Burning or Oxidation
: A Product of Burning.
When any fuel, such as coal, gas, oil, or wood, burns, it sends forth gases into the surrounding atmosphere. These gases, like air, are invisible, and were unknown to us for a long time. The chief gas formed by a burning substance is called carbon dioxide (CO2
) because it is composed of one part of carbon and two parts of oxygen. This gas has the distinction of being the most widely distributed gaseous compound of the entire world; it is found in the ocean depths and on the mountain heights, in brilliantly lighted rooms, and most abundantly in manufacturing towns where factory chimneys constantly pour forth hot gases and smoke.
Wood and coal, and in fact all animal and vegetable matter, contain carbon, and when these substances burn or decay, the carbon in them unites with oxygen and forms carbon dioxide.
The food which we eat is either animal or vegetable, and it is made ready for bodily use by a slow process of burning within the body; carbon dioxide accompanies this bodily burning of food just as it accompanies the fires with which we are more familiar. The carbon dioxide thus produced within the body escapes into the atmosphere with the breath.
We see that the source of carbon dioxide is practically inexhaustible, coming as it does from every stove, furnace, and candle, and further with every breath of a living organism.