How much energy does a fire cracker produce?

Published on Nov 11, 2023

We are all at the cusp of witnessing the Festival of Lights i.e. Diwali.

But what it also comes with is a celebration using Crackers (fireworks), that can excite any human being, let alone a child.

In this blog, we wanted to look at how much energy this firecracker contains. Here we go!

Well, it depends. It depends on the type of cracker we choose. There are multiple types of crackers, which go by different names and types in India like rocket garlands, flower pots, ground spinners, atom bombs (not the humanity-damaging ones though🙂)

These crackers usually contain explosive material like gunpowder in reasonable quantities that make bursts, also known as pyrotechnic bursts. Pyrotechnic bursts are responsible for colours in firecrackers. These bursts consist of five basic ingredients:

  • Colour-producing compounds: Specific compounds produce intense colours when burnt. In fireworks, usually used ones are strontium, calcium, sodium and barium in salt form while copper, aluminium and magnesium are used as metals.
  • Fuel: Gunpowder, which is a mixture of potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal. It allows firecrackers to burn.
  • Oxidizer: Provides oxygen to power fuel combustion. Includes nitrates, chlorates, and perchlorates.
  • Chlorine donor: It helps strengthen some colours.
  • Binder: It holds the firecracker mix together. Includes usually, dextrin (a type of starch) and water.

If you are deep into chemistry, the below is the closest representative equation of a firecracker burst

6 KNO₃ + C₇H₄O + 2 S → K₂CO₃ + K₂SO₄ + K₂S + 4CO₂ + 2 CO + 2H₂O + 3N₂

Through the above equation, we can see the harmful greenhouse gases that are being released through such firecracker bursts.

As gunpowder(fuel) is the reason behind the firecracker burst, let’s look at the gunpowder energy metrics which would allow us to calculate the energy generated by a cracker.

Specific energy of gunpowder — 3 MJ per kg

The total estimated weight of firecrackers used during Diwali in India is 100,000 tons of firecrackers.

Gunpowder usually makes up 25% of the weight of the firecrackers, meaning it goes to 25,000 tons of Gunpowder being exploded or nearly 22.6 million kg. The energy that gets exploded into the air is 22.6 mn kg* 3 MJ per kg = 67.8 * 10¹²J or 67.8 TJ !

If you want to know the energy emitted by a single firecracker, on average it contains 50mg of gunpowder, which translates to 150 J of energy.


Has our celebration gone above and beyond?


Written by Zodhya

About Zodhya

We are Zodhya, a start-up that provides AI-based tech to reduce energy bills and lower emissions for commercial buildings and industries.