Debunking Salt Flammability Myths

debunking salt flammability myths

Salt is not debunking salt flammability myths and does not burn, although it can transform when exposed to heat. Students can observe how salt reacts to open flames, exploring color changes in the flame and learning about how fire interacts with oxygen.

The most common table salt, also known as sodium chloride, is a non-flammable compound with a very high melting point (over 800 degrees Celsius). It would take an extremely hot fire source to break apart the chemical bond that connects positively charged sodium and negatively charged chlorine ions. This kind of intense heat is not available in everyday life or chemistry experiments.

Salt’s Unflinching Stand Against Fire: Debunking Flammability Myths

In fact, if you pile a large amount of salt on top of a fire, it will smother the flame, cutting off one of the three main things needed for combustion: heat, fuel, and oxygen. This is why salt is an important part of fire safety and is used to prevent and extinguish fires.

Teachers often use a popular experiment called the rainbow-flame demo to show students how chemicals change colors in different flames. When sodium chloride is heated, it glows yellow because the electrons jump in and out of their ground state. Other salts will glow in different colors, depending on the element it contains: Lithium gives a reddish-orange color; magnesium and potassium give a bright blue or violet; and aluminum creates a pink flame. However, this demonstration can be dangerous and is not recommended unless you have an appropriate and controlled heat source.

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