|MadSci Network: Other|
The blue area is the part of the flame where combustion is the most complete. Here very little else is produced aside from heat and light when compared to the yellow part. Of course carbon (C) is produced as well as small amounts of carbon dixoide (CO-2) and carbon monoxide (CO) as well as other molecules interacting with the atmosphere but not in the abundance these same gasses and elements are being produced in the yellow part of the flame. The blue part of the flame is where the fire is most efficient, like a fuel efficient automobile, if you will. In the yellow area, carbon, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are being produced in very large amounts as compared to the blue area. The next time you have an opportunity to watch a gas powered stove top, observe it on low and notice how little yellow there is. Now turn the stove up and notice how much more yellow there is. (Please make sure an adult is present!) This is due to the same thing that was going on with your candle - inefficient use of fuel and therefore high production of fire gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and water vapor as well. Recently, here in Kansas City we had the City's worse ice storm in history and 285,000 people were left without electricity, some for periods of a week or more. Many older people were using their gas stoves to help them keep warm as their furnaces would not work without the electricity the thermostat uses to send a signal to the furnace that the house needs heat. Due to the fact the homes were closed up and they were burning there stove tops to keep warm, many were overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning. This was due to the fact they were burning their stoves much too long in a poorly ventilated area. As the oxygen in the homes' atmospheres began to be used up, the stoves created more and more carbon monoxide (CO) and a snowball effect was produced. Two people lost their lives and many others required hospital treatment. Imagine the amount of yellow in some of those flames!! Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas which asphyxiates its victims by attaching itself to the hemoblobin in the blood 250 times more readily than does oxygen (O-2). Its symptoms are flu like with dizziness, nausea and splitting headaches being reported. Eventually it will kill if a person does not get out of the effected area and to a medical treatment facility. Sometimes brain damage can be sustained by those who are resuscitated too late in the poisoning process. you can access more information about fire at you local library in basic chemistry and physics books. Most of my information came from the Internation Fire Service Training Associations' book "Essentials of Firefighting" 4th ed. Thanks for the question. Keep up the curiosity about things scientific.
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