I'm essentially working on a book in which the magical system involves people converting an energy source into a mimicry of an "element", complete with most of the properties but not actually creating any element. This lead me to consider, how that would affect fire and I need a sense check on my thoughts and any further facts I haven't considered.

The energy would behave like an anaerobic heat source and turn wood into charcoal but I know that usually takes a while. The water inside the wood might evaporate and hence explode outwards. The air around would expand and rise leaving a low oxygen region.

Thats's what I have so far any further info would be really appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ Looks like you have got it. It would make wood into charcoal. If it was slow water and volatiles would outgas slowly. If it was fast water would turn to steam and explode. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ You might want to compare wood rot (slow) with a lightning strike (fast). Lightning will explode the water in the bark of a tree blowing a line down the trunk. You might also watch the forest service videos on the need for frequent fires which keeps any individual fire small so that it kills small trees but spares the big trees. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ You've just created carbino (aka. wood alcohol's precursor). Is that what you intended? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 18:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's always a challenge to make science-based magic (it generally can't be done). If I understand you, your magic creates "fire" that isn't fire. In other words, it creates heat without combustion. Any heat will render wood into charcoal, evaporate the water, and expand the air. The more heat you have, the faster that all happens. Therefore, are you asking about the chemical reactions to heat? Or are you asking how your magic creates heat? (The presence of something that looks like a flame is merely an aesthetic, an artifact of the magic because as you said, you don't actually have a flame.) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 2:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is It Possible to Melt Wood in a Vacuum Chamber? Maybe this sheds some light (hehe). $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


Your understanding of the magical system and its effects on fire seems plausible so far. Here are some additional factors and effects to consider when dealing with the energy source and its interaction with fire:

Energy conversion: The energy used to mimic fire might not have the same conversion efficiency as a real fire. Depending on how you want your magical system to work, the energy-to-heat conversion could be more or less efficient, affecting the intensity and duration of the fire.

Temperature control: The magical fire might have the ability to regulate temperature more accurately than a natural fire. This could be useful for various applications such as forging, cooking, or other controlled processes.

Ignition point: Depending on how your magical system works, the energy might have a different ignition point than a natural fire. This could affect the types of materials that can be burned or how easily the fire can be started and extinguished.

Color and appearance: The appearance of the magical fire might differ from that of a natural fire. It could have unique colors, brightness, or other visual properties.

Smoke and emissions: Since the magical fire doesn't create any actual elements, you may decide that it doesn't produce smoke or other emissions typically associated with combustion. This could be an important distinction between magical and natural fires in your world.

Interaction with other elements: Consider how your magical fire interacts with other elements in your magical system. For example, does the fire have unique properties when combined with magical water or air? Can it be used to create new types of energy or magical effects?

Magical fire control: The users of this magical system might have a higher level of control over the fire they create compared to natural fires. They could potentially shape, direct, or manipulate the fire more easily, making it a versatile tool or weapon.

Exhaustion of the energy source: Depending on the rules of your magical system, the energy source used to create the fire might become depleted or exhausted over time. This could have consequences for the availability and sustainability of the energy source and impact the story or world-building.


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