Combustion Reaction Examples
A combustion reaction is the chemical term for a process known more commonly as burning. Combustion reaction is a type of chemical reaction involving two substances which usually include oxygen and heat. In addition to heat, it is common for a combustion reaction to release light or produce a flame. In order for the combustion reaction to begin, the energy needed to activate the combustion must be overcome. Most of the time combustion reactions are started with a match or another flame. The match provides heat to initiate the reaction. Once the reaction starts, enough heat is produced to keep the reaction until it runs out of fuel or oxygen.
Combustion reaction is one of the earliest chemical changes discovered by humans, due at least in part to the dramatic effects it has on materials. Early humans were probably amazed and frightened by the devastation resulting from huge forest fires or by the horror of seeing their homes catch fire and burn. But fire (combustion), when controlled and used correctly, was equally important to their survival, providing a way to keep warm and to cook their meals.
Most substances that combust are biological and frequently have some combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in their composition, just like wood. However, other non-biological substances can and do undergo combustion. Some metals, such as magnesium, also combust, producing metal oxides.
The fuel source is most often wood, gasoline, or coal. There are other forms of combustion reactions which are essential to life. They are used to generate power, provide heat, run motors and cook food. Of the numerous examples of combustion reactions there are several that are commonly understood.
1. Burning woodBurning wood in a fire is an example of a combustion reaction. In the combustion reaction, the carbohydrates in wood combine with oxygen to form water and carbon dioxide. This reaction is very energetic, and it generates heat and light as it releases that energy.
2. A Lighted matchA lighted match is another example of a combustion reaction. When a match is struck, friction heats the head of the match to a temperature where the chemicals react and generate more heat than can escape into the air, and together a flame is produced. If a wind blows away the heat or the chemicals are moist and friction does not raise the appropriate temperature, the match goes out.
3. Burning coalBurning coal qualifies as a combustion reaction because coal transforms from a solid element to a vapor during the process. Coal is comprised primarily of carbon, and when heated, reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere. In turn, it gives off large amounts of heat, making it a stable source of heat and energy.
4. FireworksFireworks are smaller examples of combustion: when the end of a sparkler or firework is lit, heated chemicals react with oxygen in the atmosphere to produce heat and light that transpires as colorful displays.
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