When you’ve devoted your existence to fire safety, you learn a thing or two about the phenomenon you’re trying to prevent – and fire is fascinating stuff. There’s always more to learn. Here are some of our favourite discoveries about fire.
You Can Start a Fire with Ice
Don’t believe us? Well you’re right to be skeptical, but here’s the proof:
Try it for yourself – all you need is water, a tinfoil mould and a freezer.
Fire Makes Water
All the fuels we use contain hydrogen; natural gas, petrol, wood and coal to name a few. The process of combustion combines the hydrogen in the fuel with the oxygen in the atmosphere, making H2O.
You can see this in action by putting a cool metal object (like a spoon) a couple of inches over a candle, to catch and condense the water vapour.
Earth is the Only Planet We Know of Where Fire Happens
Mercury has no atmosphere to speak of, and so no oxygen to facilitate combustion. Venus is ferociously hot, with regular lightning to deliver sparks – but has a suffocating CO2 atmosphere and no fuel.
Mars is a freezing cold desert and Jupiter is a giant ball of gas (just like Saturn). In fact, no planet in our solar system or beyond has been found to have the conditions necessary for fire to occur – but fires have burned in space.
The Colour of Fire Tells You a Lot
Under normal conditions, the colour of a flame can tell you what elements are present in the fuel source. If barium is present, a flame can burn green. Lithium burns an intense red. Sodium gives off a golden colour. That’s how fireworks make different colours.
In working or lab conditions, the colour of fire can tell you how hot it’s burning, which is an indicator of how much oxygen is feeding it. Oxygen-rich flames burn blue – and very hot. An acetylene torch running with pure oxygen, for example, burns blue at over 3,400ºC.
Blue flames are the hottest you’re likely to encounter, and reddish flames are much cooler. Red flames are full of impurities and burn dirty with soot. This stymies the oxygen intake somewhat, resulting in a cooler flame. The colour and temperature are directly related.
A House Fire Can Double in Size Every Minute
A house fire can become deadly in the space of two minutes – remaining fairly inconspicuous up until that point. Our homes are full of fuel; furniture, fabrics and paper. Once fire takes hold, assuming a constant flow of air is maintained, it can double in size with each passing minute.
At Coopers Fire, we’re always developing our products to keep us at the cutting edge of fire safety. To find out more about our products and services, or to enrol in one of our educational training courses, call us on 02392 454 405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.