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Can the sea be set on fire?

Can the sea be set on fire?
Collis School year 2 from Surrey (age 5-14)

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2 Responses

  1. No, it can’t. In fact water, which makes up most of the sea, can be made by burning hydrogen, or by burning fuels containing hydrogen. So water actually comes out of every car’s exhaust pipe when petrol is burnt in the engine, and some of that water will probably find its way to the sea.

    I suppose you could pour oil onto the sea and set fire to it, but that’s not the same as setting the sea on fire, even though it would look like it!

  2. Reactions can also take place which give the appearance of water burning. As stated by Roland Jackson water contains in its molecular structure hydrogen, which as a gas burns.
    A reaction can therefore be used to liberate hydrogen from the water, allowing combustion of the hydrogen to take place. This will often be demonstrated in schools with solid sodium being placed onto water, the sodium reacts with the water causing a fizzing sound and bubbles. Heat is generated and the sodium burns with a bright flame.
    The reaction below shows how the water can split to produce the hydrogen gas H2 (Sorry but I was unable to put in subscripts) which burns.
    2 Na + 2 H2O = 2 NaOH + H2

    The hydrogen produced when combusted can then create more water.

    2H2 + O2 = 2H2O

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