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Agglomerated Soot from a House Fire Under a Microscope

Agglomerated Soot from a House Fire

This type of particle is typical of uncontrolled combustion. It is a collection of condensed hydrocarbons and soot particles. These particles are very "sticky" and so don't travel very far from the fire. They tend to stick to the first surface they contact. This particle was collected on a tapelift taken on the second floor of a home that had a fire in the basement. This was carried upstairs by the chimney effect through the stairwells.

Transmitted Off Crossed Polarized Light and Reflected Darkfield Illumination


Significance in the Environment:

Fires with insufficient oxygen where the plume tends to cool rapidly and where the fuel contains ample volatile condensable materials create large particles of agglomerated soot held together by the condensed tars from the fuel. These particles are typical of fires creating very dense, black smoke. The particles are "sticky", have a high sticking coefficient, due to the tars present in the matrix. They tend to be created predominantly by fires in confined spaces, such as building. They become a marker for the direct path of the plume close to the fire.

Characteristic Features:

Associated Particles: