Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fire! Fire! Fire!

So, Driver headed out to the local Target and picked up a fire pit. I was initially skeptical of such citified camp fires. But, Lance With Two and his lovely wife proved me wrong. To christen the new firepit some friends were invited over from some biking and barbequing.

It got late and we got to contemplating the thermodynamics of said fire pit. Questions came up such as:

Why doesn’t the fire pit melt?

Why doesn’t the glass just turn to sand?

What about cans?

Well, Driver scoured the interlink and found out a few things. Copper melts at about 2000°F and a typical wood fire burns at about 1000°F. That answers the red hot fire question, but what about glass?

During my several minutes of research I was unable to find the specific melting temperature of a Summit Pale Ale bottle, but glass seems to melt around 1000°F. That’s right folks, less than a wood. But wait, why doesn’t the glass turn back to sand?
It’s metaphor time… Plastic beads can be melted into a glob but, you can’t melt that glob into small beads. I’d imagine that glass and sand/silica behaves the same way.

Aluminum has a melting point of 1220°F. Pretty close to the temperature of a fire, huh? The numbers on the temperature of burning wood were very hard to find and my guess is that they are also pretty variable; dependant on wood type, oxygen availability and other technical stuff.

From this data it can only be concluded that further study is needed. I must have more camp fires and find a way to measure the temperature.

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