You’ve seen molten metal before, and it’s a very cool sight. You can’t help but be curious about what can cause a solid metal to become a liquid like that. Can fire melt metal?
Fire can melt metal, but it depends on the type of fire (a candle versus an open flame) and the type of metal. For example, stainless steel has a melting point of upwards of 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit, so it would take a lot of heat to melt it!
In this article, we’ll examine the various melting points of different types of metals as well as what kind of fire it would take to melt them. There’s lots of fascinating information to come, so make sure you keep reading!
What Is the Melting Point of Metal?
It’s believed that there exist about 80 unique types of metals. We can’t possibly talk about them all, but we do want to share the melting points for some of the better-known types of metals.
A melting point, if you need a refresher, is the required temperature that a solid melts.
Keeping that in mind, here is a list of melting points for metals.
- Zinc – 787 degrees
- Tungsten – 6,150 degrees
- Titanium – 3,040 degrees
- Tin – 449 degrees
- Thorium – 3,180 degrees
- Tantalum – 5,400 degrees
- Stainless steel – 2,750 degrees
- Stainless carbon – 2,500 to 2,800 degrees
- Sterling silver – 1,640 degrees
- Pure silver – 1,761 degrees
- Silicon – 2,572 degrees
- Selenium – 423 degrees
- Rhodium – 3,569 degrees
- Rhenium – 5,767 degrees
- Platinum – 3,220 degrees
- Phosphorus – 111 degrees
- Palladium – 2,831 degrees
- Columbium or niobium – 4,473 degrees
- Nickel – 2,647 degrees
- Monel – 2,370 to 2,460 degrees
- Molybdenum – 4,750 degrees
- Mercury – -38 degrees
- Manganese bronze – 1,590 to 1,630 degrees
- Manganese – 2,271 degrees
- Magnesium alloys – 660 to 1,200 degrees
- Magnesium – 1,200 degrees
- Lead – 621 degrees
- Ductile iron – 2,100 degrees
- Cast iron – 2,060 to 2,200 degrees
- Wrought iron – 2,700 to 2,900 degrees
- Incoloy – 2,540 to 2,600 degrees
- Inconel – 2,540 to 2,600 degrees
- Hastelloy – 2,410 to 2,460 degrees
- Gold – 1,945 degrees
- Copper – 1,983 degrees
- Cobalt – 2,723 degrees
- Chromium – 3,380 degrees
- Cadmium – 610 degrees
- Bronze – 1,675 degrees
- Yellow brass – 1,660 to 1,710 degrees
- Red brass – 1,810 to 1,880 degrees
- Beryllium copper – 1,587 to 1,750 degrees
- Beryllium – 2,345 degrees
- Babbitt – 480 degrees
- Aluminum bronze – 1,190 to 1,215 degrees
- Aluminum alloys – 865 to 1,240 degrees
- Aluminum – 1,200 degrees
- Admiralty brass – 1,650 to 1,720 degrees
Can Fire Cause Metal to Melt?
Now that you’ve seen the list of metal melting points, it’s time to determine, can a fire cause metal to melt?
Well, that depends on the fuel source. After all, a fire always needs some combustible material for ignition. Let’s look at the flame temperature of fire depending on the material being burned.
Oxy-fuel welding or oxy-fuel cutting, also known as oxyacetylene, combines oxygen and acetylene to produce an ultra-hot flame. Said flame burns at 5,972 degrees.
At such a hot temperature, oxy-fuel welding flames could easily melt many types of metals, but not tungsten. That metal melts at over 6,000 degrees.
Ethyne or acetylene is a hydrocarbon that’s frequently used in blowtorches and blowlamps. The hottest temperature from acetylene flames is about 4,172 degrees.
An acetylene flame could melt fewer metals than oxyacetylene but still an impressive number of metals on the list from the last section.
A hydrogen torch, referred to also as an oxyhydrogen torch, utilizes oxy-gas to burn oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen acts as an oxidizer while the hydrogen is the fuel source.
Hydrogen torches are frequently used to weld and cut thermoplastics, glasses, and metals. At its hottest, a hydrogen torch flame can reach a temperature of 3,632 degrees, so it’s quite efficient at melting many metals!
Propane blowtorches are another oft-used tool for metalworking and welding. It makes sense too considering these torches can produce a flame at temperatures between 2,192 and 3,092 degrees. Many types of metal would melt in that heat.
When you light a candle, although the flame isn’t very large, it can be hot. Candle flames regularly reach temperatures of 2,012 degrees. Hot spots could be warmer too, anywhere from 2,372 to 2,552 degrees.
Due to the size of a candle flame though, it wouldn’t be easy for the flame to melt metal.
Bunsen Burner Flame
The scientific tool known as the Bunsen burner generates flames at a temperature range of 1,652 to 2,912 degrees. The reason for the temperature disparity is that a Bunsen burner produces stronger flames if the air valve is closed or open.
As a natural gas, lighted methane produces a flame that burns between 1,652 and 2,732 degrees. You can’t melt the hardiest types of metal with a methane flame, but most types of aluminum should be fair game.
The next time you light a charcoal fire, know that it’s burning anywhere from 1,382 to 2,192 degrees. The flame would certainly be hot enough to melt metals with a lower melting point, which is fascinating stuff!
The alkane butane becomes a gas when exposed to atmospheric pressure and room temperature environments. Since it’s so flammable, it can easily feed a fire, resulting in flames that are about 600 degrees.
A butane fire wouldn’t melt many types of metals, not even zinc with a melting point of 787 degrees.
The alcohol methanol or methyl alcohol is another type of flammable liquid in the same vein as butane. It produces much hotter flames that can reach temperatures of up to 2,192 degrees. At such a high degree of heat, a methanol fire could melt some metals.
Wood-burning fires are common, but exactly how hot does the flame get when you toss a few logs? That would be approximately 1,880.6 degrees, which might be hotter than you’d expect.
You could likely melt some metals in the flames of a wood-burning fire.
Since vehicles use gas and have internal combustion engines, the max flame temperature of gas can’t be too high. Indeed, gasoline fires burn at 1,878.8 degrees, which is barely cooler than a wood fire.
Paraffin or kerosene still has uses today, as it’s sometimes favored for heating, lighting, and cooking. Kerosene flames don’t exceed 1,814 degrees, which would make them hot enough to trigger the melting point of some types of metals.
Finally, we have animal fat fires, which burn at 1,472 to 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit. You could theoretically melt selenium, lead, and magnesium at those temperatures.
Fire can melt metal, although it depends very much on the temperature of the flame and the type of metal. Some metals have a melting point of well over 5,000 degrees, so it would take a very hot fire for these metals to buckle.