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The science of sparklers

Speed read
  • Sparklers are a 4th of July tradition for US adults and kids alike.
  • The magic of sparklers evokes the wonders of chemistry.
  • American Chemical Society video explains how these handy pyrotechnics do their stuff.
Sparkling science. A close-up, slow motion look at the chemistry that makes sparklers work. Courtesy American Chemical Society.

No Independence Day celebration would be complete without the classic handheld sparkler. But how do they work?

Glad you asked!

Our good friends at the American Chemical Society have the answer. Check out this short video to learn how a rod of iron can throw off sparks at about 2900º F (1600ºC) yet not burn your hands.

Happy 4th of July — be careful out there!

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