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What Makes a Sparkler Sparkle?

Sparklers are great for any occasion, whether celebrating the 4th of July, ringing in the New Year, or sending off a recently wed couple. There’s something magical about these seemingly simple fireworks displays.

And yet, there’s more to a sparkler than meets the eye. Ultimately, a chemical reaction is responsible for the components within a sparkler that create that adorned sparkle. But, to get to the bottom of this, to understand what makes a sparkler sparkle, we’ll have to switch gears to the chemistry behind sparklers.

The Parts of a Sparkler

The traditional sparkler is made up of four primary substances, an oxidizer, a binder, a fuel, and a colorant.


The binder of a sparkler is what holds everything together. Sugar, starch, or shellac are all standard binders found in sparklers. In addition to keeping the fireworks together, the binder can also serve as a fuel or a reaction moderator.


The mixture within a sparkler to burn correctly relies on an oxidizer. Perchlorates, chlorates, or nitrates are common oxidizers. In sparklers, mostly potassium chlorate or potassium nitrate are used as oxidizers.


In the sparkler, the oxidizer creates oxygen, then burned by the fuel. This process will produce hot gas. Either sulfur or charcoal is the most commonly used fuel in sparklers.


To provide different color options, metal salts can be added to the sparkler mixture. Sodium, calcium, copper, barium, and strontium are examples of some metals used as colorants.

A Chemical Reaction

The oxidizer within a sparkler produces oxygen when the firework is lit. Hot gas is emitted as the fuel burns this oxygen. The magical sparkle we all know and love results from the burning powdered metal from the sparkler.

Let’s Spark Something!

Now that you know what makes a sparkler sparkle, all you’re missing is the sparklers! Thankfully, at Jerry Pelfrey Fireworks, we can help provide you with endless firework options.

Whether you’re looking for a private show or wholesale purchases for a firework business of your own, you’ve come to the right place. Jerry Pelfrey Fireworks is the largest independent fireworks business in Kentucky. Contact us today by calling 606-367-5569.

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