Combustion Reaction Definition

Fire is evidence of a combustion reaction. Pexels

A combustion reaction is a type of chemical reaction in which a compound and an oxidant is reacted to produce heat and a new product. The general form of a combustion reaction can be represented by the reaction between a hydrocarbon and oxygen, which yields carbon dioxide and water:

Hydrocarbon + OIn addition to heat, it's also common (although not necessary) for a combustion reaction to release light and produce a flame. In order for a combustion reaction to begin, the activation energy for the reaction must be overcome. Often, combustion reactions begin with a burning match or other flame, which provides the heat needed to initiate the reaction. Once combustion starts, enough heat may be produced to sustain the reaction until it runs out of either fuel or oxygen.

Combustion Reaction Examples

Examples of combustion reactions include:

2 HOther examples include a burning match or a campfire.

To recognize a combustion reaction, look for oxygen on the reactant side of the equation and the release of heat on the product side. (Note that heat is not always included in written reactions since it isn't a chemical product.)

Sometimes the fuel in a combustion reaction also contains oxygen. A common example is ethanol (grain alcohol), which has the combustion reaction: