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Chemical versus nuclear reaction in charcoal

  1. Jul 27, 2007 #1
    From my experience one cannot under go a nuclear reaction of a material by heat alone, so why does charcoal, which all i have heard is carbon, yeild potassium and sodium compounds when heated? :mad:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2007 #2

    chemisttree

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    Charcoal is the partially burned or charred remains of plant material. Plants contain sodium and potassium and so does the charcoal and so does the ash. You will probably find magnesium oxide in there as well.
    No nuclear reaction here.
     
  4. Jul 27, 2007 #3
    I have another related question. how could i seperate the sodium and potassium oxides? I have many times noticed the smell of ammonia when decomposing charcoal what is this from?
     
  5. Jul 27, 2007 #4

    chemisttree

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    It depends what the charcoal was used for. Cooking charcoal should not smell like that. Activated charcoal can smell like that, especially if it has been used to filter an aquarium.
     
  6. Aug 1, 2007 #5
    the charcoal was from charring plant remains then furthur decomposing them with a strong heat
     
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