How — and Why — Steel Wool Burns

Published October 26, 2017


Live Science interviews UB chemist Jason Benedict in a story titled, “Here's How Steel Wool Burns (and Why It Looks Like the Death of Krypton).” The story explains that steel wool burns because it has lots of thin strands holding atoms that come into contact with oxygen in the air, making it more difficult for heat to dissipate. In contrast, a block of iron like a utensil doesn't catch fire because the surface area is small relative to the volume, Benedict tells LiveScience. In a block of iron, the heat gets dissipated to many other iron atoms. Benedict is an associate professor of chemistry.

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