Fun video: fire in ultra slo-mo

From The American Chemical Society


To fire up the grill or the gas stove, we often reach for a match. It turns out there’s a lot of chemistry going on to make those little wooden wonders work. The best way to find out about the chemistry of burning matches is to watch it in ultra-slow motion. This week, Reactions explains the science with special footage courtesy of UltraSlo.

54 thoughts on “Fun video: fire in ultra slo-mo

  1. V much off thread but does anyone have the facts about the Fiji cyclone which the BBC has pushed as the ‘worst in living memory’. Would that be since 1935 d’ya think?. There are tables somewhere I guess. I know we were lied to by the Been about cyclone Pam.

  2. Couldn’t have been a Redhead match if it was slightly moist outside in my experience – it wouldn’t have lit

  3. “However, EPA has established an RfC of 0.0002 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) for antimony trioxide ” … not as dangerous as the deadly CO2.

  4. If they mentioned that the combustion produced CO2 they could’ve gotten a government grant.

    P.S. Nice video, thanks for sharing. :-)

  5. Always loved the smell of the wooden match igniting in the first few seconds; reminds me of my dad.
    I know…but he died of WW@, not smoking.

  6. Take one box strike anywhere stick matches, break off heads, throw sticks away. Steal a 12 inch square piece of tin foil out of your moms kitchen (do not let her catch you)! Place matchheads in center of foil and CAREFULLY close and mold into shape of Allied hand grenade. Poke a dozen small holes in foil with stick, choose who will be Allies and who will be Krauts. Toss to lay down smoke screen! 1950 America did exist…and it was awesome.

    • We set off a few of those (slightly smaller that a whole box) in study hall when I was in high school in the ’50s. Use to generate a good sized smoke ring that slowly floating up toward the ceiling. The instructor went nuts. He never did find the perp.

    • Also, IIRC, taking several striker strips, and placing them in a pile on a non-porous surface, will leave behind an oily substance when burned. This substance would produce smoke when rubbed between the fingers.

  7. Where would we be if we could se faster, and electromagnetic fields, infrared etc. I think about that sometimes. Whar would society look like if we had the smell of dogs? Would we sniff each other instead of shaking hands?
    Hearing could be bettered, I had trouble understanding the speaker voice, strange accent, but thats because I am a foreigner.

    Anyway, better senses is a way to better understanding.

    • The narrator was LOUSY, Bjorn — it wasn’t you. She talked like a baby, had almost no diaphragm support, did not enunciate clearly, and her phrasing was mindless. It was distracting — “Why did they choose her for the narrator?” I kept thinking.

      GREAT video, though — fun! :)


      “If we could see…”

      (youtube — “Power of Nature”)

      If we could see, and with just a little knowledge of what we do not know yet about physics, math, and chemistry,

      we could see

      that modeling (or “forecasting” or what-EVER) the climate of the earth is just plain silly.

      We would see

      that only hubris says, “We know that human CO2 causes climate change.”


      We are in control….. LOL.

    • “Where would we be if we could see faster, and electromagnetic fields, infrared etc…”

      But we can björn. We can see it all. We can fly in the sky like birds – even hover. We can descend in the water like fish. We can orbit the globe like a moon. It’s not “where we would be” if we could do those things. We can do those things. The abilities to do so were gifts from our forebears. They are our’s to caretake and use wisely and build upon so as to hand succeeding generations more gifts. May the world remain large for us. May the world remain large for you, sir.

      Hi Janice! May the world remain large for you as well.

      • Hi, Tom! (waving and waving out my window facing east)

        Thanks for that reminder to get above my little cubicle and keep things in perspective. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers… .” Psalm 8:3. As long as I remember how great God is, my world can never be small. I — can — do — ANYTHING! :) And how loving…, thus, I need (I still AM, but NEED not be — my faith is very tiny) never be afraid of what the future will bring, for “surely, goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… .” You inspired me — thank you!



      • Marcus (lol): A message from two very serious, “We — are — serious!” German Shepherds:

        Marc! Marc! MARC –us! Listen to us! We KNOW. Dogs know a LOT.

        Okay. It is very simple. Just remember this:
        1. If we tell you there is a monster behind a bush, believe us! Don’t tell us, “That’s just a bird.” ATTACK!!
        2. When a motorcycle growls at us — LET US BITE IT!
        3. When we ask for treats, GIVE THEM TO US.
        4. Don’t make us get off the bed – we are tired.\
        5 When we joke around and hide things and pretend we can’t hear you and tear up your birthday cards and go all “crazy” running and jumping around, DON’T GET MAD — WE ARE JUST HAVING FUN, just join in, you can use one of our toys.
        6. Remember (if you forget all the rest, REMEMBER this): TOGETHER – we – should- al -ways – be – to – ge – ther. No leaving us behind when you go off to hunt in your car. No shutting doors until we get so worried that maybe you died and are never coming back. No telling us, “Off! Go lie down over there” when you are eating; it hurts our feelings.



        Riley and Davy
        Investigators First Class (also good at chasing balls and yelling)

        P.S. And when you meet us, don’t stand there stiff and silent – that is very ominous and we will growl at you because we think you are thinking hard about killing us.

        P.P.S. We will shake your hand. Janice will not let us sniff (don’tknowwhyshesureisapainsometimes).

      • From: Riley and Davy
        To: Marcus



        (thanks for the LOL acknowledge)

  8. This seems to be one of those stupid “safety matches”. So called because they mostly don’t work. Real matches have the red phosphorous in the match head and will strike on any rough surface.

  9. After all that, we didn’t even get to see it in ultra slow motion, as promised. Just an earnest narrator. Boo.

  10. I get three different formats when I use “Leave a Reply”; sometimes it uses an old blogname, I can do something and that changes to my blogname to my real name (but then I get a new message saying that that e-mail is being used by someone else and what is my password? And the third kind is totally blank and I have to fill in my email address and name. Does anyone else have the same problem?

    Ian M

    • Ian,

      I’m glad you said something. For about 3 days, now, for the first time in about 3 years of commenting on WUWT, the auto-fill no longer works in the Reply box. That is, I have to manually fill it in. NOT every time, though — I haven’t paid close enough attention, (sorry), but, I think it only requires that I do that when I go to a new thread. If I make several comments in a row on the same thread, auto-fill works.

      I’ll try to pay more attention… .

      Just before the auto-fill fail happened, I had re-booted my computer (just a power off — on reboot) and there was a dialogue box that asked me about approving “Add ons” — not sure what exactly they were referring to, I clicked on “No.” Maybe, WUWT’s auto-fill was one of those “add-ons” rejected by me — well, when I went via “Tools” –> “Internet Options” –> “Programs” –> “Manage Add-ons” I tried “enabling” some of the “disabled” ones and either it didn’t work (I re-booted after one enabling session and it made no difference) or that isn’t the problem.

      Also, when I type into the “Fill in your details below…” form (WUWT reply form), the page “bounces” slightly as I am typing! Very weird.

      Also, youtube is now demanding that I log in EVERY TIME (using Google account e mail and password) to access my “subscribed” channels. What a pain. Well, since I can still access youtube and can stlil reply on WUWT, the trouble is worth it, but, I do wonder if this is the way it has to be.

      Sorry I don’t have the answer!

      At least you know that you are not alone… BIG DEAL, huh? lol


      • There! My e mail address and name are auto-filled into the reply form! I didn’t go to another thread before commenting again on this one. A clue! :)

      • Hm. Ian? I think you and I both (I, at least) have a personal personal computer issue going on… :(

        I just went to check another site where I have an “account” that (like WUWT and youtube) only rarely required a log-in (I’ve accessed that site over and over and not had to log in, just as I have WUWT and yt).

        Sigh. I’ll have to bug my software engineer brother and BOY DOES HE HATE BEING BUGGED BY ME. I think I’ll just keep in logging in…

        Hope you solve YOUR mystery soon, Ian.

  11. Please DON’T stuff matchheads into an old CO2 cartridge! They have been known to blow up, and the thought of pieces of steel flying around does not appeal to me. I don’t know if anyone has been killed, but I think that some people have fewer fingers than they should, and maybe eyes.

    Ian M

  12. Years ago, when in metal work class in Ireland, I turned up a metal object that looked like a small dumbbell, with one end that was detachable, but snug fitting. So, as the crazy young lad I was, I stripped off the heads of Swan Vesta match sticks in to the cylinder end of my “device”. I then inserted the piston end of my device in to the cylinder. Now this hunk of metal weighed about 500grams, maybe more. But 5 or 6 Swan Vestas was enough, after dropping it head down on the ground, to send the other end 30ft in the air. Of course, I had no idea that would happen, so had me running for cover. Ahhhh….those were the days. Y’a didn’t ‘ave ‘elf n safety to force you to wear a crash helmet to walk under trees in autumn.

    • LOL. COOOL! :)

      I think that God gives boys (and young men) an extra-good guardian angel (or two or three, heh).

      And maybe, little girls, too… when my two younger brothers and I huddled over our overturned big wooden spool (for telephone wire) table inside our tiny shack of a “wax factory,” happily melting old crayons with candles, we had no idea of what awaited us…. . We were prepared for fire with a large bucket of water. So, when some of the crayons’ paper wrapping caught fire, we quickly doused it with water….. WHHHOOOOOOOOSH!!! On it’s first day of production, the wax factory shut down for good.

      And what was the first thing we did (after the fire was out by “smashing” it)? Looked around to be sure our parents had not seen. Then, after a few seconds of solemn silence…. looked at our faces and started laughing. That was a long time ago…. We still will say to each other, “Remember our little wax factory?”


      Correction (if I may, Patrick, on behalf of ALL ingenious, inquisitive, little minds): “crazy delightfully inventive young lad that I was.” Now, if you KNEW what would happen…. heh.

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