Fire is a natural chemical reaction that generates light and heat. It’s useful for many things, including clearing land, signaling and communication, metalworking and ceramics, and even creating art. It can be dangerous and destructive, however, so it’s important to know what fire is, how it happens, and what it can do.
How does fire spread?
Flames move upward, because they’re hotter than the air around them. They also form a sphere, because of gravity.
In an open space, a fire burns very quickly. That’s because there’s no barrier to stop the flames from spreading throughout the entire space.
When the fire is confined, such as inside a house, it can take longer for the flames to spread. In addition, the fire may be more likely to catch on fire in a place that has high walls, because it will need to get through those walls to make progress.
It also takes time for the fire to reach places that it would have a harder time getting to, such as through a ceiling or other structures. This can make it difficult for firefighters to fight the fire.
What is the most common type of fuel?
Wood and other combustible material are the main fuels for fire. But other substances, like gasoline or methane gas, can ignite as well.
But it’s not easy for wood to spontaneously catch on fire, because it has to be heated up. That can come from a match, a focused light, friction, lightning, or anything else that can heat up the material enough to break down some of the cellulose in it and create a chemical reaction.
The chemistry behind this reaction is very complicated, but we understand it as follows: If you have fuel that’s hot enough and oxygen around, it will ignite by heating up its atoms and breaking down their bonds. When the atoms break down, they’ll form volatile gases that will react with oxygen in the atmosphere.
These gases are called “oxidants.” They produce a lot of heat, which is what helps the fire continue to grow. Then, the flames become very large and produce a plume of hot gases that collect at the top of the flame, which spreads the fire by convection and radiation.
It’s very hard to control where a fire starts, so it’s very important to follow some basic rules when starting one.
Start with small amounts of fuel that won’t spread very fast, such as low-density wood or a few pieces of coal. Don’t be tempted to use larger pieces of fuel, because that will only add to the fire’s size and make it more likely to burn down.
Once the fire is well fueled, it can be controlled with sprinkler systems and other tools. If you’re not sure how to control the fire, a trained professional can help.
If you want to be able to have a safe and secure retirement, the FIRE philosophy of investing more than the average person to help them achieve financial independence early on is a great idea. That means setting aside a certain percentage of your income each month to invest, and working toward a goal of retiring at an earlier age than the average person will be able to do.