Many people associate fireworks with Independence Day and New Year's celebrations. Do you know how fireworks were invented? Legend tells of a Chinese cook who accidentally spilled saltpeter into a cooking fire, producing an interesting flame. Saltpeter, an ingredient in gunpowder
, was used as a flavoring salt sometimes. The other gunpowder ingredients, charcoal and sulfur, were also common in early fires. Though the mixture burned with a pretty flame in a fire, it exploded if it was enclosed in a bamboo tube. This serendipitous invention of gunpowder appears to have occurred about 2000 years ago, with exploding firecrackers produced later during the Song dynasty (960-1279) by a Chinese monk named Li Tian, who lived near the city of Liu Yang in Hunan Province. These firecrackers were bamboo shoots filled with gunpowder. They were exploded at the commencement of the new year to scare away evil spirits. Much of the modern focus of fireworks is on light and color, but loud noise (known as "gung pow" or "bian pao") was desirable in a religious firework, since that was what frightened the spirits. By the 15th century, fireworks were a traditional part of other celebrations, such as military victories and weddings. The Chinese story is well-known, though it's possible fireworks really were invented in India or Arabia.
Firework Periodic Table
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