Eight things you didn’t know about fire
Fire. It’s hot, orange, dangerous, and kills thousands of people every year.
It’s also a tree running in reverse, can make water, and it’s not even a thing at all.
Here are eight things you didn’t know about fire.
- Fire makes water. No, no, no. Water puts it out. How can a flame make water? If you place a cold spoon over a candle, you can watch water vapour condense on the metal. That’s because wax contains hydrogen and when you burn hydrogen and oxygen it makes H20.
- It’s an event. Fire isn’t a thing, but rather an event. Heating a fuel releases vapours that combust with oxygen in the air. This results in a bloom of gas which heats the fuel further, releasing more vapours, carrying on the cycle.
- Ancient Greeks could harness its power. Using a parabolic mirror, the Greeks could focus solar rays to concentrate sunlight. This technique is still used to ignite the Olympic torch.
- Spontaneous combustion is real. Fuel sources can generate their very own heat. One is by rotting for example. In fact, pistachios have so much natural oil that they are prone to heat-generating.
- Oxygen determines colour. A low-oxygen fire will give off a yellow glow. High oxygen fire will burn blue. Look closely at a candle. You’ll see the bottom of the flame is blue because that’s where they take up fresh air.
- There’s a fire that’s been burning a long time. A coal seam that lies about 140 miles north of Sydney has been burning for approximately 500,000 years.
- House fires can double every minute. That is, assuming stable fuel, heat, and oxygen levels.
- The Great Fire of London wasn’t so bad. Okay, it was pretty bad. It managed to destroy 80% of the city. But it also ended an outbreak of the bubonic plague that killed 65,000 people the year before.
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