Sparkler Science – How Sparklers Work

Ever wonder how a sparkler works? What type of reaction is happening to create the brilliant effect that can be seen at weddings and celebrations across the country?


A sparkler consists of four basic elements. An oxidizer, a reducing agent, a regulator, and a combustible binder. Now that we know the four elements of a sparkler, let us dive deeper, and look at each individual element, and see how they react with each other.


Oxidizers produce oxygen to help burn the mixture. Common oxidizers are nitrates, chlorates, or perchlorates. Most sparklers produced today use potassium perchlorates as their main oxidizer.

Reducing Agents

The fuel commonly used in sparklers are called reducing agents. The reducing agents are the fuel used to burn the oxidizers. Common reducing agents are sulfur and charcoal.


Two reducing agents may be combined to slow or speed up the reaction. Metal powders are also used as regulators to help slow down or speed up the the reaction.


Binders are what holds it all together. Common binders for sparklers are dextrin (sugar) dampened by water or shellac dampened by alcohol.

How It All Comes Together

The above chemicals are all combined in a specific recipe, mixed with water to create a slurry, and dipped and molded onto a metal wire.  Sparklers may be dipped multiple times. After that the product is left to dry and you have a completed sparkler ready to go!