– is there a different between fire made by matches and fire made by lighters/gas? As in the final chemical makeup? Is the same looking orange flame made up of different stuff?


Wait.. what even is fire?

In: 1

When a match gets warm it undergoes a process called pyrolysis, where the wood breaks down and gives off combustible gases.

In each case, it is the gases that burn, so it is never the wood in the match that actually burns.

Smoke and yellow flame is indicative of incomplete combustion, where the flame can’t get enough oxygen to cleanly burn all the fuel, but they are the same process.

>Wait.. what even is fire?

Fire is an exothermic chemical process wherein a material is rapidly oxidized.

So fire is when a material reacts exothermally(create heat) with oxygen. Typically this means the material is made of hydrocarbons, meaning complex bonds of hydrogen and carbon. Typically there’s some other elements in there, and the complexity of the bonds allows for all kinds of material.

When fire happens all of these complex molecules are ideally converted into H2O(water) and CO2. This means there has been a full combustion because H2O and CO2 is as far as you can go, but this requires a high heat and lots of oxygen and does not always happen. In a incomplete combustion there are some more complex molecules of carbon hydrogen and oxygen that is allowed to gas off into the air. But to answer your question, mostly the fire is just CO2 and H2O, but how much of what depends on the fire, something like methane will be mostly water, where coal will be mostly co2.

In some fires there are other elements present which can be toxic, and if there’s not enough oxygen then carbon monoxide(CO, so like co2 but only 1 oxygen) is released, which is a dangerous odorless gas, which is why running your car indoor is very dangerous.

The color and wavelike movements you see in fires is extremely hot air. The color typically depends on how hot the fire burns, with red being low heat and blue/white being much higher heat. The temperature a fire burns depends on what the fuel is and how much oxygen is available.


I hope that helps.

The only time it would matter in everyday life is if you are a cigar smoker. Lots of cigar smokers don’t like the chemicals a lighter fluid fire leaves on the cigar as opposed to the cleaner fire of a butane torch lighter. Wood matches are also popular for cigars.