Burning is a high-temperature exothermic redox chemical process that results in oxidized, frequently gaseous products in a mixture known as smoke. The reactants are a fuel (the reductant) and an oxidant, typically atmospheric oxygen. Since a flame only appears when things undergoing combustion evaporate, burning does not always result in fire, but when it does, a flame is a distinctive sign of the event. The heat from a flame may be enough energy to make the reaction self-sustaining, even though the activation energy must be overcome to commence burning (such as when using a lighted match to start a fire).

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Environmental problems

These oxides react with water and oxygen in the air to form nitric acid and sulfuric acid, which then fall as “acid rain” back to Earth’s surface. Acid deposition damages trees and affects aquatic life. The productivity of the ecosystem and farms is decreased as a result of the creation of certain nutrients that are less readily available to plants, such as calcium and phosphorus. The fact that nitrogen oxides, along with hydrocarbon pollutants, contribute to the creation of ground level ozone, a significant component of smog, is another issue related to them.

Human health problems

Carbon monoxide inhalation results in nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Humans lose consciousness or pass away if carbon monoxide concentrations are high enough. Heart disease risk is strongly associated with prolonged exposure to moderate and high amounts of carbon monoxide. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning survivors may experience long-term health issues.  In the lungs, carbon monoxide from the air interacts with haemoglobin in people’s red blood cells. As a result, red blood cells would be less able to transport oxygen throughout the body.


The slow, low-temperature, flameless combustion process known as smoldering is maintained by the heat produced when oxygen directly interacts with a condensed-phase fuel’s surface. Typically, the combustion process is incomplete. Coal, cellulose, wood, cotton, tobacco, peat, muck, humus, synthetic foams, charring polymers (including polyurethane foam), and dust are examples of solid substances that might support a smoldering reaction. Examples of smoldering phenomena include the ongoing burning of biomass behind the flame fronts of wildfires and the starting of home fires on upholstered furniture by weak heat sources (such as a cigarette or a shorted cable).


Large volumes of heat and light energy are generated during the burning process, often known as a fire, which frequently produces a flame. Internal combustion engines and thermobaric weaponry both employ this as a component. Although this is false for an internal combustion engine, such burning is usually referred to as a rapid combustion. (Contested – Discuss) A regulated quick burn is the standard operating procedure for internal combustion engines. Detonation occurs when the fuel-air combination in an internal combustion engine ignites.


A kind of burning known as spontaneous burning is characterized by self-heating (increase in temperature brought on by exothermic internal processes), thermal runaway (self-heating that quickly escalates to high temperatures), and then ignite. Phosphorus, for instance, self-ignites at ambient temperature without the use of heat. Bacterial decomposition of organic materials can produce heat that is hot enough to burn.