Graphite is a very common substance. It comprises many items in one’s household. For this reason, it is important to understand what temperature it burns at.
Understanding which items are flammable and at what temperatures they burn will be useful in the long run. It can inform people if they are in any danger in or around specific rooms or items.
Let’s check out what temperature this substance burns at.
While it is very common, some people aren’t quite sure what this substance is. And that is absolutely alright. We’re here to talk about what this substance is in the first place.
What Is It?
Interestingly enough, the etymology of this substance’s name comes from the Greek word “graphene”. This term means “to write” or something similar to writing. This is largely because this substance is used for this purpose. It is the writing end of a pencil. However, we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves.
In its base form, graphite – otherwise known as black lead – is a very affordable and natural form of crystallised carbon that has many unusual or unique properties.
For instance, it is lightweight, resistant to heat, and has a low specific gravity among others. This allows it to be used for a variety of items.
How Is It Made?
This has two types. The first is the naturally occurring type. It occurs when carbon is heated at very high temperatures and then also subjected to high pressure.
For temperature, the carbon needs to be subjected to 750 degrees Celsius. For pressure, the range is from 75,000 per square inch.
This type is usually found within igneous rocks or magma that has cooled down and crystallised.
At the same time, this natural process can be replicated by man. This allows people to create their own artificial type of graphite.
The process is largely the same. The only difference is the material it uses which are coal tar pitch and calcined petroleum coke. Both of these materials are made from carbon and can be transformed into this substance.
Why Is It Important?
In truth, this crystallised form of carbon has been around for many years. As such, people have continued to find many great uses for it.
For instance, the creation of the pencil – an object that has this crystallised substance at the end – largely improved the world as we know it. Since then, people could write down and store their ideas and stories. Knowledge could be passed down and built upon.
The importance of graphite does not stop there though. Some people are calling it one of the most important minerals.
What Is It Used For?
As just mentioned, this substance is used for the tips of the pencils we write with. However, there are many more uses for this substance.
First up, we have batteries that are in most of the portable technological innovations we use today. Our substance is used to create anodes that act as a host for the negative electrode.
The many characteristics, such as its affordability, low weight, and conductivity improve the performance of batteries.
When the substance transforms into graphene, it introduces improvements like faster charging, bigger battery capacity, and a faster device overall just to name a few.
It is also used in solar cells, other fuel cells, and even nuclear reactors.
When the brakes are stepped on when driving, it employs friction to slow down. However, if this friction increases, it can destroy several components utilised in the car brakes’ structure. This is where our carbon substance comes in.
The conductivity and its ability to lubricate in very hot temperatures make this substance a must-use in brake systems today. They also make driving and braking quieter overall, while also promoting a smoother transition when the brakes are applied.
The many moving parts in a machine to stay smooth and consistently moving. This is why lubricants are used. However, wet lubricants can’t be used for all machines. Instead, dry lubricants are used which are made from black lead.
Just like the brakes in a car, the slippery characteristic helps machines move smoothly. The good thing is that even when conditions are very dry, it still stays buttery smooth.
At the same time, the fact that this type of lead is highly resistant to hot temperatures means that it will retain its structure even in high heat. Wet lubricants do not have this ability.
Finally, we have touch screens. People may be surprised to find that this type of lead is used for the screens that have recently been used in many of our devices today.
Black lead uses its ability to be moulded into glass-like transparency, as well as its conductivity, to help make touch screens.
Does It Burn?
Now that we know a little bit about this lead substance, we can finally address the question regarding the temperature it burns at.
All throughout the article, it has been mentioned that this substance is highly resistant to heat. Will it even burn at all?
Despite its resistance, the answer to that is yes.
What Temperature Does it Burn?
Black lead can burn if it reaches a temperature of 400°C. In order to better visualise that, the normal body temperature of a person is around 37°C. A temperature of just 37.8°C is considered a fever.
Fires can typically reach this temperature, but it largely depends on the source. A butane fire starts at 300°C.
The figure of 400 °C is used loosely. Certain types of this kind of lead may not burn at this temperature. It’s based mostly on the formation of how it was made.
In fact, it can even withstand temperatures of up to 3,000°C. This can only happen if the room has no oxygen. This is why it can be used for nuclear reactors.
What Happens If It Does Burn?
If the natural type burns and is inhaled, over time it can lead to a host of problems. Overall it leads to graphite pneumoconiosis. This happens when the dust gradually builds up in the heart and the lungs, causing a host of problems.
The symptoms of this include:
- Shortness of breath;
- Black mucus;
- Scarring in the lungs;
- Coughs; and
- Tightness in the chest.
All of this is even more dangerous in people with asthma.
In addition, if this substance is burning in a room where oxygen is scarce, the carbon dioxide that results from the burn may displace the oxygen. The effect is eventual suffocation. That is why it is important to wear respirators when working with this substance.
Every Little Bit Helps
Graphite is a versatile material that holds many unique characteristics. That is why it is used in a variety of products.
While not highly flammable, black lead can still burn under the right circumstances and at the right temperature. Despite the negative effects taking place long-term or in very specific circumstances, every little bit of knowledge about these specific dangers helps out in the long run.
When working with anything that could be a danger to a person’s breathing, knowledge of first aid practices will surely be helpful. Even if a person isn’t breathing, correct CPR practices can come in handy and save a life.
Learn more through CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.