< Search Requests Passing In the Night
Social Skills >

[Comments] (8) Metal Fire!: Sorry, but it's my Constitutional right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded weblog. And what cooler kind of fire to shout than metal fire? Magnesium, uranium, aluminum... they'll all go up in flames. Don't even get me started on nature's deathtrap, sodium.

I guess I knew about metal combustion before, because I'd seen the pretty spectrographic colors metal dust makes when thrown into a fire. And it's not surprising that for metals with nearly-empty outer electron shells, a fine line would divide oxidation from combustion. But never before had I envisioned metals catching fire on their own and wreaking havoc, or conceived of high-tech fires deemed worthy of their own fire class (D) and requiring special fire extinguishers to appease. Even though your aluminum foil isn't going to catch on fire, the idea has a certain cutting-edge cyberpunk allure.

Filed under:


Posted by pedro at Wed May 19 2004 01:08

Personally, I always liked potassium... it 'splodes like sodium... but even moreso, if I remember correctly.

Posted by Leonard at Wed May 19 2004 11:40

Makes sense, since it's right under sodium in the periodic table. Cesium and rubidium would be even worse.

Posted by pedro at Wed May 19 2004 14:01

god forbid

Posted by pedro at Wed May 19 2004 14:02

what's also fun about those metals (at least sodium and potassium) is that they are very soft -- you can cut them with a scalpel.

Posted by pedro at Wed May 19 2004 14:03

incendiary bombs often contain both aluminum and iron powder.

...maybe i've said too much.

Posted by Zack at Thu May 20 2004 02:26

Thermite! Aluminum and iron oxide in 1:1 molar ratio. Ignite with magnesium fuse.

Posted by pedro at Thu May 20 2004 03:35

...and what do you get?


Metalfire should have been the name of an 80s Christian metal band.

Posted by Nathaniel at Thu May 20 2004 23:18

Back in high school chemistry, our teacher showed a video that simply consisted of someone walking down the sodium column of the periodic table and dropping each in water, with progressively more impressive results. The last clip was just the metal dropping from tongs, a flash, and a work bench covered with water and shards of glass. Don't remember if that was Cesium or Francium, but it sure left an impression...

[Main] [Edit]

Unless otherwise noted, all content licensed by Leonard Richardson
under a Creative Commons License.