Aluminum, Barium, and Strontium in Fireworks

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Here's a forum of several amateur makers of fireworks discussing the pros and cons of lithium carbonate:
https://www.amateurpyro.com/forums/topic/7583-red-star-lithium-carbonate/
And there's several other references on the forum.
 

danielB345

New Member
May I suggest that the Professor of Chemistry and the person who wrote the above are aware that Lithium imparts a red colour when held in a bunsen burner. It could therefore conceivably be used to impart a red flame in pyrotechnics. However if you read the body of my text, 2 prominent authorities (Lancaster 1972, Ellen, 1968) state that while this is so, Lithium is NOT used in fireworks because is a. too Hygroscopic and b. too expensive. I can verify this from my own work in the industry. It's simply not used in practice. Ammonium Perchlorate is an excellent rocket propellent and is used in the shuttle boosters. You could probably make firework rockets with it. But it is never used to make firework rockets in the firework industry because it is very expensive and quite reactive.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Lithium is NOT used in fireworks because is a. too Hygroscopic and b. too expensive. I can verify this from my own work in the industry.
Your own personal experience might not represent the entire industry. As noted above, multiple sources disagree with you.

Here's another amateur pyro sharing his experience:
https://www.amateurpyro.com/forums/topic/3282-list-of-pyro-chemicals-and-terms/
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Lithium is NOT used in fireworks
this large well established fireworks company says otherwise
https://www.profireworks.com/fireworks-101/chemistry-of-fireworks/

https://www.profireworks.com/about-us/
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
From Pyrotex, one of the UK's leading manifacturer of fireworks and large display organisers
(bold mine)
 

danielB345

New Member
From Pyrotex, one of the UK's leading manifacturer of fireworks and large display organisers
(bold mine)
The display companies that you quote don't manufacture. I can't see any manufacturing facility on their website. They are a bit coy about that. It looks like they import from China like everyone else. So they generally know next to nothing about manufacturing. Just as the boss of Wal Mart won't be an expert in say, paint manufacture. He just sells the stuff. However they do have to put some infomercial stuff on the web site to keep the punters happy. And they get it wrong. My business partner did the same, but hey, who would really know? They download stuff off the net just like you are doing. However even your own quote from an amateur says: 'Limited use in indoor fireworks' and photoflash'. Neither of which are fireworks. Also same person. 'Very Hygroscopic' attracts moisture (so not practical in commercial use-the product becomes wet.) I quoted you the 3 world authorities on manufacturing: Shimizu, Japan, Lancaster UK, Ellen US, who have written extensively and discount the use of Lithium salts. You respond with advertising blurb by retailers who have never made a firework in their lives. Also one of the retailers states that Phosphorous is used in fireworks. Please check this also. This is another GLARING ERROR. Both the red and white variety are both far too reactive for firework use. They would explode during handling and shipping. This makes me think that the person writing the advertising blurb went to Wikipedia for their information. And got it wrong.
 
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danielB345

New Member
I'm genuinely interested in establishing something as near to the truth as it's possible to get on the subjects that you discuss on this site. Especially 911. I want to know what happened. I don't wish to be rude, (and get deleted) but I find your arguments unconvincing. We know that intel agencies and the deep state do indeed conspire to commit crimes, both in the West and elsewhere. Examples are: the WMD fiasco, Gulf of Tonkin (exposed and admitted by no less than Robert Macnamara in the documentary 'The Fog of War') and 'Iran Contra' whereby officials in the US intel agencies dealt drugs and arms to finance a war in Nicaragua. These are now widely recognised as real conspiracies by elements in the state apparatus to commit crimes and lie to the public. Your unwillingness to accept my evidence regarding the absence of Lithium in firework manufacture reflects a dogmatic attitude which I find thoroughly unconvincing. I will not be be using this site as a source of information in the future as I feel you have an agenda which is to 'debunk at all costs' rather than seek the objective truth (or as near as it's possible to get within reason) It wasn't researchers like "Matabunk' that uncovered the crimes of 'Iran Contra' or WMD. But honest courageous journalists who today seem to be a dying breed. I honestly fear you would try to 'debunk' these issues. And that is not serving the interests of the world at large.
 

Landru

Moderator
Staff member
Your unwillingness to accept my evidence regarding the absence of Lithium in firework manufacture reflects a dogmatic attitude which I find thoroughly unconvincing.
Most of your post is off topic but the on topic portion is above. The point is you haven't provided any evidence that Lithium is not used in fireworks. You have been presented with evidence that it is being used. Multiple sources in fact. Metabunk is dedicated to removing bunk and the way to do this is with evidence.
 

Landru

Moderator
Staff member
Please scroll up and re-read my evidence.
Mostly you don't list any other than your assertions. The few cites you do provide do not in fact list Lithium as an ingredient which would be good evidence except for the citations provided (numerous) that do. Please read the Posting Guidelines and PM if you have any questions.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Please scroll up and re-read my evidence.
you saying stuff is not evidence. Just like you saying someone said something is not a quote, you could take photos of the book page that includes the quote if you can't find info online.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
It would be very interesting if this were some kind of urban legend that has somehow crept into the mainstream.
The American Pyrotechnics Association doesn't have it listed on their 2001 standards
2001.PNG

http://www.americanpyro.com/assets/docs/PHMSADocs/apa stand 87-01.pdf

and a 2009 paper? I found
https://www.researchgate.net/public...a_Deep_Red_Pyrotechnic_Flame_Based_on_Lithium

Although this 2017 article makes it sound like the research in the paper above hasn't gone anywhere (apparently they are trying to make fireworks less toxic so want to get rid of the strontium
Scientists are also developing new ways to produce brightly colored but environmentally friendly flames. A group led by Jesse Sabatini, an energetic-materials chemist at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, has developed a green-burning compound that uses tris(2,2,2-trinitroethyl)borate instead of barium. The color’s spectral purity far surpasses that produced by barium formulas, Sabatini says.
)

 

danielB345

New Member
you saying stuff is not evidence. Just like you saying someone said something is not a quote, you could take photos of the book page that includes the quote if you can't find info online.
The American Pyrotechnics Association doesn't have it listed on their 2001 standards
View attachment 33909

http://www.americanpyro.com/assets/docs/PHMSADocs/apa stand 87-01.pdf

and a 2009 paper? I found
https://www.researchgate.net/public...a_Deep_Red_Pyrotechnic_Flame_Based_on_Lithium

Although this 2017 article makes it sound like the research in the paper above hasn't gone anywhere (apparently they are trying to make fireworks less toxic so want to get rid of the strontium
Scientists are also developing new ways to produce brightly colored but environmentally friendly flames. A group led by Jesse Sabatini, an energetic-materials chemist at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, has developed a green-burning compound that uses tris(2,2,2-trinitroethyl)borate instead of barium. The color’s spectral purity far surpasses that produced by barium formulas, Sabatini says.
)

Thank you Deirdre! I think a lot of people just 'copy and paste' information from the internet. I believe this is what has happened here. Because they can cite an article, (say by a professor of chemistry , who wouldn't know one end of a firework from the other) they think it must be true. I think a lot of chemists test the colour of the elements over a bunsen burner and wrongly assume that that element must therefore be used in fireworks. However it will not be used in commercial fireworks if: It is shock or friction sensitive (red Phosphorous- yes used in matches and toy caps, Potassium Chlorate - except in Malta where they build a chapel next to the factory to mitigate) hygroscopic (sodium, Lithium) very expensive (silver, Lithium, Magnesium - before mass production made it cheaper) not readily available for whatever reason. The 'urban myth' element reminds me of something 20 years ago. Many of my friends were asking me 'What's all this about this 'new' gunpowder that's been invented?' There was no such thing. Newspapers like to invent stories sometimes and firework stories around Guy Fawkes night are no exception. I could cite them here (cut and paste) but it wouldn't make them true.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Newspapers like to invent stories sometimes
they do, but we found quotes and citations going back the earliest part of the 20th century. If so many articles are written by so many science sources (I saw a lot of science sources!), then maybe you fireworks guys should speak up once in a while.

So.. as far as the actual topic/title of this thread, the OP (Opening post) is there any wrong data in that?
 

danielB345

New Member
'Lithium is used in fireworks' is a little like saying: 'Banana skins are used for smoking.' Generally people smoke tobacco or other things. But there will be someone somewhere trying to smoke a banana skin. There's probably a factory in a village somewhere making (bad) fireworks with Lithium. But 99.99% of world factories will use strontium because its cheaper, less hygroscopic and gives a far better red colour.
 

danielB345

New Member
they do, but we found quotes and citations going back the earliest part of the 20th century. If so many articles are written by so many science sources (I saw a lot of science sources!), then maybe you fireworks guys should speak up once in a while.

So.. as far as the actual topic/title of this thread, the OP (Opening post) is there any wrong data in that?
I think there is evidence that they've tried to use Lithium yes, but it's not practical for reasons given. I think 'science' people seem to like writing about fireworks. And they step outside their field of expertise. As far as the opening quote, I think it was said that Lithium is used in firework manufacture. I really don't think it is.
 

danielB345

New Member
Not in the opening post. no. You can read it here https://www.metabunk.org/posts/114156/
No problem with the opening post no. Tons of Barium Nitrate (toxic) , Strontium Nitrate and Aluminium metal (toxic) will be dumped into the sky on July 5th. No mention of lead though. The Chinese love to use red lead in their formulas, long since banned in paint due to it's toxicity. It's used to make the loud crackle and streaming 'Tiger Tail'.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Your unwillingness to accept my evidence regarding the absence of Lithium in firework manufacture reflects a dogmatic attitude which I find thoroughly unconvincing.
Unfortunately though there's a large number of authoritative-seeming sources going back 100 years that say lithium is used in fireworks.

The original claim came from NASA. I referenced it indirectly in my post:
Another common metal in fireworks is lithium. This is also used by NASA in their upper atmosphere sounding rockets (basically giant fireworks). This prompted the idea that someone is spraying everyone with lithium to calm them down (Lithium is a mood-stabilizing drug). It's actually the same compound, lithium carbonate, used as both a firework ingredient, and the drug.
I didn't supply a source, but it was likely one such as:
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sounding-rockets/tracers/faqs.html
Since there were literally thousands of sources backing this up, it seemed quite reasonable to assume it was correct. Now you come and tell us it's not used, and that strontium is used instead, and you give use some references that would seem to indicate that. However there's more than three times as a many results for "firework lithium" as "firework strontium" - indicating if it's a myth it's a very popular one.
Metabunk 2018-07-22 16-17-02.jpg

If we limit the search to books strontium takes the lead 7620 to 4290 for Lithium, however still strong evidence that Lithium is used.
Metabunk 2018-07-22 16-21-19.jpg


The point being that it's very difficult to discern the extent to which lithium is used in fireworks when there's thousands of sources telling you it's common. You coming here and telling us the opposite, and then accusing us of some systemic bias is perhaps not the best way to approach things.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Mick West (& et al)....I've missed this logical and coherent discussion of facts...especially in this era of so much nonsense being promulgated.
Thank You for keeping it honest!
 
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Whitebeard

Senior Member.
A very easy way to resolve this is to send a few emails to some fireworks companies saying ''excuse me, but do you use lithium or compounds there of to make red sparks, or do you use strontium or some other metalic type stuff" and see what comes back.

I've a very busy few days coming up, but if find a spare 30 mintes I'll get on to it.
 

danielB345

New Member
A very easy way to resolve this is to send a few emails to some fireworks companies saying ''excuse me, but do you use lithium or compounds there of to make red sparks, or do you use strontium or some other metalic type stuff" and see what comes back.

I've a very busy few days coming up, but if find a spare 30 mintes I'll get on to it.
Thanks that might be worth doing. Please only contact a manufacturer, not one of the hundreds of retailers or display people or you might find you just get more bluff and mis-information. It's a pride thing. 95% of the fireworks used are made in China, although there's still manufacture in Spain, Malta, France, Japan, Taiwan, India, Germany. You could ask Ron Lancaster of Kimbolton in UK. He wrote the book I cited: 'Fireworks Principles and Practice '. I think Zambelli of New York manufacture.
 

danielB345

New Member
Unfortunately though there's a large number of authoritative-seeming sources going back 100 years that say lithium is used in fireworks.

The original claim came from NASA. I referenced it indirectly in my post:

I didn't supply a source, but it was likely one such as:
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sounding-rockets/tracers/faqs.html
Since there were literally thousands of sources backing this up, it seemed quite reasonable to assume it was correct. Now you come and tell us it's not used, and that strontium is used instead, and you give use some references that would seem to indicate that. However there's more than three times as a many results for "firework lithium" as "firework strontium" - indicating if it's a myth it's a very popular one.
View attachment 33910

If we limit the search to books strontium takes the lead 7620 to 4290 for Lithium, however still strong evidence that Lithium is used.
View attachment 33911


The point being that it's very difficult to discern the extent to which lithium is used in fireworks when there's thousands of sources telling you it's common. You coming here and telling us the opposite, and then accusing us of some systemic bias is perhaps not the best way to approach things.
I just did a search for 'Lithium fireworks' and found the same as you. It's very odd. They also say calcium salts are used to produce orange which is new to me also. The same sources said common salt was used (hilarious) and Phosporous (lethal)I think your earlier source saying that the US army is experimenting with Lithium now to try to reduce toxicity is illuminating. Maybe this is where the misinformation is coming from.
 

danielB345

New Member
I just did a google search for 'Fireworks Phosphorous' I got 296,000 results. NO type of phosphorous is used in fireworks at all. (except matches and percussion caps) The product would explode on handling and transit. Ask any firework manufacturer worth his strontium salt. One of the offending articles was in a website: 'Chemforkids.com' so any child gets his hands on some phosphorous and weedkiller will probably be killed trying to make a firework. Thanks a lot Chemforkids! It just shows the staggering misinformation out they when you google 'the facts'.
 

danielB345

New Member
The white variety of phosphorus is used by the US military and the Israeli military as a smokescreen. It's used on civilians in Gaza and burns through to the bone. The burns are very difficult to treat in hospital. You may find old firework books with recipes for white phosphorous rockets but it's never used now in fireworks as it spontaneously combusts in contact with air. Red phosphorous is the stuff on the strip of safety matchboxes and ignites on striking the potassium chlorate contained in the match head.
 

Miss VocalCord

Senior Member.
Just my 2 cents for the lithium in fireworks discussion; I tried to find some information here in the Netherlands about it, but if we ignore all 'global' sources telling lithium is used for coloring the information is rather sparse, however a few interesting things:

There is a research from the RIVM (government institute) from 1994 about New Years eve 93/94 where they measured the air and searched for different elements (a table for a specific location can be found on pdf page 15)
https://www.rivm.nl/dsresource?obje...aa34-7938b60926d0&type=org&disposition=inline

This research doesn't mention lithium at all as one of the found elements. Do notice that it is from early nineties and in the Netherlands fireworks is mainly used by consumers around New Years eve. (very few big organised professional ones).


There is another research from a tragedy in 2000 where a firework storage caught fire and blew up an entire residential area.
https://www.rivm.nl/bibliotheek/rapporten/609022002.pdf

They also measured and researched dust particles after the disaster and did found lithium (see page 23). The research doesn't go any further into lithium since they consider the amounts found above the reference value too little to be a danger to have any effect on health op people. (page 39).
Of course it isn't said the lithium found could be traced back to the fireworks or there was another source for it. (not sure about lithium batteries in 2000)


One last paper which might be interesting is from 2002.
http://www.chemischefeitelijkheden.nl/Uploads/Magazines/CF-194-vuurwerk.pdf
They talk about using lithium as a replacement for strontium in order to create some 'eco-fireworks' (what's in a name....).


Sorry for all the Dutch references, but my own conclusion is that I can't really say there is lithium used in nowadays fireworks. It seems strontium is at least cheaper to use, and if lithium is used it doesn't seem to be the default choice for the reddish color.
 

danielB345

New Member
There's always the exception to the rule, see You tube: Mexican Fireworks sledgehammer fireworks (Potassium Chlorate mixed with red phosphorous.) These are home made.
 

danielB345

New Member
Just my 2 cents for the lithium in fireworks discussion; I tried to find some information here in the Netherlands about it, but if we ignore all 'global' sources telling lithium is used for coloring the information is rather sparse, however a few interesting things:

There is a research from the RIVM (government institute) from 1994 about New Years eve 93/94 where they measured the air and searched for different elements (a table for a specific location can be found on pdf page 15)
https://www.rivm.nl/dsresource?obje...aa34-7938b60926d0&type=org&disposition=inline

This research doesn't mention lithium at all as one of the found elements. Do notice that it is from early nineties and in the Netherlands fireworks is mainly used by consumers around New Years eve. (very few big organised professional ones).


There is another research from a tragedy in 2000 where a firework storage caught fire and blew up an entire residential area.
https://www.rivm.nl/bibliotheek/rapporten/609022002.pdf

They also measured and researched dust particles after the disaster and did found lithium (see page 23). The research doesn't go any further into lithium since they consider the amounts found above the reference value too little to be a danger to have any effect on health op people. (page 39).
Of course it isn't said the lithium found could be traced back to the fireworks or there was another source for it. (not sure about lithium batteries in 2000)


One last paper which might be interesting is from 2002.
http://www.chemischefeitelijkheden.nl/Uploads/Magazines/CF-194-vuurwerk.pdf
They talk about using lithium as a replacement for strontium in order to create some 'eco-fireworks' (what's in a name....).


Sorry for all the Dutch references, but my own conclusion is that I can't really say there is lithium used in nowadays fireworks. It seems strontium is at least cheaper to use, and if lithium is used it doesn't seem to be the default choice for the reddish color.
very interesting, thank you.
 

danielB345

New Member
This has terrible implications for the future of human knowledge. And it's not as though anyone has anything to gain from the mis-information in this case. It's just casual and lazy repetition of a falsehood thousands, possibly millions of times. I think it was Goebbels who said if you repeat a falsehood often enough, it becomes truth.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I think Zambelli of New York manufacture.
One of the main articles that threw me was
the bottom of the article says
A used book is only 4 dollars. Unfortunately there isn't a kindle version, which means [I'd] have to read the book to find "lithium" :(
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I think it was Goebbels who said if you repeat a falsehood often enough, it becomes truth.
irony?

https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/...say-a-lie-told-often-enough-becomes-the-truth
 
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