Question

Why does firewood crackle when it is thrown in a fire?

Asked by: Susannah

Answer

If you have ever "distilled wood", you already know the answer to this question.

Solids and liquids do not burn. First they vaporize to a gas, then the gas burns. When wood is burned, the wood itself vaporizes. Much of this vapor is gaseous wood alcohol and water/steam. If too much vapor is trapped inside the wood, it will exert pressure and cause the wood to pop which causes the crackle.

"Distilling Wood" can be done by heating wood chips in a test tube and condensing the effluent vapor. This produces water, wood alcohol and activated charcoal.

Answered by: Christopher Ingram, B.S., Independent thinker

Search

Loading






Science Quote

'I believe there is no philosophical high-road in science, with epistemological signposts. No, we are in a jungle and find our way by trial and error, building our road behind us as we proceed.'

Max Born
(1882-1970)

Top Selling

Here are our physics & astronomy bestsellers:
Magnetic Levitator - Classic
KonusScience 5 Way Microscope Kit
CHEM C2000 Chemistry SuperKit v2.0
Snap Circuits Jr.
Periscope
Space Wonder Gyroscope
Solar Radiometer
Mini Plasma Ball
Smart Robot 4M Kit
130 Electronics Projects Kit

Sponsors

USC University of Southern California Dornsife College Physics and Astronomy Department McMaster University Physics and Astronomy Department