What causes the colors in fireworks?

From red to silvery-white, here’s a list of some of the most common elements used to give fireworks color


Everyone is familiar with the age-old custom of shooting fireworks in celebration of the Fourth of July, but what gives those fireworks that spectacular, colorful hue?

According to the United State Geological Survey, mineral elements provide the color in fireworks.


A red color for fireworks is created by using strontium, a metal used in signaling, oil, gas production and magnets.


Fireworks glow yellow when created using sodium. In addition to the yellow coloring for fireworks, sodium is used in polyvinyl chloride plastic (also known as PVC) made from chlorine and paper-pulping chemicals.


Barium is used to give fireworks a green coloring. This element is also used in medicine, oil and gas production.


Both blue and purple colors are made when fireworks have copper in them. Copper is one of the oldest metals used by humans and is mainly used today for electronics and power generation.


Titanium, zirconium and magnesium can all be used to make fireworks grey and white. Titanium is overwhelmingly used to give metal alloys a white pigment. Meanwhile, zirconium is used in the ceramics industry, and magnesium is used in furnace linings for manufacturing steel and ceramics.

Mixing together specific elements can help produce other colors, such as orange (strontium and sodium), silvery white (titanium, zirconium and magnesium) and lavender (copper and strontium).

Gold sparks are produced from fireworks by iron fillings and small pieces of charcoal. The bright flashes and loud bangs are also produced by aluminum powder.

For more information on mineral production and uses, visit the USGS website here.

About the Author:

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined ClickOrlando.com in April 2022.