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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Most Flammable Substance

By August 24, 2012

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Chlorine fluoride is extraordinarily flammable! (Victor Jesus)I'm sure you can name a lot of chemicals that burn really, really well. There's hydrogen, gasoline, napalm... but these chemicals are small potatoes compared to the most flammable substance. This chemical, available as a liquid or gas, can set sand on fire, without a match. Supposedly the Nazis deemed it too dangerous to use. One story says a ton of this chemical once spilled, ignited, and burned through a foot of concrete and meter of gravel and sand before running out of juice. And yet... modern society uses this chemical. Can you name it and do you know why it is used?.. Learn more


August 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm
(1) J.O. Rogers says:

I agree that ClF3 is a powerful oxidizer, but I don’t think it should be labled “flammable”. In combustion, the oxidizer does not burn, the fuel does. Because ClF3 is so reactive, things that are normally too stable to burn will become the fuel in the combustion reaction. So I think it’s the fuel that should be called “flammable” not the oxidizer. Perhaps it would be better to say “Chorine trifluoride holds the dubious honor of being the most powerful oxidizer”.

January 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm
(2) adsf says:

silane is also flammable
it is the silicon equivalent to methane
silicon and carbon have the same number of valance electrons so they react similarly

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