We explain everything about fire, how it is produced and the components it contains. Also, what are its characteristics and what is it used for.

Fire is a set of incandescent gases that give off energy.

What is fire?

It is called fire, light or candle to a set of incandescent particles of combustible matter. Due to a violent oxidation chemical reaction (known as combustion), these particles give off caloric energy (heat) and light energy (light) for a certain time.

That is to say, the fire it is a type of plasma, or a set of incandescent gases that give off energy. This means that they are part of an exothermic reaction in which certain matter is converted into another. For example, when wood is burned it turns into ash, COtwo and other material waste.

During this process you can see the fire in the form of flames, that is, on the part that emits visible light. The smoke is the same physical particles, but no longer capable of continuing to emit light.

See also: Hydrocarbons

How was the fire controlled?

The fire exists in nature since the beginning of the world.

It is estimated that the first encounters of our species with it were due to lightning, fires and volcanoesor other natural combustion phenomena.

When the human being learned to control it marked an important event that marks the beginning of civilization.

Using it, he was able to illuminate his nights and transform the elements around him.

The first evidence of human use of fire They date from 1.42 million years ago, in different archaeological sites in East Africa. The presence of clay vessels suggests the ability to heat the materials to temperatures of at least 400 °C to harden them.

There is also enough evidence to assume that Homo erectus, 1.7 million years ago, already understood the usefulness of fire. However, he would not have been an expert in reproducing it yet.

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How is the fire produced?

Combustible matter is that which can be subjected to combustion processes.

Fire can occur as consequence of many everyday events. Some are accidental, such as lightning strikes combustible material or a gas pipe explodes, while others are deliberate, such as lighting a match or match.

Whatever the context in which it occurs, fire requires three elements in adequate quantities interacting in a chain reaction:

  • Gas. Combustible matter is that which can be subjected to combustion processes, that is, violent and rapid oxidation. These substances can appear in liquid, solid or gaseous states and be more or less flammable, that is, react more or less explosively to heat and oxygen.
  • oxidising There is no fire in a vacuum, since a source of oxygen is necessary for combustion to occur. In this case, oxygen acts as an oxidizer: an element or substance that promotes the combustion of others.
  • Heat. For combustion to occur, a minimum of activation energy is needed, which triggers the reaction of the fuel and oxidizer, generating the fire. Such heat energy can come from the flames of a smaller fire, from certain chemical reactions, from sparks from an electrical source, or it can even be the force of friction (as occurs with matches).

In short, for the fire to be produced and maintained, there must be an initial source of heat that makes a portion of the fuel and oxidizer react, generating fire that in turn will make another portion of them react and so on until one of the two inputs is exhausted.

Fire Components

Fire can be differentiated into components such as:

  • flames or flames The most visible part of the fire, since it emits light in a certain spectrum, depending on the substances that burn: blue, yellow, red, white… each one also with a certain temperature range.
  • Smoke. The “burnt” particles, that is, those that can no longer be part of the combustion reaction and that are part of the by-product of the fire. They are usually lighter than air and therefore ascend. Depending on the nature of the burning materials, their color may vary: white, black or gray. Its inhalation is a source of health risks.
  • gases. Another by-product of the combustion of the base elements are gases, often colorless and toxic, which are forms of matter that escape along with the smoke. Depending on the nature of the burned elements, the gases can be more or less harmful.
  • Heat. Fire generates light and also heat energy, since its basic reaction is exothermic, that is, it produces excess energy that must be released into the environment. Said excess affects the matter around it, being able to spread the fire or transform it, as it happens with food when we cook.
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types of fire

Materials that produce type A fire leave embers when burned.

Fire is generally classified according to the nature of the combustible substance:

  • Type A (solid) fires. Fires produced by the burning of flammable materials that form embers, generally of organic origin such as wood, cloth, paper and certain types of plastic.
  • Type B fires (liquid). They are produced by the combustion of flammable liquids such as oil, gasoline, alcohol, certain paints, certain solvents, etc.
  • Type C fires (gases). Product of flammable and generally explosive gases, such as methane, natural gas, hydrogen, propane, etc.
  • Type D fires (metals). Certain metallic elements react violently when mixed with water or other substances, such as lithium, sodium, magnesium or potassium.
  • Type E fires (electricity). Electricity can be the trigger for fires when short circuits or overheating occur due to excessive or improper operation of the wiring or resistance.
  • Type F fires (fats and oils). Common in the kitchen, these types of flammable materials are for controlled use for cooking food, but require a separate category since they do not respond to the same type of CO extinguishers.two or ABC powder as normally occurs.

Physical properties of fire

The gas does not fit well into any description of the physical state of matter. At best, it can be said to be a form of plasma, that is, electrically charged gas, such as can be found inside stars or in certain halogen lamps.

The fire usually understood as pure heat energy, although we can see their flames because they emit light. More than a state of combustible matter, fire is perceptible evidence of said chemical reaction.

It can spread or it can be extinguished, but cannot remain unchanged. This is because all the matter that catches fire is transforming rapidly and violently.

How is fire used?

The fire can be used for cooking, as in pizza ovens.

The uses that we give to fire in human life are infinite, generally linked to its ability to transform matter, or its ability to illuminate the environment. Thus, we can say that fire is used to:

  • Heating environments, such as fireplaces.
  • Illuminate environments, such as campfires.
  • Cook food, as it happens when cooking.
  • Destroy unwanted stuff, as is often done with certain garbage.
  • Unleash controlled combustion reactions, like inside engines.
  • Trigger or catalyze chemical reactions in laboratories.
  • Change the state of aggregation matter: solid, liquid, gaseous.
  • Scare away unwanted animals.
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Why is fire important?

The domain of fire is a staple of our civilization. It is involved in practically all human industries, as one of the main forces of transformation of matter that we know of.

cooking food, protection against cold and wild animalsas well as the lighting of dark environments are just the basic benefits that fire has provided us since ancient times.

What are the risks of fire?

Uncontrolled fire can cause damage to property, animals and individuals.

Fire is a powerful and fundamental tool of humanity but also a constant danger. The reactions it unleashes can easily get out of hand. if the necessary precautions are not taken.

When it’s not controlled, can cause damage to property, animals and individuals, since organic matter is susceptible to combustion. Fire injuries are difficult to heal and often leave scars or permanent deformities, as well as being extremely painful and leaving severe emotional trauma.

fire prevention

smoke detector - fire
Smoke detectors allow you to put out the fire quickly.

Fires are catastrophes with a very high human, ecological and/or material cost, which can often be avoided. For this, certain precautions are usually recommended:

  • Keep flammable material tidy and safe.
  • Use fire responsibly.
  • Do not throw glass or metal waste into the woods that can serve as a magnifying glass and concentrate the sun’s rays to start a flame.
  • Take the necessary precautions to stop fires: extinguishers in key places, fire alarms, etc.

fire symbology

Fire has been in our imagination and culture forever. formerly formed one of the four traditional elements in which we divided nature (air, earth, water, fire) and was considered one of its fundamental forces. In some cultures it is considered a secret and a way of communicating with the gods.

It is associated with feelings of anger, passion, pain, or lust, all those that are difficult to control and that can be very harmful. It is also associated with purity, in the sense that it “cleans” everything in its path.


  • “Fire” on Wikipedia.
  • “What is fire? Characteristics and protection against fires” in Mar-Pic SRL.
  • “Fire classes” in Emergencies Learner.
  • “Chemistry of fire” in Basic Manual of Attention of the Junta de Andalucía.
  • “Elements of Fire” at Smokey Bear.
  • “Fire (combustion)”in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  • “What is fire?” at Science Learning Hub.

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