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Can wood melt?

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Fortunately you can count on those floorboards not turning to liquid beneath your feet.

Asked by: Charlie Smith, via email

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No. Wood is mostly cellulose, lignin and water. If you heat wood, the water boils away first and then the lignin and cellulose (both long-chain organic molecules) will react with oxygen and burn.

Even in a vacuum, these molecular chains are too long and tangled to wiggle free into the liquid phase before they reach temperatures high enough to break their bonds. Instead they break down into smaller substances, like methane and organic compounds containing carbon and hydrogen.


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Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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