Every once in a while, I like to refresh y’all on the basic types of fireworks available on the consumer market. Today, I’m talking about a hands-down favorite – Roman candles. Roman candles aren’t really candles in the wax and wick sense, they are long tubes filled with pyrotechnic compounds that you point upward toward the sky for launching. Upon ignition, the Roman candle shoot of a rapid series of stars into the sky that burst at the apex into a certain color, report and effect by design.
Roman candles are created with the chemical bentonite, a lifting charge, pyrotechnic stars, black powder and a delay charge. Roman candles are not child’s play, they pack are real punch of explosives — so be cautious when using them. Official safety precautions say NOT to hold in your hand, although this is still how most people use them. As an alternative, you can stick them at a slight slant into a mound of sand or some other stable base.
When the fuse is lit on a Roman candle, it burns slowly until it reached down the tube to the first star. When the first star is lit, it is sent flying out of the tube with the powerful force of a speeding bullet. This explosion forces the fire further down into the tube to ignite the delay powder level. Once the next layer of delay powder is burned through, the fire will release the next star and so on until the last star is fired. Most Roman candles have 10 stars and when we are at the beach shooting them off, my kids like to count them off! For safety reasons, counting them is also a good way to ensure that the firework has been completely exhausted and there is not an unexploded star waiting to go off in your face.
It is worth mentioning that while we use Roman candles for happy times today, they received their name from a disturbing time in history. Historians report that the Roman emperor, Nero, who ruled from 54 to 68 C.E, persecuted Christians by tying them to poles in his garden. And, when they would not recant their belief in Jesus Christ, they would be drenched with flammable oils and then lit on fire for his personal amusement as well of that of the visiting guests and gawkers. I hope I didn’t ruin your enjoyment of Roman candles with that awful story and for that reason I wish that the industry would drop the name “Roman” and replace it with something else – have any ideas