# Throwing water into lava

While discussing magma in class with my students, I showed a video of a man throwing water onto molten, running lava. A large flame ensued. I realize that the water is being converted into steam and expanding extremely rapidly, but why does this create a small "explosion," if you will?

Surely none of the lava is being "atomized" into the air in small droplets, is it? But even so, they would not light aflame.

• youtube.com/watch?v=0XgpYXVN-Kk – Nilay Ghosh Jan 25 '17 at 3:47
• Are you certain it was a flame and not just lava bubbles with thin enough walls that it appeared more orange than red, thus giving the illusion of a flame? – airhuff Jan 25 '17 at 4:22
• I think linking the video you are referring to would be potentially helpful in answering this question. – ringo Jan 25 '17 at 4:45
• The first thing I think of, is this. – Nij Jan 25 '17 at 8:22
• The liquid looks like it is in a water bottle, but is it water? From that amount of liquid and flame I'd suspect alcohol or gasoline. The numb-numb was putting on a show not a science demonstration. – MaxW Jan 25 '17 at 17:29

This is a Steam explosion generally the flame is due to the hydrogen produced when water is superheated so thermal decomposed into $\ce{H2}$ and $\ce{O2}$.