Lots of people wonder what fire is made of, so read and find out.

The glow of a flame is somewhat complex. Black-body radiation is emitted from soot, gas, and fuel particles, though the soot particles are too small to behave like perfect blackbodies. There is also photon emission by de-excited atoms and molecules in the gases. Much of the radiation is emitted in the visible and infrared bands. The color depends on temperature for the black-body radiation, and chemical makeup for the emission spectra. The dominant color in a flame changes with temperature. The photo of the forest fire is an excellent example of this variation. Near the ground, where most burning is occurring, it is white, the hottest color possible for organic material in general, or yellow. Above the yellow region, the color changes to orange, which is somewhat cooler, then red, which is cooler still. Above the red region, combustion no longer occurs, and the uncombusted carbon particles are visible as black smoke.

So the flame itself consists of glowing, burning particles that rise due to convection and are called smoke and soot when they cool.



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