It was certainly fun to write — and I hope you got the chance to learn something too! If combustion is incomplete, a fire may also give off tiny solid particles of soot or ash. Fire doesn’t really have a shape, and the volume expands or contracts depending on what you add to it (in this case, oxygen). For example, a funeral pyre would eventually die out if it was not constantly furnished with oxygen and flammable material. However, in a discussion — or argument, depending on how you phrase it — I got into with a friend the other day was asking what state of matter fire is. Before the advent of the idea of plasma, man believed that fire was actually a separate element. What Is The Huntsman Spider? A flame emits incandescent light, which means that light with the highest energy (the hottest part of the flame) is blue, and that with the least energy (the coolest part of the flame) is redder. The composition of this part of the flame depends on the fuel that is being used. Most gases have no fixed shape or volume. How Do We Know The Chemistry Of Things In Space? It also emits radiation in other wavelengths but we cannot perceive with our eyes. Typically these are water vapor and carbon dioxide. There’s one final state of matter, and that’s plasma. Fire is a combination of matter and chemicals. The color of the flame is an indication of its temperature and the chemical composition of the fuel. Additional gases may be released from incomplete combustion, especially of "dirty" fuel, such as carbon monoxide or sulfur dioxide. Science cannot precisely describe the true nature of fire, but to clear up the doubts of inquisitive minds, fire is most similar to plasma! Why Are There Stones Alongside Railway Tracks? Burning a metal, such as magnesium, can ionize the atoms and form plasma. In addition to other products, the reaction produces carbon dioxide, steam, light, and heat. What Makes The Aurora Borealis So Beautiful? Always down to learn anything! What Would Happen If You Shot A Bullet On A Train? Furthermore, fire is incapable of forming structures like filaments, beams and double layers under the influence of a magnetic field. Not quite — if you put fire in a container, it’s not going to expand and fill the container in the same way as any other gas. By doing this, we’ll be able to get a basic idea of where fire would make sense. For the most part, fire is a mixture of hot gases. It’s not a perfect match, but it’s as close as science can come at this moment. The visible conflagration that one witnesses is simply gas that is still reacting and providing illumination. Aside from the hypothetical existence of “Dark Matter”, plasma is the most abundantly and scientifically accepted form of ordinary matter found throughout the universe! So… why can’t fire be a gas? So basically, fire’s atomic structure is acting like Switzerland did during the World War! That would mean it has a fixed shape, nice and stable. Can We Harness Electricity From Lightning? This is because the free electrons are not in constant physical contact with one another due to a lack of affinity towards each other. All types of fire gradually die out and cannot continue to exist in their natural state forever, unlike the above. Plasma makes the most sense because it … She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Thus, fire cannot serve as an electromagnet when exposed to a magnetic field, which is not the case with solids, liquids or gases. It’s more of a particle cloud than it is any other type of matter, and although plasma does bear some resemblance to gas, it’s still quite different. If the flame is hot enough, the gases are ionized and become yet another state of matter: plasma. Thank you so much for reading this article! Would we consider fire a gas? While there is a small amount of ionization going on in an ordinary fire, most of the matter in the flame is a gas. nice and complicated. Before Sir William Crookes identified the fourth state of matter (plasma) in 1879 , mankind only believed in three states of matter that were available to them. Do Cows Contribute More to Global Warming Than Cars? This property of plasma differentiates it from all other gases. For example, a blue flame may appear green if a boron-containing salt is present. Why Is It So Special? Methusaleh: The oldest tree in the world | What's the mystery of trees' immortality? Before the discovery of plasma, it was widely agreed that fire was its own element, because it didn’t conform to any of the categories which most matter fits into. Next, we’ll check out a solid. Near the base of a flame, oxygen, and fuel vapor mix as unburned gas. Sheepshead Fish: Facts About The Fish With Human Teeth, Circle Of Willis: Anatomy, Diagram And Functions. Doesn’t seem possible, right? That’s what we were told to believe in our science classes, right? Plasma has a quality where electrons are more free-roaming around the nuclei, rather than fixed in particular positions like in the other three kinds of matter. Why Don't They Have Parachutes For Passengers In Commercial Planes? Coefficient Of Restitution: Definition, Explanation And Formula. Fire is made up of many different substances, so it is not an element. That’s when it comes to asking where we officially classify fire. That’s like getting more money out of an already-empty debit account; it won’t work. Plasma resembles a gas more than any other state of matter, but it behaves very differently from a gas. While it's difficult to see it, flames expand outward like other gases. It's a phenomenon. This was after countless years of considering fire to be its own element. There are four fundamental properties: It’s not a solid, so we can rule that out right off the bat, but it’s not really a liquid. Lastly, laws of physics don’t permit extracting more energy out of a substance than you put in. Also, the laws of physics dictate that one cannot extract more energy out of a given substance without investing more energy into it. eval(ez_write_tag([[336,280],'scienceabc_com-box-4','ezslot_1',170,'0','0']));Let’s rewind and take a look at some of the earlier theories developed by humans to give tangible meaning to their outlandish findings. Are Giant Insects Larger Than Humans Possible? The ancient Greeks and alchemists thought that fire was itself an element, along with earth, air, and water. Look back to literally anywhere in time where there are humans, and you’ll find fire. This disqualifies it from constituting as a gas. The state of fire is plasma (mostly). This means that plasma can flow like a liquid or a fluid, comprised of specific  areas that are like groups of atoms sticking together. What Is The Fibonacci Sequence? The chemistry of the fuel plays its part as well, and this is the basis for the flame test to identify chemical composition. This is called a chemical reaction. Up next: a liquid. But… what about fire? Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. How Big Is It and Does It Bite? That means you’ll never be able to have a fire electromagnet — sorry to disappoint. These states of matter are used for classification of everything, and it’s up in the air where fire falls. The reason why light is seen is because the part of energy that is emitted as radiation has wavelengths in the range of what our eyes can observe. In addition to other products, the reaction produces carbon dioxide, steam, light, and heat. Flames are the result of a chemical reaction, primarily between oxygen in the air and a fuel, such as wood or propane. Imagine holding fire in your hands like a brick, storing it in some kind of vessel or even better, trying to fill a balloon with a raging inferno! There are several parts of a flame; each is made up of different chemicals. 7 Scientifically Inaccurate Things They Show in Movies: Most Common Movie Mistakes and Myths. However, the reason fire gets this classification is because it’s most like plasma. Fire is made up of many different substances, so it is not an element. Liquids don’t have to conform to a particular shape — meaning it’s looking good for fire — but they also do have a fixed volume, something the fire undoubtedly lacks. I spell with s and not z because I’m Australian and we follow the English method of word spelling. What are Glial Cells: Definition, Types, Functions of Glial Cells | Role in Psychology. Probably not plasma, either. A flame isn't round (except in space) because the hot gases are less dense than the surrounding air, so they rise up. So this is fire — well, not quite. Not taking sides…. Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox. Not exactly. If you’d like to talk, please email me at amesett@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn under Amelia Settembre. Does The Ground Beneath Antartica Have Minerals? To all those people who scratched  their heads during those  boring chemistry classes, here’s a piece of trivia: fire doesn’t really belong to any of the aforementioned groups. The state of fire is plasma (mostly). Fire has been an integral part of our society for ages, and thus it only makes sense that we’re able to understand what it is. Candle Science Trick to Extinguish Fire with Carbon Dioxide, How to Make Water From Hydrogen and Oxygen, What Happens to Candle Wax When a Candle Burns, Examples of Chemical Reactions in Everyday Life, Convection Currents in Science, What They Are and How They Work, The Origin of Wildfires and How They Are Caused, The Discarded Phlogiston Theory in Early Chemistry History, Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. Flames are the result of a chemical reaction, primarily between oxygen in the air and a fuel, such as wood or propane. Why Is the Color “Blue” Difficult To Find In Nature? Science cannot precisely describe the true nature of fire, but to clear up the doubts of inquisitive minds, fire is most similar to plasma! Thus, the safest answer for "What is the state of matter of fire?" In its true nature, fire does share some properties with other gases. This fact eliminates the slightest possibility of fire being a solid, liquid, or gas. we respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously, Updated on: 20 Oct 2019 by Team ScienceABC, What is Quantum Entanglement: Explained in Simple Words. There’s overwhelming evidence that fire isn’t any of the aforementioned states of matter. Fire is not matter. Fire isn’t a solid, either. Plasma resembles a gas more than any other state of matter, but it behaves very differently from a gas. In fact, the closest state of matter that it can be compared to is plasma. Science cannot precisely describe the true nature of fire, but to clear up the doubts of inquisitive minds, fire is most similar to plasma!eval(ez_write_tag([[580,400],'scienceabc_com-banner-1','ezslot_3',171,'0','0'])); Team ScienceABC is the handle of a team of engineers and science graduates who come up with brilliant ideas every now and then, but are too lazy to sit at one spot to complete an article, and dread the idea of being considered ‘regular writers’. Plasma resembles a gas more than any other state of matter, but it behaves very differently from a gas.eval(ez_write_tag([[468,60],'scienceabc_com-medrectangle-3','ezslot_2',169,'0','0'])); Every object that has ever existed on this planet can be classified into three basic states of matter: solid, liquid or gas. Or, you can say it's mostly gas, with a smaller amount of plasma. Why Do Thunderstorms Occur Later In The Day? So it isn’t really a liquid either. This type of oxidation is the source of the intense light and heat of a plasma torch. In other words, the exact definition of fire is still a bit of a mystery. Thus, fire is currently considered a plasma. The biggest issue here is fire not having this main, integral property. An exothermic oxidation reaction to be precise. However, the modern definition of an element relates to the number of protons a pure substance possesses. The first thing to do to officially break this down is to figure out what the major properties are of each of the states, and looking at which of those properties fire is able to qualify as. So it’s a gas, right?