Can You Light A Diamond On Fire?

You've certainly heard the buzzwords surrounding diamonds at some point in your life: Diamonds are forever. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. And so on. Humans have been adorning themselves with these tiny rocks for thousands of years. Indeed, ancient Sanskrit texts from India dating from the 4th to the 3rd centuries B.C. mention these gems, according to CBS News. And despite the fact that there's an entire industry devoted to them, and they can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more, diamonds are actually neither particularly rare nor valuable. That's because they're basically carbon — one of the most abundant elements in the Earth's crust, albeit with their atoms arranged a certain way, according to Impress Jewelry Creations

And carbon burns. In fact, one of the reasons we're facing climate change is because we've been burning other forms of carbon for a couple of centuries now, producing a by-product — carbon dioxide — that acts as a greenhouse gas. So if other forms of carbon burn, then can diamonds burn as well?

Yes, you can burn diamonds

As it turns out, it is possible to burn diamonds. As Live Science explains, it's largely just a matter of applying the right amount of heat to get the chemical reaction going. Whereas wood will burn at about 572 degrees F and coal at about 1,233 F, diamonds require a 1,652 F flame to get burning. Once it ignites, you'll see the gemstone glow red, then white. However, all you're going to get is a glow if you try the experiment in a normal room (viz, with about 22% oxygen). If you wanted to actually see a flame dancing atop the stone, you'd have to do the experiment in controlled laboratory conditions in an environment with a 100% oxygen concentration. Similar to what happens when you burn other forms of carbon, the reaction will produce carbon dioxide. 

This isn't all just theoretical: You can actually watch scientists of both the professional and the backyard variety burning (and attempting to burn) the precious gemstone. Diamond-burning videos, such as this one, are all over YouTube.