How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 992

How hot is a match when it is ignited? Is the initial point of combustion hotter than when it is just burning? — TB, Excelsior, MN
You can usually judge the temperature of a hot object by its color—the brighter and whiter the light, the hotter the object. A candle flame has a temperature of roughly 1700° C while an incandescent light bulb has a temperature of about 2500° C. To my eye, a struck match briefly becomes brighter and whiter than a candle flame, so I would guess that its peak temperature is somewhere in the mid 2000° C range. Once the chemicals in the head have been used up, the flame temperature drops to about 1700° C.

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