Excuse me if the question is silly, I have very little knowledge of chemistry. We can find oxygen in many places in the universe, but all the combustibles we use to light fire seems to be organic: carbon, oil, wood, alcohol... so if that is true, we could only find fire on Earth, as long as we don´t find organic materials in other planets.

Another way of asking the same question could be: can we light a fire without organic material?

Note that I mean fire as a result of a combustion. The Sun would be a non-valid example, as it works by fusion.

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    $\begingroup$ I take it you've never had the "pleasure" of dealing with a metal fire (such as magnesium). I strongly recommend against doing so, but there is not doubt that there is "fire" going on. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 14, 2015 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ Organic materials like methane exist in large quantities on other planets. Methane can burn in the presence of oxygen. $\endgroup$
    – ron
    Apr 14, 2015 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ Al, Fe, Ti all burn nicely once started and are almost impossible to putout. Go to Navy damage control school to find out what can happen on a ship if a fire starts. Just off hand were we to land on Venus with its high T and P of CO2 It would not be a good idea to have Mg, Al, or Ti etc. around $\endgroup$
    – jimchmst
    Jun 4, 2022 at 6:00

1 Answer 1


Many non-organic substances burn. For example:

  • Reactive metals such as potassium burn when exposed to oxygen. (Thanks to @Jon Custer in his comment)

  • Non metal elements such as carbon, sulphur and phosphorous also burn in oxygen when heated.

So yes fire is definitely possible outside earth.

Additionally simple organic compounds such as methane are known to exist in large quantities on other bodies such as Titan, a moon of Saturn, which has a whole 'hydrological' cycle based around methane, and to a lesser extent ethane and heavier hydrocarbons, with a methane atmosphere and lakes of methane on the surface. (Thanks to @ron in his comment)

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    $\begingroup$ This is theoretically true, but there's no free oxygen or fluorine on Titan... $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Apr 14, 2015 at 14:54

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