Why Wood Burns Easily?

 By: Tauqeer Hassan
This sounds like a question of the Stone Age. All grade school students have probably done an experiment relating to this in their science class or in their backyard. The moral of the story is to keep the matchsticks away from misguided children.

All living things burn but dry wood burns very easily

All living things are made up of organic matter meaning oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. Living things burn because of the presence of oxygen in them, and wood burns because it has little water especially when it's dried in the sun. This is the reason it easily catches fire as its carbon and hydrogen component burn. However, not all types of woods are vulnerable to catch fire easily.

Generally, wood oxidizes easily but does not catch fire unless it reaches its supposed flash point. At this point, the wood releases gas where there is an interface between the flame and the surface, the part appears to be on fire but in fact it's not. The oxidation-reduction happens in the gap in which fire supports itself up to 900 degrees F.

Parts of wood

Those parts of wood that catch fire are the organic compounds that are found in large remains in its bark and juice. The juice of the tree contains remains of glucose that is volatile and flammable. Carbon and ash is also present in wood that prevents it from burning, in fact they are potassium, magnesium and calcium deposits.

The smoke seen in the burning wood is actually a group of hydrocarbons that are freed from the wood's surface. When the temperature increases to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, this is the point when they start evaporating. If it gets higher than they are going to catch fire.

When charcoal is burned, much fire is not seen because charcoal is pure carbon. The little burning fire comes from the remaining glucose and hydrogen deposits.

The uses of wood

Wood is biodegradable in its natural state and this is because it enriches the earth. It keeps the surrounding air cool and even when it is burnt; it requires less energy than steel. Wood is always renewable.

Wood is used for building houses, furniture, shelter, fences, bridges and many other objects. According to many designers, wood pleases the eye more than concrete or metal.

The uses of fire

Fire was not just used by the prehistoric men for keeping themselves warm during the night. They also used it for many other activities like cooking meat and root crops, lighting their way for hunting and scaring the wild animals. Our ancestors were able to mark their places with fire in the immense darkness of jungle while hunting. This process led to the discovery of burning grass that proved good for both the land and the jungle. Ash serves as a good fertilizer for the ground making place for new grass, crops and plants to grow.

As the climate change is on the rise, forest fire will not be a good idea and it would be the last thing one would wish.
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