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Definition: firework from Collins English Dictionary


1 a device, such as a Catherine wheel, Roman candle, or rocket, in which combustible materials are ignited and produce coloured flames, sparks, and smoke, sometimes accompanied by bangs

Summary Article: firework
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Device that produces a display of colour, smoke, noise, or a combination of these three; examples include bangers, Catherine wheels, and Roman candles. They always generate heat. Fireworks were invented in China, and are today common in most countries. Pyrotechnics is the science and art of designing and using fireworks. Fireworks are used for displays and military purposes (including illumination and signalling).

What fireworks are made of There are three essential components of a firework: a fuel (since all fireworks are based on combustion), an oxidizer (a substance that readily releases oxygen, to enable the fuel to burn more rapidly and effectively), and a binding agent to hold the first two together. All these materials are compressed in a container, usually cylindrical and made of rolled cardboard. Fuels used in fireworks include charcoal, magnesium, and gunpowder. Commonly used oxidizers include strontium nitrate, potassium chlorate, and potassium perchlorate. Binding agents include polyvinyl chloride and resorcinol resin.

Specific colours produced include red, by including strontium compounds (which in the flame produce the unstable strontium chloride, giving a red light), blue, from copper compounds, green, from barium compounds, yellow, from the element sodium, and white, from magnesium. Sparks are produced by including metal flakes in the firework, for example titanium or aluminium.

Rockets Firework rockets follow the same principles as any other rocket. In this case the payload is the firework effect, and the fuel is gunpowder. Firework rockets typically travel 60 m/200 ft. They are usually hollow in the centre to provide maximum surface area open to air for the propellant to burn rapidly.

In Britain, fireworks are used on 5 November, Guy Fawkes Day.



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