A Brief History of Fireworks

Have you ever wondered how fireworks came into existence? The next time you purchase a set of fireworks from places like Uncle Sam Fireworks, Indiana Fireworks or the Firework Store in Chicago IL, think about how far they’ve come!

200 B.C.

Bamboo gets thrown into a fire in China and explodes as the air inside the reeds expands; thus, basic fireworks are born. Locals decide they should use this method to scare away evil spirits.

600 – 900 A.D.

When a Chinese alchemist combines charcoal, sulfur and saltpeter and sets it on fire, pyrotechnics are born. He discovers that the more oxygen-rich the saltpeter, the bigger the explosion. Soon after, the Chinese are packing rocks, powder, and metal into containers to create weapons.

1295 A.D.

Marco Polo brings various fireworks to Europe from his trip to the Orient, (along with spices, jewels, porcelain and other items that are less exciting and don’t explode.)

1400 – 1500 A.D.

The renaissance results in unparalleled advances in literature, art – and fireworks. Italians launch projectiles while burning charcoal and powdered metals slowly in open tubes in order to create sparklers. Controlled fires become a common occurrence at coronations, although commoners miss out on the fun and excitement.


Italian pyro technicians use various metallic salts and chlorinated power to add color to fireworks displays. They discover that using potassium chlorate as an oxidizer will make the hues brighter.


Cherry bombs (used as weapons during the Civil War) are banned in the U.S. They continued to be illegally used, though, by many people, including the Who’s Keith Moon who not only blew off steam but hotel toilets.


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission puts certain requirements on fireworks, including making the fuses burn from 3 – 9 seconds. They also require safety warning labels to be placed on all fireworks that are sold.


Disney World launches compressed air fireworks instead of gunpowder fireworks at Epcot’s pyrotechnic show IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. For American pyromaniacs, Disney theme parks are the “happiest place on earth” and Disney remains the largest U.S. consumer of fireworks.


The Chinese Olympic Committee admitted that CGI was used to enrich their fireworks display that included footprints appearing to walk across the sky for fans watching on TV and Jumbotrons everywhere. The Gucci family, who created the original display, is not amused.


Katy Perry releases her hit single, “Firework,” which was reportedly inspired by a passage from Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road.”

So the next time you’re buying fireworks from stores like Uncle Sam Fireworks, Indiana and Chicago Firework Super Store, or Indiana Fireworks, think about how far technology and pyrotechnics have come. From simple explosions to elaborate ‘light the sky’ displays, you can appreciate the dedication and work involved in making the fireworks we know and appreciate today. Although they are considered much safer today than in years today, it’s important to treat them with the care and respect they deserve! Always take safety measures when planning a fireworks display. If possible, make sure they are lit near a water source or have a water source on hand in case of an emergency.

US Fireworks can take care of all of your fireworks needs, whether you’re throwing a small family gathering, or planning a large city event. Call or visit the website today for more information.

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