Can wood be melted
Why does wood ignite directly while other materials melt first?
background : I boiled eggs (very difficult) with a plastic spatula which wasn't very good. When I put it on the edge of the pan, it started to melt. To keep cooking I reached for a wooden spoon that can touch the pan without melting.
This made me wonder about the behavior of the materials. For example, if I had left the plastic spatula it would have melted, but if I had raised the temperature enough it would actually have ignited and caught a flame. If I did the same with the wooden spoon, it wouldn't melt when I raised the temperature, but it would eventually ignite.
Why are certain materials (in this case plastic) melted and then ignited, but wood seems to just skip melting and ignite directly?
I'm just suspecting that wood somehow has a higher melting point than its ignition point, but I'm not even sure that makes any physical sense. A google search led me to a strange looking forum with disappointing responses. My understanding of thermodynamics is only mathematical, but I am conceptually blind in this area. Maybe someone can shed more light on the darkness.
When a substance undergoes a phase change such as melting, its chemical composition remains the same. However, when heat is added to the wood, the wood will oxidize before it can melt. Wood contains long-chain organic molecules that, when heated, break down into products such as charcoal, water, methanol and carbon dioxide. The physical structure of wood is destroyed and the resulting material cannot return to its original material. Due to the chemical, irreversible degradation of its components, wood does not melt. More details can be found at http://www.yalescientific.org/2010/05/everyday-qa-can-you-melt-a-wooden-log/
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