Can Water Burn?

Can Water Burn?

Water is an essential component of life, and due to its ubiquity, it’s often taken for granted. But can water actually burn? Let’s take a look.

The Science Behind Burning Water

In order to burn, a substance must contain enough energy to heat another material to its ignition temperature, forming a flame.

Water is made up of two elements: oxygen and hydrogen. When these two elements are heated, they can actually become combustible and burn. This is due to the combination of the hydrogen’s flammability along with the oxygen’s ability to support combustion.

When the water is heated to a temperature of over 570 degrees Fahrenheit, it can reach its “flammable range,” and when combined with an oxidizer such as oxygen, it can catch fire and burn.

The Fiery Possibilities of Burning Water

The burning of water has practical applications that can be used to improve the efficiency of several types of engines. Water’s explosive aging process, called “deflagration,” allows the forced burning of a fuel-air mixture in engines. When water is used in place of air, a larger volume of burning gases can be created, which can then be used to drive the engine.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology can also use water burning to create electricity. Hydrogen is combined with oxygen and ignited, creating an explosive reaction that generates heat which can be used to generateAC electricity.

A Fulminating Solution

The burning of water uses up large quantities of energy and can be potentially dangerous, and thus it is only used in certain special cases.

However, it’s possible to convert water into an explosive substance without applying heat. Swirling a solution of water and silver fulminate creates a condition where the fulminate is more reactive, which can then be detonated using electrodes. Fulminating solutions are used in certain types of fireworks.


Water is the basis of life and usually a safe substance, but it can also burn under certain conditions. The burning of water has practical applications, such as the usage in engines and fuel cell technology. It’s also possible to convert water into an explosive solution without heat. So the answer is yes- water can burn, so it should be handled with caution and respect.