Pyrotechnically speaking: For your Fourth of July fun and fascination: The Chemistry of Fireworks an ACS holiday video

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.

Media Contact

Michael Bernstein

Michael Woods

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.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society contact


Credit: Kirk Zamieroski, American Chemical Society
High-resolution version