On Planet FeC, residents commonly burn naturally occurring steel ingots as what we would call firewood. As with actual firewood on Earth, these ingots vary in fireworthiness: a large, "green" chunk can be hard to burn, while "dry kindling" makes a nice, crackling fire.

Granting those variations in materials, what are the most likely ambient conditions, or what are the most likely ranges of ambient conditions, on Planet FeC?

  • $\begingroup$ Is there a sea of gallium nearby? $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Feb 8 at 6:09

1 Answer 1


Iron burns already in our atmosphere, as you can see if you search the internet for "burning steel wool", which give you also videos and images like the one below

enter image description here

What you need to have is an oxidizing atmosphere, and the remaining factor will be the exposed surface of the iron: the higher the surface, the faster the oxidation reaction.

On your planet bulk iron would be the equivalent of green logs, while more finely dispersed iron would be dry kindling.

Rusting iron is at the end just a very very slow combustion, not as dramatic as what you can observe with steel wool.

Also be aware that finely dispersed iron dust can produce dust explosion

  • $\begingroup$ Alternatively: a Halogen atmosphere makes for very visible fires with dense smokes, particularly chlorine is stable enough. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Feb 8 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ Surface area is so much more important than most people realize. Wood gives us a false intuition, because we think we see large logs burning. What we're actually seeing is a log heated until the wood releases gases, and those gases then burn to produces enough heat to etc etc. This is why it's such a production to start a fire with tinder and kindling, instead of just holding a match to a block of wood. Anything that oxidizes directly (like iron) will need help in exposing that surface to oxidation. Fluffy steel wool logs? Veins of naturally occurring thermite? $\endgroup$
    – Jay McEh
    Feb 8 at 17:25

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