We talked about it in our chemistry class but we couldn't get to a conclusion, any help?

  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried to find it on google or some books? If yes kindly show your research efforts :) $\endgroup$ – Freddy May 8 '15 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ 1. Is wood a pure chemical, which might have a single melting point, or a mixture of chemicals with different melting points? 2. Do you understand the difference between decomposition and melting? Look them up. $\endgroup$ – DrMoishe Pippik May 8 '15 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @DrMoishe Pippik Decomposition is one thing breaking up into several things by chemical means, melting is a solid changing form into a liquid by physical means. $\endgroup$ – Cyberson May 9 '15 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ Lots of things can't be melted. Try to melt diamond (changes allotropic form) or limestone (decomposes). $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi Nov 26 '17 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ I remember in some of first moderately serious science lessons, I got a data book with melting and boiling points of various substances. However, apart from water, not many were easily available at home. The things at home were not in the book. I remember wondering what the melting point of curtain was. It was hard to imagine liquid curtain and even harder to imagine it freezing back to its original form. $\endgroup$ – badjohn Feb 9 at 9:01

NO, we can't melt wood!

From primary level we have learned that solid melts to liquid at certain temperature and on increasing the temperature further it change into gaseous. But that is not the case always.

The problem with melting wood revolves around what combustion is, and what temperature the combustion of wood happens at. Combustion, also known as burning, is simply a chemical reaction that takes place where the combustible material (in this case wood) in the presence of an oxidizer (usually the air around the fire) changes its chemical composition and decomposes the material into other chemicals. The process is one that’s exothermic. As such, light and heat can be released.

Wood is mostly made up of things like cellulose, lignin, and water. As wood combusts, it’s broken down into products like charcoal, water, methanol, and carbon dioxide. Unlike water turning back into ice, if you cooled down the resulting products of burning wood, it obviously does not change back to its original composition.

All materials that combust will have a natural temperature at which the process will begin taking place. The higher the temperature, the quicker the process becomes (usually). If that temperature is lower than the temperature at which the material will melt, that material will never (naturally) melt because it just turns into other chemicals.

As for wood, it will begin a process known as pyrolysis at temperatures around 500-600 degrees Fahrenheit. Pyrolysis is also an exothermic reaction that tends to be self sustaining. At these temperatures, wood will begin giving off up to 100 chemicals, including methane and methanol (the same stuff they put as additives in gasoline), that will begin to burn. Once those chemicals begin burning, they will increase the temperature and the remaining char (the burned black bits present after the fire goes out) left behind will begin to further decompose, things like calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Source: todayifoundout

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    $\begingroup$ Would it be possible to do it in an oxygen free space? Like a chamber filled with CO2? $\endgroup$ – Cyberson May 8 '15 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ Wood itself is not an oxygen free environment. The carbohydrates and proteins in wood contain oxygen atoms. At sufficient temperatures, the compounds can break down without extra oxygen. It's not the same as burning, because there wouldn't be enough oxygen, but it wouldn't be liquid wood. $\endgroup$ – user137 May 8 '15 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrolysis_oil $\endgroup$ – Curt F. May 8 '15 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyberson Combustion is not possible without oxygen till what I know. Though I don't know if there is any new technique available. $\endgroup$ – Freddy May 9 '15 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ @user137 yes it may contain oxygen atoms, but not diatomic oxygen molecules, AKA, what's required for fire. And thanks to the H2O vs H+2O lab we did in school, I now know that being a molecule vs an atom changes properties. $\endgroup$ – Cyberson May 9 '15 at 6:46

Theoretically, it may be possible, but hasn't been proven.

According to this article, wood cannot even be melted in a vacuum, but may be able to melt under high pressure.


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