I've always wondered why it is possible to pick things up with a burning ember if those things also catch fire.

The simplest example I know of, or perhaps just common, is the "cherry" falling off a cigarette. It is relatively easy to reconnect the ember to the main shaft, often by simply bringing them in contact. Even upside-down against gravity.

Somewhat obviously the ember is 'chasing' the nearest, best fuel source. What causes the force holding the two objects together? I naively assume electromagnetism at some level is at play but if so, please elaborate. If not, why is it sticky?

**Edit: ** As per request, I've uploaded a video demonstration. Admittedly not the best demo of this effect but it shows the general idea. Test any ember-to-ember connections, (for instance firework "punk" sticks) and the ease of adherence is readily noticeable compared to unlit material. https://youtu.be/st3ShzwB_xs

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I haven't experienced this, do you have a video or something demonstrating the phenomenon? $\endgroup$ – Suzu Hirose Sep 30 '16 at 2:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ One really needs a demonstration. The general answer will be convection: the air is heated and lifts, pressure between fire point and object lower than atmosheric, force inward, simulates attraction. $\endgroup$ – anna v Sep 30 '16 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ Added a demo video for clarification. Quality is fairly poor but hopefully enough. $\endgroup$ – Garet Claborn Sep 30 '16 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ I went outside just now and tried burning tissue paper and seeing if it would stick together, and it doesn't, so my conclusion is that fire isn't sticky. $\endgroup$ – Suzu Hirose Sep 30 '16 at 7:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I tried with matches. Flames do not attract each other, so it is not fire that is sticky. Of course flames generate different air currents than two cigaret stubs. I will keep the question in mind when winter starts and I will have embers to experiment with. (unless someone gives a good answer. I still think it is underpressure somehow) $\endgroup$ – anna v Sep 30 '16 at 8:41