According to a report from MPR, sparklers can burn as hot as a blow torch. But there’s much more to the science and safety of sparklers than this simple statement.
While facts like this may sound alarming, in reality, sparklers are nothing like handling a large open flame!
So how hot are sparklers really? And if they’re as hot as some claim, why don’t they feel that hot?
Keep reading to find out the basics of how sparklers are made, the science behind our sparklers, and what gives them their namesake sparkle.
Most people know that fireworks originated in China. But what about the sparkler?
The first sparkler is actually believed to have come from Heliopolis, one of the major cities of Ancient Egypt. While evidence points to the first sparkler being a weapon, it was quickly adapted for festivals and celebrations.
As far back as AD 670, people were celebrating love and victory with sparklers — just as we do today!
There are four key components to any sparkler: fuel, an oxidizer, a binder, and metal powder.
These chemicals are mixed with water to create a paste. This paste is then coated onto the sparkler “handle” and allowed to dry.
The fuel is what keeps the sparkler burning all the way down once it’s been lit. Without this the sparkler would die out shortly after being lit — nobody wants to relight their sparkler several times!
The oxidizer is a chemical that releases oxygen as it burns. Like a campfire might need some deep exhales to get started, a sparkler needs oxygen in the immediate area to continue burning.
The binder is simply the “glue” that holds all of these chemicals together on the sparkler. Oftentimes, the fuel, oxidizer, and binder might be only one or two chemicals serving multiple purposes.
The metal powder is what creates the namesake sparkle and glow.
Our sparklers feature a sturdy, attractive iron rod — not the flimsy wire or wood that some brands use. This rod is carefully coated with our special blend of chemicals to ensure a reliable, bright sparkle.
Our sparklers use Barium Nitrate as an oxidizer. This chemical is very common in all types of pyrotechnics.
We use Phenolic Resin as both a binder and fuel for our sparklers. This material is what billiard balls are made of and makes a great, non-toxic binder for pyrotechnics.
We use Aluminum and Magnalium powder in our sparklers. These metals create the classic gold-silver glow of our sparklers.
Each of our sparklers is double-dipped by hand in this chemical solution. This means they are guaranteed to light easily and burn brightly.
Larger (but still very small) pieces of metal are mixed into the powder. These metal particles are about the size of a grain of sand.
As the sparkler burns, these pieces of metal launch into the air and create tiny explosions. This is where the “sparkling” effect comes from.
If these slightly larger pieces of metal weren’t present, the sparkler would burn just like a really long match. And that’s not very exciting if you ask us!
The exact temperature depends on the type of sparkler, but one thing is true for all: they are very hot! Most sparklers can get up to 1800 to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit at their peak temperature.
While sparklers are extremely hot, they actually have very little (but not nonexistent — use appropriate safety precautions) chance of burning your skin. Here are a couple of the reasons why:
Recall how the flying sparks are actually small pieces of heated metal. Well, the type of metal these particles consist of matters, as well.
Metals like aluminum have a relatively low mass. This means, even when the metal itself is very hot, it’s not capable of transferring much thermal energy to another object.
Just like you can grab a “hot” piece of aluminum foil straight out of the oven, the metal particles from a sparkler will feel slightly warm at most!
Another factor in a sparkler’s heat is the size of the metal particles igniting off of the end.
The metal particles that create the sparks are so small that they cool within a fraction of a second. Any heat that these particles give off when first lit quickly disappears as they launch into the air.
Technically, sparklers are made of the same basic materials as a firework. But don’t let that scare you! The chemicals in sparklers are carefully mixed to burn slow and controlled — not like the big explosion of a firework.
The main difference in how a sparkler and firework “go off” is the heat reaction speed.
In fireworks, the explosive chemicals are tightly condensed into the very center. This is why a firework creates a loud, fast, and bright explosion. The chemicals are burning all at once.
Sparklers, as you can see by looking at one closely, have the explosive chemicals thinly spread across almost the entire length. This causes the slow, safe burning that allows our sparklers to last for up to 4 minutes.
Now that you know a little about the science behind sparklers, you can approach your wedding day with confidence knowing that you’ve chosen a safe and beautiful send-off!
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