Striking a match, Endothermic or Exothermic?

In summary, the conversation is discussing whether striking a match is an endothermic or exothermic reaction. The student is unsure because the ignition process requires heat, but they have read that endothermic reactions absorb heat. The expert clarifies that the activation energy needed for a reaction is different from whether it is endothermic or exothermic.
  • #1
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Homework Statement



I was wondering whether striking a match is endothermic or exothermic.

Homework Equations

The Attempt at a Solution



This seems quite straight forward as striking a match releases heat, which is obviously exothermic. However, the process of igniting the match requires heat in itself, so I was wondering since the reaction required heat, would it be endothermic instead? I read from a post somewhere that for a reaction to be endothermic, heat is absorbed for the reaction to occur. Since heat is required for the initial ignition of the match, wouldn't that be an endothermic reaction? As well, is the bolded statement correct?
 
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  • #2
You are confusing the activation energy needed to trigger a reaction with whether the reaction is endothermic or exothermic. Since this is marked as homework, I'll leave it at that for now.
 

1. Is striking a match an endothermic or exothermic reaction?

The act of striking a match is an exothermic reaction. This means that it releases energy in the form of heat and light. Friction between the match's head and the striking surface causes a chemical reaction that ignites the match and produces a flame.

2. What is the chemical reaction that occurs when striking a match?

When a match is struck against a rough surface, the phosphorus sulfide coating on the match head reacts with the potassium chlorate, producing potassium chloride and phosphorous pentoxide. The heat generated from this reaction then ignites the red phosphorus, causing the match to light.

3. Why does striking a match produce heat?

Striking a match produces heat because it is an exothermic reaction. The energy released from the chemical reaction between the match head and striking surface is converted into heat and light. This is what causes the match to ignite and produce a flame.

4. Can striking a match be considered a spontaneous reaction?

Yes, striking a match can be considered a spontaneous reaction. This means that it occurs naturally without the need for an external source of energy. The chemical reaction between the match head and striking surface happens spontaneously and produces heat and light on its own.

5. Is striking a match a reversible reaction?

No, striking a match is not a reversible reaction. In a reversible reaction, the products can react with each other to reform the original reactants. However, once a match has been struck and the chemical reaction has occurred, it cannot be reversed. The match will continue to burn until all the reactants have been used up.

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