Color and temperature of a flame are dependent on the type of fuel involved in the combustion, as, for example, when a lighter is held to a candle. The applied heat causes the fuel molecules in the candle wax to vaporize (If this process happens in inert atmosphere without oxidizer, it's called pyrolysis). In this state they can then readily react with oxygen in the air, which gives off enough heat in the subsequent exothermic reaction to vaporize yet more fuel, thus sustaining a consistent flame. The high temperature of the flame causes the vaporized fuel molecules to decompose, forming various incomplete combustion products and free radicals, and these products then react with each other and with the oxidizer involved in the reaction. One may investigate all the different parts of the flame from a candle with a cold metal spoon : Higher parts are water vapor, the end result of combustion; Yellow parts in the middle are soot; Down just next to the candle wick is unburned wax. Sufficient energy in the flame will excite the electrons in some of the transient reaction intermediates such as the methylidyne radical (CH) and diatomic carbon (C2), which results in the emission of visible light as these substances release their excess energy (see spectrum below for an explanation of which specific radical species produce which specific colors). As the combustion temperature of a flame increases (if the flame contains small particles of unburnt carbon or other material), so does the average energy of the electromagnetic radiation given off by the flame (see Black body).
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