How DO They Get Those Colors?

As you watch fireworks this July 4th, remember that the colors that are splashed across the sky are the direct result of mined minerals and metals. The components of fireworks—when heated to specific temperatures—give off a colorful glow. Metals like aluminum, magnesium, and titanium burn very brightly—and are useful for increasing a firework’s temperature.

Barium is combined to create green colors.

Copper is used at lower temperatures to create blue colors.

Red colors are created with either lithium or strontium.

White colors are made from either magnesium or aluminum.

Yellow colors require sodium.

Other colors—such as orange, silver, and lavender—can be created by mixing compounds. And, special effects are created by yet other mineral products.

The American Pyrotechnics Association reports that more than 186-million pounds of fireworks were consumed in the U.S. last year—with more than 163-million pounds of that figure involving consumer fireworks. More than half of America’s mineral needs, however, are currently met by foreign imports. That’s why the National Mining Association is calling on Congress to reform the nation’s mine-permitting process.

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