpsc.gov.
Enjoy but respect these metals; we want everyone to have a safe and Happy 4th of July.