Public Release: 

Pyrotechnically speaking for your 4th of July fun and fascination

The Chemistry of Fireworks: An American Chemical Society holiday video

American Chemical Society

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2012 -- From the hiss of the fuse to the boom and burst of colors, an American Chemical Society (ACS) video, available again this year, explains the science behind the exciting sights and sounds of Fourth of July fireworks. The video is available at

The Chemistry of Fireworks describes how these perennial crowd-pleasers represent chemistry-in-action with a demonstration by fireworks expert John A. Conkling, Ph.D. Author of The Chemistry of Pyrotechnics, Basic Principles and Theory, Conkling is an adjunct professor with Washington College, Chestertown, Md., and a past executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.

The video was produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs and takes a close look at the components of fireworks, including time-delay fuses, fuel and bursting charges, and explains how the vibrant colors are generated. Most importantly, Conkling says, "We must remember: Safety first!" That's especially true this scorching summer, when heat and drought have led to restrictions on use of fireworks in parts of the country.

Conkling says there are good reasons why fireworks have such a universal appeal to people of all ages. For adults, fireworks bring back youthful memories of family holidays. And for kids, they are spectacular displays of light and color on the super-big screen of the night-time sky.


The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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