The Science of Fireworks

The Science of Fireworks

This is the biggest, brightest, hottest video there is about the science of fireworks. This video is brought to you by Kiwico – go to for your first month free!

If you’re looking for a molecular modeling kit, try Snatoms – a kit I invented where the atoms snap together magnetically:

Check out Gene’s channel here — @PotatoJet

Massive thanks to Mike Tockstein from Pyrotechnic Innovations @PyroInnovations
and Will Scott from Las Vegas Display Fireworks Inc, for all your pyro knowledge and keeping us safe.

Massive thanks to Gene Nagata from PotatoJet for filming this episode – check out his wonderful channel for more videos about cameras and FPV drones.

Thanks to Brandon Williams for helping with the chemistry and sourcing of materials.

Thanks to Matthew Tosh for the help with the chemistry conversation about fireworks.

Thanks to Simon Werrett for the help with the history of fireworks.

Werrett, S. (2010). Fireworks: pyrotechnic arts and sciences in European history. University of Chicago Press

Special thanks to our Patreon supporters:
Emil Abu Milad, Tj Steyn, meg noah, Bernard McGee, KeyWestr, Amadeo Bee, TTST, Balkrishna Heroor, John H. Austin, Jr., john kiehl, Anton Ragin, Diffbot, Gnare, Dave Kircher, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Josh Hibschman, Mac Malkawi, Juan Benet, Ubiquity Ventures, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Stephen Wilcox, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Michael Krugman, Sam Lutfi.

Written by Derek Muller
Edited by Trenton Oliver
Animated by Ivy Tello and Fabio Albertelli
Filmed by Derek Muller, Hunter Peterson, Gene Nagata, Raquel Nuno
Production by Hunter Peterson and Stephanie Castillo
Additional video/photos supplied by Mike Tockstein/Pyrotechnic Innovations
Music from Epidemic Sound & Jonny Hyman
Produced by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, Emily Zhang, & Casper Mebius

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37 Responses

  1. 10 ON 10 - Travel & Entertainment says:

    *Those drone shots were epic!*

  2. GLaza says:

    The reason why copper can produce green and blue colors depending on the environment is that copper ions can exist as cuprous (Cu+) and cupric ions (Cu2+). Cuprous ions produce blue flame color, while cupric ions produce a green one in the presence of halide ions. When a flame contains reducing agents in excess (e.g. candle flame or burning alcohol), then the cupric ions get reduced to Cu+, so the flame will turn from green to blue. As the cuprous salts are generally not stable, blue fireworks usually contain Cu2+ salts and the rest of the mixture is made to have a strong reducing environment (fuel excess), so the cuprous ions are formed in situ during the combustion.

    • Big Bad Wolfdog says:

      Nice, this is something I never knew! Thanks!

    • Razar Campbell says:

      @Syed Raed A. Gilani
      Coincidentally, I had a similar question to this one appear on my grade 12 final exam (for chemistry). However, the answer was never part of the course material and the question was asked to test our ability to think about the behaviour of atoms/ molecules, without regurgitating quotes from a textbook. My final results were good enough to guarantee me a place in the university of my choice. I ended up doing a BSc with a double major in organic chemistry, as my first degree.

      I tells ya, the world around us and the universe around it, make so much more sense when you understand chemistry. It gives you the grounding needed to understand how, when and why an atom/ molecule will or won’t react with its environment. You understand how “life” is just a series of self-sustaining biochemical reactions and you can see how inanimate matter can easily become living tissues, through entirely natural processes. That’s not to say that studying university-level chemistry WILL turn you into an atheist. It WILL show you matter can form from energy, how life can come from non-life and how evolution works on a molecular level. In other words, you’ll learn how everything in the universe works and how it was formed and none of those answers are ever “God did it.” They are all answers that you can test for yourself in a lab, seeing the truth for yourself. It doesn’t teach that God doesn’t exist, rather it shows you how God isn’t necessary, isn’t needed for anything that exists.

    • Mohd ANZAR says:

      ​@Syed Raed A. Gilaniseriously no other religion talks about jins (other worldly beings ) …I highly doubt tht!

    • Ronnie Banerjee says:

      10th grade islamic preacher on a science channel. Religion says you absolutely can’t question God, Science says that God is probably fake, big oof.

  3. Potato Jet says:

    Hell yeah! Thanks for letting me fly through the finale!! Biggest Adrenalin rush while flying ever! Felt like I was in Star Trek or something!

    • Michael says:

      Great flying and beautiful shots! I also fly FPV drones (although I do freestyle and not cinematography), and I have to say that your flying was impressive, especially considering how disorienting it is to fly in the dark!

    • TENNOM says:

      amazing shots! even after crashing and repairing once

    • The Hobbist says:

      This needs to be pinned!

    • Roots Echo says:

      You just saved me from starting a comment with [SPOILER ALERT]
      Man: Like a 80’s scifi movie flying through galaxies. Really impressive

    • Kristen Rowen-Pliske says:

      It was like flying through stars!

  4. Lightning Rocket Creates says:

    As a big pyrotechnic enthusiast it really touches my heart that someone you made such an amazing video showcasing this art. Fireworks are truly amazing, I love that you are able to share it with us 🙂

    • Just A Dude says:

      Explosions are awesome, in the old meaning of the word, and fireworks are explosions dressed up for a party. A good fireworks display is absolutely magical.

  5. shockwave68516 says:

    Blue and purple are the hardest colors to achieve due to their temperature needs, which Derek saw first hand trying to use the sprays. As someone who’s worked with fireworks for 15+ years now, it’s great to see a video like this be spread to the masses.

  6. Necroseus says:

    This is, perhaps, the most watchable post-countryday weekend footage possible. Thank you for finally uploading a firework video that’s worth watching

    Also, absolutely adorable ending! Science kits are amazing

    • palocy masaio says:

      Derek’s maniacal laughter when that shell malfunctiioned was priceless. Also, watching those mortars produce those vortex rings was amazing. Thanks for the excellent video on fireworks, Derek

  7. Red Ore says:

    Veratasium in 2050: *We made nuclear weapons to explain every aspects of it*

  8. Alex says:

    The end where they were showing the drones view of the fireworks was insane, quite literally looked like what one might imagine the creation of the universe looked like. That was awesome, in the truest sense of the word.

    • Avi K. Shome says:

      The same thing came to my mind also. It was an incredible experience.

    • Omaansh Kaushal says:

      To me, it looked like meteors showering down in the empty sky… I’ve never seen anything remotely as amazing as these shots were

    • Avi K. Shome says:

      @Omaansh Kaushal have you seen Starwars Andor. The meteor shower scene was so damn amazing

  9. Arjit Saxena says:

    It has almost been eight years since I set out on YouTube to quench my curiosity about everything in general, and you have been one of my most favourite, dearest YouTubers all the while. I wasn’t the kind aiming to know more for academic excellence, it was more of my enthusiasm and curiosity which drove me to learning anything and everything i found interesting out here. You, Derek, have been one of my biggest admirations not only because how smoothly you cover difficult topics, but more coz of your excitement and enthusiasm while delivering this to us. Although I have remained a passive observer all these years, your recent few videos are masterpieces in all terms and I couldn’t help write another in a thousand comments how much you have influenced me nd fueled my scientific zeal further. Great job man, you will be an inspiration for generations to come. Love from India

  10. Diego Paredes says:

    This has to be one of the highest quality videos on the platform, from the visuals, cinematography, science, storytelling and concept. Keep up the good work, you’re an inspiration to us all

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