Science, Tech, Math › Science How to Make Colored Sparklers Easy Homemade Colored Sparkler Recipes Share Flipboard Email Print Yogesh Singh / EyeEm / Getty Images Science Chemistry Projects & Experiments Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated June 08, 2018 Sparklers are small handheld fireworks that give off fiery sparks rather than explode. Sparklers consist of a thin metal or wooden stick coated with a simple pyrotechnic mixture. Colored sparklers really are as easy to make as regular sparklers. The difference lies in the oxidizer that is used. You're basically replicating a flame test, except in reverse since you know the colors to expect from various metal ions. Potassium nitrate or saltpeter will impart a violet color. Barium nitrate burns green. Strontium nitrate burns red. Aside from ordering from a chemical supply store, you can find strontium nitrate in emergency flares and potassium nitrate at some garden supply stores (or you can make it yourself). You can mix in other metal salts from the flame test or colored fire list, but only go for one color. If you try to mix colors, you'll likely wind up with a basic golden sparkler. There are several recipes for colored sparklers. Here are some examples. Ingredients are listed in terms of parts by weight, so you can use milligrams or grams or ounces...whatever works for you. Red Sparklers 5 parts strontium nitrate1 part shellac Dip iron wires or wooden sticks in the mixture and allow it to dry completely before use. Be sure to leave enough room on the stick so that you can hold the sparkler safely. Green Sparklers 300 parts potassium chlorate60 parts barium nitrate60 parts aluminum fines, flitter, or granules2 parts charcoal10% dextrin in water solution Dip the wires or sticks in a mixture made from the dry ingredients with just enough dextrin solution to make a thick slurry. Dry the sparklers before use. Another option for a green sparkler is to substitute boric acid or borax for the barium nitrate. Purple Sparklers 14 parts potassium nitrate3 parts powdered sulfur3 parts powdered charcoal2 parts aluminum flitter (for sparks)10% dextrin in water Dip the sticks in a mixture made from the dry ingredients with enough dextrin solution to make a slurry. Note that the human eye is not very sensitive to the color violet. The purple color is easily overwhelmed by the color that may be produced by any chemical contaminant in the mixture. If the sparkler appears yellow instead of purple, it means sodium is present. Salt is the most likely culprit. Substitutions in Sparkler Recipes By examining these recipes, you can see aluminum flitter may be added to make sparks in any sparkler. Fine particles of other metals also produce sparks. Titanium makes white sparks while iron filings produce golden sparks. Dextrin is a common binder and fuel in sparkler recipes. If it is unavailable, sugar or starch may be used. Other colors of sparklers are also possible. For example, using a copper salt will produce a blue or a green flame, depending on the oxidation state of the copper. The default color of a sparkler is yellow or gold, but the color may be brightened and enhanced by adding a small amount of table salt or sodium chloride (NaCl) to the mixture. Adding the tiniest amount of salt to a red sparkler can produce an orange flame. Calcium salts can also produce an orange color. Disclaimer: Please be advised that the content provided by our website is for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. Fireworks and the chemicals contained within them are dangerous and should always be handled with care and used with common sense. By using this website you acknowledge that ThoughtCo., its parent About, Inc. (a/k/a Dotdash), and IAC/InterActive Corp. shall have no liability for any damages, injuries, or other legal matters caused by your use of fireworks or the knowledge or application of the information on this website. The providers of this content specifically do not condone using fireworks for disruptive, unsafe, illegal, or destructive purposes. You are responsible for following all applicable laws before using or applying the information provided on this website.