NCERT Class 8 Science Combustion And Flame

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We use different kinds of fuel for various purposes at home, in industry and for running automobiles. Can you name a few fuels used in our homes? Name a few fuels used in trade and industry. What fuels are used for running automobiles? Your list will contain fuels like cowdung, wood, coal, charcoal, petrol, diesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), etc. You are familiar with the burning of a candle. What is the difference between the burning of a candle and the burning of a fuel like coal? May be you were able to guess right: candle burns with a flame whereas coal does not. Similarly, you will find many other materials burning without a flame. Let us study the chemical process of burning and the types of flameproduced during this process.

6.1 What is Combustion?

Recall the activity of burning of magnesium ribbon performed in Class VII. We learnt that magnesium burns to form magnesium oxide and produces heat and light (Fig. 6.1). We can perform a similar activity with a piece of charcoal. Hold the piece with a pair of tongs and bring it near the flame of a candle or a Bunsen burner. What do you observe? We find that charcoal burns in air. We know that coal, too, burns in air producing carbon dioxide, heat and light.

A chemical process in which a substance reacts with oxygen to give off heat is called combustion. The substance that undergoes combustion is said to be combustible. It is also called a fuel. The fuel may be solid, liquid or gas. Sometimes, light is also given off during combustion, either as a flame or as a glow. In the reactions mentioned above magnesium and charcoal are combustible substances.

We find that a combustible substance cannot catch fire or burn as long as its temperature is lower than its ignition temperature. Have you ever seen cooking oil catching fire when a frying pan is kept for long on a burning stove? Kerosene oil and wood do not catch fire on their own at room temperature. But, if kerosene oil is heated a little, it will catches fire. But if wood is heated a little, it would still not catch fire. Does  it mean that ignition temperature of kerosene oil is lower than that of wood? Does it mean that we need to takespecial care in storing kerosene oil? The following activity shows that it is essential for a substance to reach ignition temperature to burn.

6.2 How do We Control Fire?

You must have seen or heard of fire breaking out in homes, shops and factories. If you have seen such an accident, write a short description in your note book. Also, share the experience with your classmates Does your city/town have a fire brigade station? When a fire brigade arrives, what does it do? It pours water on the fire (Fig. 6.6). Water cools the combustible material so that its temperature i  brought below its ignition temperature. This prevents the fire from spreading. Water vapours also surround the combustible material, helping in cutting off the supply of air. So, the fire is extinguished.

You have learnt that there are three essential requirements for producing fire. Can you list these requirements These are: fuel, air (to supply oxygen) and heat (to raise the temperature of the fuel beyond the ignition temperature). Fire can be controlled by removing one or more of these requirements. The job of a fire extinguisher is to cut off the supply of air, or to bring down the temperature of the fuel, or both. Notice that the fuel in most cases cannot be eliminated. If, for instance, a building catches fire, the whole building is the fuel.

6.3 Types of Combustion

Bring a burning matchstick or a gas lighter near a gas stove in the kitchen. Turn on the knob of the gas stove. What do you observe?

6.4 Flame

Observe an LPG flame. Can you tell the colour of the flame. What is the colour of a candle flame? Recall your experience of burning a magnesium ribbon in Class VII. If you do not have experience of burning the remaining items in Table 6.2 you can do that now.Record your observations and mention whether on burning the material forms a flame or not.


1. List conditions under which combustion can take place.

2. Fill in the blanks:

(a) Burning of wood and coal causes of air.

(b) A liquid fuel, used in homes is .

(c) Fuel must be heated to its before it starts burning.

(d) Fire produced by oil cannot be controlled by .

3. Explain how the use of CNG in automobiles has reduced pollution in our cities.

4. Compare LPG and wood as fuels.

5. Give reasons:

(a) Water is not used to control fires involving electrical equipment.

(b) LPG is a better domestic fuel than wood.

(c) Paper by itself catches fire easily whereas a piece of paper wrapped around an aluminium pipe does not.

6. Make a labelled diagram of a candle flame.

7. Name the unit in which the calorific value of a fuel is expressed.

8. Explain how CO2 is able to control fires.

9. It is difficult to burn a heap of green leaves but dry leaves catch fire easily. Explain.

10. Which zone of a flame does a goldsmith use for melting gold and silver and why?

11. In an experiment 4.5 kg of a fuel was completely burnt. The heat produced was measured to be 180,000 kJ. Calculate the calorific value of the fuel.

12. Can the process of rusting be called combustion? Discuss.

13. Abida and Ramesh were doing an experiment in which water was to be heated in a beaker. Abida kept the beaker near the wick in the yellow part of the candle flame. Ramesh kept the beaker in the outermost part of the flame. Whose water will get heated in a shorter time?

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