Why Does Wood Catch Fire, But Metal Doesn’t?

Consider yourself snuggled around a bonfire. Soup is cooked over an open flame, producing a smoke-like odor. Looking at the orange tongues, you may question why the wood logs are on fire, but the metal pot isn’t. When it comes to why certain things burn, and others don’t, it all boils down to chemical connections and how much energy it takes to modify or break those links. But first, a few thoughts are on fire in general. Fire requires three things to start: oxygen, heat, and something to burn.

We Breathe In Oxygen, Which Is A Gas.

Heat may be produced through friction, such as when you strike a match, but it can also be made by other means, such as a bolt of lightning. Fuel is anything that causes a fire to ignite. A University of Oregon scientist, Carl Brozek, told Live Science that this might be anything formed from biological materials. Organic molecules are mainly composed of carbon-hydrogen bonds; however, additional elements such as phosphorus or nitrogen may also be present.

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Burning is a chemical process that releases energy from a system with weak chemical connections and an intrinsically unstable system. According to Brozek, molecules composed of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and a few other components want to be more stable than molecules composed of inorganic elements. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms make up cellulose. It is a chemical that quickly ignites flames in materials such as wood and paper.

According to Brozek, when you burn something, your system’s energy level drops and “discharges a lot of energy.” “And all of that energy needs to be channeled someplace.” When cellulose, a wood component, burns, it emits carbon dioxide and water vapor. The connections between these two gasses are robust, making them ideal for use in a fire. As a consequence of this chemical reaction, electrons in the gasses get excited and emit visible light. According to Brozek, this light seems to us to be a flame.

Wood Catch Fire

The Heated Pot Of Soup Against The Burning Log:

 According to Brozek, it all boils down to how efficiently a material can transfer heat from a flame, which is determined by the strength of its chemical connections. Metal is difficult to disassemble due to the power of its chemical bonds. On the other hand, a piece of wood cannot absorb the heat from the flame because it lacks the necessary strong connections. When wood burns, it emits energy rather than conserving it. “The metal in the pot has a strong capacity to absorb and transfer that energy,” explains why you can feel the heat when you touch it.

Because wood absorbs more heat than other materials, it may not catch fire. According to Brozek, if you set a flame next to a paper cup full of water, the cup will not burn. The paper will not catch fire as long as the water absorbs the heat in the cup. This is an option, but we do not suggest it.

Some metals can catch fire, whereas others cannot. In pyrotechnics, “flammable metals” like potassium and titanium are often used. Powdered metals, according to Brozek, are employed in pyrotechnics because they have a larger surface area and react faster with heat and oxygen. These metals burn in various colors depending on the amount of heat and oxygen present in the process.

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