When it comes to fireplace safety, there’s no such thing as being too careful. There’s at all times something you possibly can do to scale back risks, and at all times more to learn concerning the flammable properties of assorted things we’ve got in and across the household.
There’s a couple of things which may surprise with their flammability, like steel wool or WD-40. But is there anything we are able to take as a right with regards to fire safety? Surely there should be.
How about water? Could water actually be flammable?
No, water shouldn’t be flammable in any way. Water will turn to steam when it’s sufficiently heated and that’s all. However, it could make a hearth worse whether it is sprayed or dumped on a certain materials, and certain materials can react with water to begin a hearth.
Turns out that is certainly one of those things we take as a right that might need a surprising amount of exceptions.
Water cannot catch fire, that’s true, but there are things like oil that may float on the water while still aflame, and certain substances that come into contact with water will immediately ignite and even combust. Pretty crazy!
Turns on the market’s at all times something more to learn, and with regards to the fireplace hazard of water, I’ll inform you all about it in the remaining of this text…
Is Water Combustible?
No, water shouldn’t be flamable though steam can dangerously rupture vessels holding it- potentially with deadly effect!
Does Water Ignite at Any Temperature?
Contrary to some misconceptions, water doesn’t ignite, regardless of how high the temperature may rise. When subjected to heat, water undergoes a phase change somewhat than a chemical response.
It turns from liquid to gas, a process you might be already familiar with- boiling. Beyond the boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (or 100 Celsius for non-Freedom Unit users), water simply transforms into steam.
It doesn’t have the needed properties to catch fire or burn since it lacks the power to combust in any respect. Naturally and as you already know already, water thus often serves as an efficient firefighting agent as a substitute!
Does Water React with High Temperatures?
Yes, water indeed reacts to high temperatures, but not in the way in which that flamable materials do. When heated, water molecules gain energy and begin moving faster.
As the temperature reaches the boiling point, these molecules have enough energy to interrupt free from their liquid state and turn out to be a gas.
This transformation into steam is a physical response to the warmth as detailed within the previous section.
And know that regardless of how high the temperature increases, water won’t ever catch fire itself. It’s inherently non-flammable on account of its molecular structure.
Thus, heating water to any extreme is not going to make it flamable or cause any response except evaporating it into steam.
But Water is Made of Hydrogen and Oxygen. Both Burn, So Why Won’t Water?
Very clever! Water, or dihydrogen monoxide since we’re going all scientific, consists of two elements which can be indeed quite flammable on their very own: hydrogen and oxygen.
But it’s necessary to know that their properties as a compound are entirely different from what they’re as constituent elements…
In the case of water, it’s the chemical bonding between these elements that makes it non-flammable. When hydrogen and oxygen mix to form water, they undergo a chemical response that leads to the discharge of energy.
Once this response has occurred, the energy is spent, and it can’t be released again. Therefore, despite being composed of two inherently (very) flammable elements, water is utterly incapable of catching fire by itself.
Flammable Substances Can Float on Water, or Even Catch Fire While on the Water!
Now, simply because there may be an abundance of water around doesn’t mean that the chance of fireplace is totally off the table! Many substances, equivalent to oil and certain chemicals, don’t mix with water and can catch fire while floating on its surface!
These materials, often known as hydrophobic substances, repel water and remain separate from it. When exposed to a heat source or a spark, they’ll ignite and proceed to burn despite the fact that they’re surrounded by, touching, the water.
This is why we regularly hear oil and other chemical spills resulting in large-scale fires across the surface of bodies of water.
Knowing it is a clue, too: water is an excellent firefighting resource nevertheless it’s not a universal extinguisher for every kind of fires. I’ll talk more about that little issue in the next sections.
Can Water Ever Make a Fire Worse?
Yes, surprisingly enough, it could. Water can make sure sorts of fires worse. One of probably the most common and well-known examples is an oil fire.
Oil is less dense than water and doesn’t mix with it. So when water is sprayed, poured or dumped onto an oil fire, it immediately sinks under the oil (since it is denser) and just as quickly evaporates on account of the hot temperature.
This causes the flaming or boiling oil to dangerously splatter everywhere, and potentially spread the fireplace beyond its initial confines. Neither consequence is nice, obviously!
Another scenario where water could make a hearth worse is when it’s used on electrical fires. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and so using water to extinguish an electrical fire can result in your individual or another person’s electrocution.
When confronting a daunting accidental fire, keep your wits about you; spending a couple of seconds considering clearly isn’t wasted!
Is Water Reactive with Other Substances?
Yes, water can react with many other substances, and plenty of entail dangerous interactions!
Sodium is one such element; when sodium comes into contact with water, it reacts violently by generating intense heat and producing hydrogen gas- gas which is extremely flammable as we learned above!
The result’s immediate flames and sometimes dangerous combustion.
Other elements, equivalent to magnesium and lithium also react vigorously with water. Magnesium, as an example, reacts with water to provide magnesium hydroxide and hydrogen gas.
Similarly, lithium reacts with water to form lithium hydroxide and hydrogen. In each cases, the resulting hydrogen gas will almost actually ignite, resulting in a hearth.
These reactions underscore the actual fact water can, sometimes, cause hazardous chemical reactions and end in unintended fires.
To be clear, encountering any of those elements of their pure form outside of a lab or industrial setting is exceedingly rare, and so these problems are more theoretical exercises for many of us, nevertheless it is something to take note!
How Should You Deal with Water Exposed to Fire?
When coping with a hearth near any great quantity or volume of water, you’ll normally have a bonus. Water is an excellent extinguishing agent for many sorts of fires on account of its cooling and smothering effects.
In all but probably the most extraordinary sorts of fires (flammable metals, etc.) the indisputable fact that water can’t burn signifies that a water source in proximity to a hearth doesn’t pose any additional risk.
However, it’s necessary to notice that not all fires might be extinguished with water as explained above. If a flammable substance is floating on the water and burning, water alone won’t be effective until the fuel is expended.
In such cases, the fireplace will proceed to burn on the surface of the water. To tackle these fires, you’ll typically need a special sort of fire extinguisher, equivalent to a foam or dry chemical extinguisher.
These can smother the fireplace by making a barrier between the fuel and the oxygen directly, effectively cutting off the fireplace’s supply of each.