Micro Life Zone
Asked by gannaz to DJ, Mia, Mick on 5 Sep 2013.
Keywords: hydrogen, oxygen, water
I’m sure DJ and Mick will get onto this for you!
I had to go look up an answer because chemistry outside of the body isn’t my strong area of science:
“Water is what is known as a compound; that is, a completely different substance made out of different base elements. Compounds often have strange behaviours that their elements do not normally have. For instance, hydrogen sulfide is made of hydrogen gas (an odorless explosive gas) and sulfur (an odorless yellow metal), but in combination it produces something which stinks of rotten eggs!
For water to contribute to a fire, it would have to be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen. This occurs only during electrolysis. This is, however, one of the reasons why you should not throw water onto an electrical fire!”
Thanks for letting me learn with you! 🙂
Amazing question. It’s the way elements combine into molecules that changes their properties. So hydrogen gas, which is two atoms of hydrogen joined together, is flammable, whereas water, which is two atoms of hydrogen attached to an oxygen, is completely different (it’s not like oxygen and hydrogen gases as a mixture, water is a separate molecule where those two things have reacted to form new bonds). Add another oxygen to that, so you have two atoms of hydrogen and two atoms of oxygen gives hydrogen peroxide, which is something different again (can be used as an antiseptic). Isn’t chemistry cool?
@DJ… an antiseptic household cleaner and explosive ingredient. It all about the oxygen.
Essentially mia and DJ are right. This world is possible because of the way we can combine our atoms into molecules. Most atoms dont appear by themselves, they’ll either combine with themselves to form metals or gases like hydrogen and oxygen we breathe, or into very complex arangements like DNA.
So a hydrogen atom by itself wont start or feed a fire. It needs to be joined to another hydrogen atom. Then in the fire along comes two oxygen atoms that you forgot to breathe in, and they burn together forming H2O.
The bonds that hold the two hydrogen atoms to the oxygen are very stong. The oxygen likes to hold onto atoms really tight. To break them apart again, you would have to use something like electricity. Not even fire will rip them apart, so the key to stopping a fire is to block it from getting any more O2. Water play the role of both smothering it from oxygen, but also cooling down so that to stay on fire is harder and harder. Using a fire extinguisher with CO2 just gets rid of all the O2.
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2017