7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Fireworks

Fireworks have become a tradition in the U.S. for the Fourth of July. These seven facts about fireworks may surprise you.

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Nothing says July—and America’s independence—like fireworks. Fireworks have become a tradition in the U.S. on and around the Fourth of July. They’ve been scaring pets and entertaining humans for centuries with big explosions and bright colors.

But how did it all begin? We'll explore some fun facts as well as the history of fireworks from around the world.

1. China invented fireworks

China is credited with the invention of fireworks. Legend talks about a Chinese cook, who mistakenly invented fireworks while mixing charcoal, sulphur, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). The mixture was compressed in a bamboo tube and eventually exploded. Other accounts say that the Chinese used fireworks to scare away mountain men perceived as threatening.

2. Italy made fireworks pretty

Hats off to the Chinese for the invention, but Italy deserves the credit for making fireworks bright and beautiful. According to Smithsonian.com, Italy is responsible for introducing aerial shells to the firework world, which gives them their shape. The Italians also discovered the use of metallic powders to create desired colors. 

3. Fireworks came to America in 1777

Fireworks made their first official appearance on July 4, 1777. This excerpt from the Pennsylvania Evening Post described the occasion, “The evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” Since that day, fireworks have been an invaluable part of Independence Day celebrations.

4. The average consumer spends . . .

According to the Denver Post, the average American household is expected to spend $71.23 on fireworks in 2016, adding up to $710 million in total spend in the land of the free. Bonus fact: It’s projected that $6.7 billion will be spent on food this year for the Fourth of July.

5. The world’s largest fireworks show was in the Philippines

Dubai shocked the world in 2014 with a magnificent display of fireworks, which at the time set a world record for the largest firework display ever recorded. That record was broken in the Philippines on January 1, 2016 in the pouring rain, when 810,904 fireworks were set off. The show lasted 61 minutes and 32 seconds, according to Guinness World Records.

6. Disney is one of the largest consumer of fireworks in the U.S

Visit any Disney theme park at night, and you’ll know exactly why this fact made the list. Disney doesn’t just set off fireworks—it takes its visitors on an immersive storytelling experience in which fireworks are an essential part of the magic.

7. Blue fireworks are the hardest to make

With all the colors you see in a firework show, blue is indeed the most difficult to make, according to Jim Souza, whose company puts on the Macy’s July 4 event. Souza told Parade.com, “It’s harder to make blue. It’s all about balancing heat and the chemical compositions.”

Aside from the history and the fun, fireworks can be extremely dangerous. Fireworks send approximately 180 people to the emergency room every Fourth of July. The most dangerous types of fireworks are perhaps the simplest—firecrackers account for 20 percent of firework-related injuries each year and sparklers account for 19 percent. 

Remember that bystanders are also at risk when fireworks are around. Take precautionary measures this summer to ensure your own safety and that of your loved ones.

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