Invention of Fireworks
Many people associate fireworks with Independence Day, but their original use was in New Year’s celebrations. Do you know how fireworks were invented? Legend tells of a Chinese cook who accidentally spilled saltpeter into a cooking fire, producing an interesting flame. Saltpeter, an ingredient in gunpowder, was used as a flavoring salt sometimes. The other gunpowder ingredients, charcoal and sulfur, also were common in early fires. Though the mixture burned with a pretty flame in a fire, it exploded if it was enclosed in a bamboo tube.
This serendipitous invention of gunpowder appears to have occurred about 2000 years ago, with exploding firecrackers produced later during the Song dynasty (960-1279) by a Chinese monk named Li Tian, who lived near the city of Liu Yang in Hunan Province.