# Why are wet things harder to ignite than dry things? [closed]

Specifically wood and paper and other hydrocarbons, but not necessarily excluding other things that burn. We all know wet wood is very hard to ignite. Wetness here refers to water.

But why is that the case? At the chemical level, what is it about water that makes it so effective at inhibiting the reaction of hydrocarbons with oxygen? I guess this also ties in to questions like "Why can't you strike an ordinary match underwater?"

• Many hydrocarbons are less dense than water, float on water's surface as seen so often and still may burn (e.g., after oil spills). But the evaporation of water is a significant heat sink, disfavouring continuation of combustion. And a «blanket» of finely dispersed water droplets may shield the flame from oxygen often required to continue combustion, too. – Buttonwood Sep 28 '19 at 23:20
• In general, you can make many things burn all right under conditions which intuitively seem impossible, you just have to find a better oxidizer or a way to improve kinetics. Even water itself burns all right in a flow of fluorine gas: $$\ce{2 H2O + 2 F2 -> 4 HF + O2}$$ – andselisk Sep 29 '19 at 2:22