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Both PE and cotton produce CO2, but they distinctly have different smells while being burnt (Burning PE has smell of candle wax, while burning cotton’s smell is like burning leaves). Wool produces CO2 and N2 which is odorless, but yet has smell of hair burnt. Moreover, they also differ in burning process (PE and wool burns slowly, while cotton burns rapidly). So why there are such differences when their products are similar?

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    $\begingroup$ The reason is simple: incomplete combustion. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Nov 8 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ I don’t think about this case. Thanks for your quick reply! $\endgroup$ – Valerie Nov 8 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Valerie, why are you rejecting a valid answer?? $\endgroup$ – DrMoishe Pippik Nov 8 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ I mean I have not thought about this case before so now I know it, it doesn’t mean I reject it. Maybe my words are not accurate, so now I fix it. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Valerie Nov 9 at 1:01
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What are your burning conditions? PE fibers are indeed only carbon and hydrogen. But don't forget that wool is a protein (main component keratin) fiber and does not only contain carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, but also sulpher. That will also have an influence on your smell ;) Whereas cotton is pure cellulose, if you do not have any waxes remaining.

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  • $\begingroup$ They are burnt in air without any specific condition. $\endgroup$ – Valerie Nov 9 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ Cotton is taken from a dyed cotton towel, so it may affect a bit. $\endgroup$ – Valerie Nov 9 at 1:33

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