RSC - Advancing the Chemical Sciences


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The chemistry of fireworks (2nd edn)
Michael S. Russell
Cambridge: RSC 2008 | Pp192 | 24.99 | ISBN 978 0 85 404127 5
Reviewed by Adrian Guy

If, like me, you are a keen demonstrator or a pyrotechnic enthusiast then this book will be excellent value for money. The text is full of information which has helped to solve some long standing problems of mine, such as the practical details to make gunpowder bangers - adding gunpowder meal to the granulated powder has really improved my results. I also found alternative recipes for rocket propellants, which proved to be spectacularly successful, for example the epoxy resin bound perchlorate mixture on page 58. 

However, this is not a practical manual on making fireworks, nor is it meant to be. The author provides an insight into the history of fireworks, propellants, gunpowder and other explosive mixtures of relevance, complemented by lots of scientific theory on such topics as colour, entropy, enthalpy, ballistics and quantum theory.

This is a fantastic read for anyone interested in fireworks or pyrotechnics and is also ideally suited as an informative, stretching read for an A-level student. That said, this not a book you would necessary read chapter by chapter, but one you can use as a reference and dip into, depending on your interest. I would therefore also recommend this book to anyone with a keen interest in this field regardless of their background. If you want a good read that relates physical chemistry to real-world applications, buy this book.