13 Things You Didn't Know About Fireworks

It's really a shame that there's only one day a year when fireworks are commonplace. They are the very definition of a public good, a beautiful thing that's all-inclusive and non-competitive. Anyone with a set of eyes and ears (dogs notwithstanding) can enjoy a spectacular show without tickets or cost, though sometimes fireworks do cost people those very things. As we get ready to honor our nation's beginning by shooting fiery birthday candles through our nation's spacious skies, here're 13 things you didn't know about fireworks.

1. China invented fireworks in the seventh century and continues to be the biggest producer

Made in China. Some things in America never change. 

2. Half of our states have very few restrictions on fireworks

Is your state one of the fun ones?

3. The largest fireworks display was in 2014 on New Year’s in Dubai

It took 10 months of planning, consumed 500,000 fireworks, and covered a distance of 58 miles. It lasted six minutes. 

4. In 2012, fireworks brought roughly 8,700 people to the emergency room

Be careful, okay?

5. The fear of fireworks is called pyrotechnophobia

It probably stems from an uncalibrated fear of bombs, which is reasonable. And after your fourth artillery shell launch, maybe pyrotechnophobia is pretty reasonable.

6. According to the BBC, half of all firework accidents happen to people under age 16

Which seems odd, because they can't legally buy booze yet.

7. John Smith set off the first American fireworks

Yes, that John Smith: Pocahontas’s a$$hole boyfriend.

8. Fireworks are more likely to injure bystanders

Remember the Katy Perry fiasco? Devastating. But if you've got the matches, you’re golden.

9. Sparklers are the second-largest cause of firework-related hospital visits

Someone's doing it wrong.

10. This is probably because three sparklers put together are as hot as a blow torch

I know, that surprised us too.

11. Fireworks’ different colors are caused by burning various salts

For instance, lithium salts make red, sodium salts make yellow, and copper salts make blue. Maybe consult this guy if you want more chemistry lessons. 

12. The first recorded fireworks in England were at the 1486 wedding of King Henry VII

The wedding was probably nice, but the couple were famously bad parents who spoiled their son Henry.

13. Black market fireworks are a big industry, even though they're seasonal

The law just snagged 18 tons in a California warehouse. They've done bigger though, seizing 25 tons earlier this year. Definitely a buzzkill, but so is losing your house to a Southern California fire.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supercompressor. He does not officially use fireworks. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.

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