Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Flashback: An odd experiment...brought to you by baking supplies and matches

Originally published on Machinations of a Wandering Mind - October 18, 2005:

Sit back and let me tell you a story.

The story involves a woman. That woman would be me. I was really bored one day and after watching Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, one question reared its ugly head: How or why did the windmill explode like that?

Windmills don't explode on a fairly normal basis, so there must have been a catalyst, some flammable catalyst. I was going to assume that there was no ammo in there, no TNT, no nitro-glycerin, no other items of explosive goodness. So, what was in that mill that made it explode? There was flour. Bags of flour, barrels of flour.

My mind was reeling...was it flour dust? I remember hearing that flour dust might have been the culprit. My husband only looked at me dubiously.

To support my theory, there was only one thing to do. Set fire to flour.

Being the safety-conscious person I am, I decided to put my cup of white baking flour in the kitchen sink so I could douse it before the impending fire could torch the rest of the house.

My husband was on standby. Not with a fire extinguisher, mind you. He was there for support. And laughing. He was definitely on "flour is not flammable" side of the peanut gallery.

I was determined to prove him wrong. So, with a flourish, I lit my first wooden match. As I carefully touched the warm flame to the small mound of flour in the sink, moving slightly away as not to singe my eyebrows from the inferno I was about to start. However, nothing happened. I actually extinguished the match by sticking it into the hapless flour.

There was a snicker behind me, one that I ignored by lighting another match and another one until there was me, the sink, and the mound of flour with some charred spears of used matches sticking out of it.

Dad decided to come home at that moment and asked what we were doing. I said, "I'm trying to light this pile of flour on fire."

"You're what? This house is made of wood."

"I know, that why we're doing it in the sink."

He then proceeded to tell me that flour is not flammable. As if my experiment was telling me otherwise. This was a year ago or so.

I only thought of this due to the fact that I found out yesterday that flour DUST is flammable and is the cause of many industrial fires. So there!

Flour, however, still remains annoyingly inflammable. I am also still not allowed to set fire to the house in any form, with or without baking supplies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey there im Grant and i know the problem to your flour delema(sorry if I spelled this wrong). The reason it would not combust is because it was just sitting there and not as a dust form. one way to put it into dust form is to put a small tube or hose into it and blow. the flour will then fly into the air(in dust form) and have the ability to burn. so as you blow with the match in hte air the flour will ignite (but not that much as it is not flour dust but insted airated flour).