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Spontaneous Combustion

This photograph shows the bright pink flame that is produced when you mix potassium chloride with sugar and sulphuric acid.

This is a spontaneous combustion reaction because, unlike other combustion reactions such as burning wood or paper, this reaction doesn't need a spark to start it.

All reactions require some energy to break the first chemical bonds and get them started. In spontaneous combustion reactions this activation energy is very low and may be provided by mixing the chemicals or heat from the surrounding air. The reaction between the first molecules releases enough energy to set off further reactions. The energy given off in these reactions heats up the chemicals and they start to burn.

It is very unlikely spontaneous combustion of a person has ever occurred because the activation energy required to burn a person is very high.


Spontaneous combustion
magnifySpontaneous combustion
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