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Homework Help: Why does cornstarch burn?

  1. May 2, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Cornstarch does not burn when its grouped together, but when you blow it into a flame, it creates a fireball. Why is this?

    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution

    I found out that other materials, like flour and some metals, create a fireball or flame when you blow it into flames. I still can't figure out why this happens...
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2010 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Many materials are like this. For instance, it's very difficult to ignite wood in the form of a log using just a match, but if you cut the wood into small pieces, they catch fire very easily.

    Can you think of a reason why cornstarch or flour or sawdust would be very flammable, but piles of cornstarch or flour and large pieces of would aren't as flammable?
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