July 4th is just around the corner.

To get you in the spirit of the holiday, our Reading employment agency did a little research and found 5 fun facts about how fireworks originated.

A Brief History of Fireworks – (what we like to call “The Big BAM Theory”)

1. Invention of gunpowder.

Gunpowder, the explosive in fireworks, is believed to have been accidentally created over 2,000 years ago by the Chinese. Someone combined sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate and then heated the mixture over a fire – and the rest is history!

2. First firework.

The earliest known firework was created by a Chinese monk named Li Tian over 1,000 years ago. He stuffed gunpowder into a piece of bamboo, and then threw it into a fire. The burning gunpowder caused a tremendous buildup of pressure and blew up the bamboo. Bam! The firework was born.

3. Fireworks become a true art form.

The Italians took fireworks to an entirely new level, and they are largely credited with creating the true beauties we see in modern fireworks shows. It was the Italians who developed the aerial shells that launch fireworks into the sky (where they’re much safer to view).

4. Fireworks get their color.

Fireworks may have existed for millennia, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that they evolved into the colorful displays we look forward to each Independence Day. Different metals produce the various colors we see:

  • Red comes from strontium and lithium.
  • Orange comes from calcium.
  • Yellow comes from sodium.
  • Green comes from barium.
  • Blue comes from copper.
  • Violet comes from potassium and rubidium.
  • Gold comes from charcoal or iron.
  • White comes from titanium or aluminum.

5. We’re hooked on our fireworks.

According to the American Pyrotechnic Association, Americans lit about 175 million pounds of fireworks in 2013. Consumers alone spent about $662 million on them that same year.

What can we say? We’re hooked! From all of us at Berks & Beyond, have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July.

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