Oxygen will react with the metal copper. It will also react with the nonmetallic compound butane (C4H10). Which of these reactions is a combustion reaction?

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Combustion is defined as the burning of hydrocarbon fuels in the presence of excess oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, water vapor, and heat.  Oxygen will react with copper to produce copper oxide (either CuO or Cu2O depending on the oxidation state of the copper).  This is a slow reaction that produces no carbon dioxide or water or heat.  This is because copper is a metal and not a hydrocarbon.  A hydrocarbon is a chemical that contains only carbon and hydrogen.  Butane (C4H10) is a perfect example of a hydrocarbon.  Because it contains carbon and hydrogen, it will combust according to the following reaction:

C4H10 + 6.5O2 --> 4CO2 + 5H2O

So butane is clearly the combustion reaction.

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