|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Thanks for your question, Rodney. There are several reasons why different types of paper could burn faster than others. One reason is the amount of moisture in the paper. A sheet of paper with more moisture will take more time to burn because the water must evaporate before the paper will burn. The next reason has to do with the pulping process (pulping is the process where wood chips are turned into pulp that is used to make paper). One of the main goals of pulping is to remove lignin from the pulp (lignin causes newspaper to turn yellow and reduces the strength of the paper). The amount of lignin remaining in the paper affects how fast it will burn. There are many substances added to paper to help with certain properties. For example, clay and calcium carbonate are added to change the brightness and opacity of the paper. These additives will also change the combustion properties of the paper. Finally, some paper is treated with chemicals to retard the burning. These types of paper are used in many building applications such as drywall and insulation backing.
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