eli5 why does metal melt and wood burn/char


eli5 why does metal melt and wood burn/char

In: 6

The carbon bonds release a lot of energy when exposed to a little heat and oxygen. Metal will melt after you put intense amounts of energy into it because it doesn’t have carbon or carbon bonds with energy. If you take a lighter to (most) metals they will not experience any physical changes. Carbon can melt but it has to be at incredibly high temps to do so.

Wood is not a basic element, its a lot of organic material made of carbon, and carbon, in general doesn’t melt, it sublimes. While metals have a melting point that is achievable, carbon melting point is like 3,5K degrees and before that it combusts and becomes smoke.

EDIT: I was corrected, there are carbon based organic compounds that melt, like plastics. But it so happens that compounds in wood do not. Just for clarification.

Melting temperature and burning temperature are different. Wood actually does have a melting temperature, but it’s way past the melting temperature.

Similarly, metals generally have a burning temperature that is well past the melting temperature.

In the middle are plastics with melting and burning temperatures that are close together.

And then there are ceramics. It is technically possible to melt them, but technically they are already burnt… ceramics are weird.

The molecules in wood are super big organic (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc) molecules that can’t really “flow” around each other in a liquid.

If you got them hot enough to flow like that, the molecules would rip itself apart – either burn (in the presence of oxygen) or sublimate into gas.