|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
The region of the reaction where all the "stuff" takes place is a small area between the actual fuel ( that which is being oxidized ), and the flame and smoke (reduction) called the "flame interface. If you were to strike a match and observe its burning process closely you will notice that the flame does not actually touch the match. The space between the flame and the match is the flame interface and this is where all the chemical majic, i.e. oxidation-reduction reaction is taking place. It is, as you already know, a straightforward chemical chain reaction. This is all the result of rethinking the old fire triangle which used to illustrate that it took 3 things to make and sustain a fire: 1.) fuel, 2.) heat, and 3.) at least 16% oxygen. The fire tetrahedron has since took its place in the past forty years or so adding to the above threee criteria the fourth element of fire theory which is the chemical chain reaction. For a simple flame test, the hottest part of the fire is just above the flame. A good analogy would be the sun. The sun's corona is much hotter than the sun's surface, by a million degrees or more. Most of the answer comes from the Internation Fire Service Training Association's publication, Essentials of Firefighting, the standard by which most fire cadets are introduced to the basics of firefighting. You can also do a search on most search engines via the internet by using "fire tetrahedron" or "fire chemistry". Thank you for the question, Donald E Duggan
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