I was teaching about how to build a fire and one of the participants asked if some wood burns faster than others. I told him it had to do with wood density, but I’m not sure that is right.
You are correct , density has a lot to do with it. Also sap content and how seasoned the wood is.
But what about the density makes the wood burn faster or slower?
Combustibility of wood depends on many factors, and one of these definite factors has to do with wood density. The general rule is the thicker the wood, the harder it is to ignite entirely. Since you are teaching others to build a fire, I assume you are familiar with the basic components of building a fire: tinder (wood chips or shavings), kindling (twigs and sticks), and fuel (larger branches and logs). Heat penetration is mainly what matters when burning wood, though the website below explains it more in scientific terms. You start with things like leaves or wood shavings because heat from the match or ignition tool penetrates thin wood very quickly, thus starting your fire. Adding kindling keeps the fire going, and subsequently increases the heat being produced by the fire. Higher levels of heat increases the penetrating power of the fire, and can systematically penetrate thicker wood to sustain itself. This is why simply trying to light a log on fire will not work; the initial spark is not hot enough to cut through the outer layers of the wood to create a continuous burn.
Ok cool. my next question would be, what makes wood more or less dense?
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