could a fire with it's fuel consisting of mostly carbon like coal or wood use chlorine instead of oxygen. My thinking goes that when fire burns it sucks in oxygen and that bonds with carbon to make carbon dioxide. So... if you had chlorine instead of oxygen would the chlorine bond with the carbon and make Carbon tetrachloride instead of carbon dioxide? Would this work or am I missing something?

  • $\begingroup$ Consider that wood is mainly composed of cellulose, which is a polymer of glucose ($\ce{C6H12O6}$), so when it burns in the presence of oxygen, the reaction that occurs is basically the same as in aerobic respiration: $$\ce{C6H12O6 + 6O2 -> 6CO2 + 6H2O}$$ Check out this related question: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/96139/… $\endgroup$
    – URIZEN
    Dec 14 '19 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ It's «only transfer of electrons» ... said once a teacher of mine, and demonstated how sodium burnt in chlorine gas to form NaCl. $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Dec 16 '19 at 22:12

The combustion of a stream of hydrogen gas in contact with chlorine gas is a commercial path to high purity $\ce{HCl}$.

Fires will continue to burn in chlorine. Also, plastics containing $\ce{H}$ and $\ce{Cl}$, will burn in air with the formation of acidic hydrogen chloride.

Note: The combustion of a jet of methane in air, which is moved into a container filled with chlorine, will continue to burn:

$$\ce{CH4 + Cl2 -> CH3Cl + HCl}$$

However, the products now are corrosive, toxic and likely carcinogenic.

Further, similar to a gas mix of $\ce{H2}$ and $\ce{O2}$, a mix of $\ce{H2}$ (or $\ce{CH4}$) and $\ce{Cl2}$ will explode if ignited (strong/red light may also be an initiator absence the presence of any oxygen, which apparently terminates a radical chain reaction, which otherwise may produce a violent explosion).


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