The composition of smoke depends on the nature of the burning fuel and the conditions of combustion.
Fires with high availability of oxygen burn at high temperature and with small amount of smoke produced; the particles are mostly composed of ash, or with large temperature differences, of condensed aerosol of water. High temperature also leads to production of nitrogen oxides. Sulfur content yields sulfur dioxide. Carbon and hydrogen are almost completely oxidized to carbon dioxide and water. Fires burning with lack of oxygen produce a significantly wider palette of compounds, many of them toxic. Partial oxidation of carbon produces carbon monoxide, nitrogen-containing materials can yield hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and nitrogen oxides. Content of halogens such as chlorine (eg. in polyvinyl chloride) or other halogens may lead to production of eg. hydrogen chloride, phosgene, dioxin, and chloromethane, bromomethane and other halocarbons.
This article is about the powdery substance. For the language framework, see Soot (computer science).
Emmission of soot from a large diesel truckPyrolysis of burning material also results in production of a large amount of hydrocarbons, both aliphatic (methane, ethane, ethylene, acetylene) and aromatic (benzene and its derivates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; eg. benzo[a]pyrene, studied as a carcinogen, or retene), terpenes. Heterocyclic compounds may be also present. Heavier hydrocarbons may condense as tar.