Why does Fire give off Smoke?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I can why fire would give off gasses. In particular if one is burning CH4 there would be a lot of gaseous CO2 and H2O. Why, when I burn wood, does a fine particulate matter get kicked up into the air? Why does it not fall to the ground like ordinary solid matter? Is there a lot of frictional force between smoke particles and air, not unlike a feather?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Hootenanny
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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My guess would be that smoke (carbon particles) is being carried up by the hot air via convection.

~H
 
  • #3
Danger
Gold Member
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Hoot has it pretty much. Smoke isn't just carbon particles, but that forms the majority of most wood or paper smoke. Pretty much any particulate matter that survives the burning process becomes smoke. You can tell, for instance, the difference between burning wood and burning steak by smelling it. That's a result of the various chemicals involved.
 
  • #4
rbj
2,226
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and eventually the particles do fall to earth. (or maybe some particles end up in clouds seeding raindrops.)
 

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