For years I was led to believe that there was a fundamental difference between these three things:
However, I recently read a report on the constituent of “smoke” and discovered that one of the main ingredients of what we call “smoke” is water. And indeed, if you burn hydrocarbons (compounds with hydrogen and carbon) such as wood then you inevitably get CO2 and H2O. So there is a lot more in common between smoke and these things:
This leads me to wonder whether there is a certain amount of academic dishonesty in the oft repeated asserting that “steam” is not the same as smoke. Or that the only “steam” is the bit lacking any obvious “steam” at the top of the kettle.
Because surely if clouds need condensation nuclei – things on which the cloud droplets form, then surely the “smoke” from a kettle also needs condensation nuclei. And is “smoke” really just steam – that happens to form on the much fainter and in many cases almost transparent “soot” given off by the fire?
In short, it appears the three essential ingredients for all these phenomenon are the same:
- Water vapour
- Condensation nuclei
- Low enough temperature
Thus the reality is that smoke & steam are in fact two variants of the same thing.