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Ignition Temperature

It is defined as the minimum kindling temperature required for any substance to catch fire. This temperature varies from substance to substance.


   Example :  
  • A match stick can not burn on its own unless it rubbed on the hard surface.
  • A piece of paper can not burn on its own unless it is lighted with a match stick.
  • A log wood can not burn on its own unless it is lighted with kerosene oil to start the fire. 
  • Another natural example of ignition temperature is forest fire.


Forest Fire

During hot summer due to sun’s heat dry grass catches fire on its own, this in turn spreads to trees and results in forest fire. Thus all combustible substances has its own ignition temperature and it is necessary that the substance has to be heated to its ignition temperature in order to catch fire.

Understand the Meaning of Ignition Temperature

Activity to Understand the Meaning of Ignition Temperature :

Take two sheets of paper and make it in the form of cups by folding it in the shape of a cone .Take 50 ml of water in one of the paper cups. Heat both the paper cups separately in a candle flame and observe the change. In the paper cup containing water, heat is transferred from the paper cup to water thus making water to boil where as in the paper cup with out water paper cup catches fire. In the first instant the paper cup has not attained its ignition temperature as it contains water, where as in the second instant it attains ignition temperature and starts catching fire.

Explanation on how the match stick is protected from catching fire: The modern match stick developed two hundred years ago a mixture of antimony tri sulphide,

Potassium chlorate and white phosphorus with some glue and starch was applied on the head of a match made of suitable wood. When struck against a rough surface, white phosphorus got ignited due to the heat of friction. This started the combustion of the match. However, as white phosphorus proved to be dangerous both for the workers involved in the manufacturing of matches and for the users. These days though the head of the safety match contains only antimony tri sulphide and potassium chlorate. The rubbing surface has powdered glass and a little red phosphorus. When the match is struck against the rubbing surface, some red phosphorus gets converted into white phosphorus. This immediately reacts with potassium chlorate in the matchstick head to produce enough heat to ignite antimony tri sulphide and start the combustion.

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