Study of consumer fireworks post-blast residues by ATR-FTIR

Carlos Martín-Alberca, Félix Zapata, Héctor Carrascosa, Fernando E. Ortega-Ojeda, Carmen García-Ruiz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Specific analytical procedures are requested for the forensic analysis of pre- and post-blast consumer firework samples, which present significant challenges. Up to date, vibrational spectroscopic techniques such as Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) have not been tested for the analysis of post-blast residues in spite of their interesting strengths for the forensic field. Therefore, this work proposes a simple and fast procedure for the sampling and analysis of consumer firework post-blast residues by a portable FTIR instrument with an Attenuated Total Reflection (ATR) accessory. In addition, the post-blast residues spectra of several consumer fireworks were studied in order to achieve the identification of their original chemical compositions. Hence, this work analysed 22 standard reagents usually employed to make consumer fireworks, or because they are related to their combustion products. Then, 5 different consumer fireworks were exploded, and their residues were sampled with dry cotton swabs and directly analysed by ATR-FTIR. In addition, their pre-blast fuses and charges were also analysed in order to stablish a proper comparison. As a result, the identification of the original chemical compositions of the post-blast samples was obtained. Some of the compounds found were potassium chlorate, barium nitrate, potassium nitrate, potassium perchlorate or charcoal. An additional study involving chemometric tools found that the results might greatly depend on the swab head type used for the sampling, and its sampling efficiency. The proposed procedure could be used as a complementary technique for the analysis of consumer fireworks post-blast residues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemometrics
  • Fireworks
  • Forensic analysis
  • Post-blast residues
  • Pyrotechnics


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