Q&A Why does a match go out when you blow on it?

QandA Posted By QandA, May 23, 2002 at 2:20 PM

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  1. QandA

    QandA
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    Question:

    I was wondering why when you blow a lite match it goes out and when you blow on a lite piece of firewood it begins to ignite more. For instance, when a camper is trying to start a camp fire he or she will blow on the log or brush to start the fire and keep it lite. How come a match, when blown on, goes out and does not begin to ignite again? Thank you for your help.



    Answer:

    In general it has to do with the amount of surface area of the particular fire and whether it is reflecting against other surfaces. For instance, two pieces of wood burning next to each other with a small space in between will burn much harder and better than one. Since the match is so small, it does not attain the critical mass needed to sustain itself. It's combustion is largely because of the phosphorus that ignites the match. Therefore, the additional oxygen that blowing on it creates only serves to dilute it's heat, lowering the temp and putting it out. On a hotter flame, the additional oxygen creates even more combustion.
     
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