Is Fire Matter?
Is FIRE matter? Why?
Fire is a chemical reaction. Actually, it consists of a lot of chemical
reactions going on at the same time, in which the molecules of some fuel
(wax, wood, paper, oil, whatever) are broken down into smaller fragments by
heat, and then the small fragments combine with oxygen to make water, carbon
dioxide, ash, and "partial oxidation products" (when the fuel molecules
aren't broken down into the smallest pieces possible). These reactions
release heat, which is why fire is hot and makes light.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
As wood burns, it puts out gases which are lighter than air, sort of
like what is in your ballons that float up. These gases are flamable,
and burn. As they burn, while moving away from the wood, they give off
light. So a fire is made out of matter, but it is like a hot gas. You
could wave your hand thru this gas, just like though air, but of course
you had better not, you'd get burned!!!
Matter is anything that occupies space and has mass. Now, of course, we
must ask, what parts of "fire" meet those standards?
In the ordinary sense of the word, when something "burns," the atoms in
the burning substance are combining with oxygen to form a variety
different substances. In addition to the heat (a form of energy)
released when things burn, the temperature of the fire is often high
enough to cause some of those substances to emit light -- another form
If you could catch and collect all the new substances formed in the
burning process, you would discover that they do, indeed, have mass.
Therefore they meet the standard mentioned in my first sentence above.
Even the light produced has a mass equivalent. So it, too, meets the
Anything that has mass will occupy space. So it looks like fire is
matter even though it doesn't seem to weigh very much at all.
At one time - 2000 years ago - people though fire was an element. It's
The kind of fire that we usually think of (like a match burning) is heat
produced by a chemical reaction. Oxygen is combining with fuel... made
mostly of carbon and hydrogen. It creates carbon monoxide, carbon
dioxide, and H2O... water. Yep, fire makes water.
The heat that comes from the fire is energy released by the chemical
Perhaps the real answer to you question is that fire is heat energy.
Hope that helps.
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Update: June 2012