Many of us enjoy celebrating Independence Day and special events with one of America’s favorite novelties-the sparkler. But what exactly is a sparkler and what do we really know about what many of us consider an innocuous version of a firework?
Question: What makes a sparkler sparkle?
The answer? Chemicals, metal, and fuel! Just those ingredients alone should give one pause before igniting a sparkler and waving it around without care.
Usually the rigid wire or stick of the sparkler is dipped into a soup of potassium nitrate compound with specific chemicals to achieve particular colors. The metal added to the mixture are commonly aluminum, iron, or steel, which create the sparking effect, giving the firework its namesake. The fuel added to the mix is often charcoal or sulfur. Now that you know what a sparkler is made of, think twice before you put one of these sparky candles on your cake- lest you like the taste of pyrotechnic sprinkles on top!
A Little History
The first sparkler was invented in 670 AD by the Greek Callinicos, in the city of Heliopolis. He called it cherosiphon, also known as “Greek Fire”, and it was originally meant to be used as a weapon. A safer, more toned down version was developed and used at celebrations. Modern sparklers made their debut in 1850’s Germany and were brought to the United States in the early 1900’s. Today, over two million sparklers are manufactured per day in America alone.
The longest sparkler in the world was 12 feet long and made right here in our home state of New Jersey!
Sparklers account for 16 percent of legal firework injuries, and 57 percent of that number are children the age of 5 and under. Sparking temperatures are between 1800 and 3000 degrees Fahrenheit- hot enough to melt gold and other jewelry, burn skin, singe clothing, and hurt eyes. We’ll see burns and eye injuries at our Family First Urgent Care offices in Oakhurst and Toms River. So take care when you light up one of these happy little batons of crackling light. We hope you’ll leave the fireworks to the professionals, but if you need us, remember at Family First, You’re Family.