Cartoon and Illustration

Flammable Water

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the concept of Flammable Water recently.

Years ago the Muppets did a bit wherein Doctor Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker had developed “Flammable Water”.  While the hilarity that ensued was in part due to the performances, the basis of the humor was (at least in part) due to the oxymoronic nature of the term “Flammable Water”.

The humor results from the fact that while it is possible to combine all manner of various words in the English language, some are mutually exclusive to one another.  We all understand (or should understand) this intrinsically.

Water is not flammable.  It can never be flammable.

True, it can be used to dilute various flammable compounds which are so volatile in themselves that they will combust–but the water itself simply slows the rate of combustion, turns to steam and goes off to condense elsewhere–remaining water all the time.

Even if sent into the heat of the sun water does not burn.  It must be reduced to its two constituent elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen, in order for those to be burned–but in the process it ceases to be water.

So by definition, water is inflammable.  It will always be inflammable.  It doesn’t matter what label one wishes to put on it–in order for it to be what water is, it must be inflammable.  (I’m not saying that’s ALL it is, but it is part of what makes water, water.)

We do damage to the concept of water if we, in any seriousness, try to make it something it is not.