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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Understand Why Black Cobwebs Are On the Ceiling After A Fire

5/4/2022 (Permalink)

Soot webs are also known as black cobwebs

You may have seen some black webs dangling in ceiling corners if you have ever been to a property that just had a fire disaster. They seem to be cobwebs coated with soot at first sight. The majority of our customers would comment on their lack of cleaning ability. Luckily, these "webs" aren't really webs from a spider.

Our fire restoration experts have seen quite a number of fire-damaged properties. When it comes to the ceilings and walls, the extent of the damage can be evident. However, sometimes, the most severe damage is hidden in attics or between walls; it is undetectable until we dive in with further inspection. The black spider webs that come out of nowhere just after a fire are among the most apparent fire damage indicators.

What are the black cobwebs after a fire?
Soot webs, also known as soot marks, are formed when ionized soot particles attach and stick together. Soot particles are most common in ceiling corners, where the surfaces and air are colder. If you come across soot webs in your house, don't touch them because they're very sticky.

Soot webs, also known as "Black Cobwebs," are often confused as spider webs. These spider webs are known as "Soot Tags" and have nothing to do with real spider webs. In the case of a fire, spider webs will burn up very quickly.

The science behind soot webs
When petroleum-based or synthetic materials catch fire, black cobwebs, also known as soot tags, are formed. Soot forms and binds together in long strands during a fire, resulting in black web creation on ceilings and corners.

The heat from a fire travels into cooler regions; as the air tries to maintain the equilibrium. Since soot is transported through the air with heat, soot particles accompany the air into cooler areas with weak circulation and then concentrate.

The ionization process of burning (especially) synthetic materials such as polymers and rubbers, produces charged smoke particles that can attract onto specific surfaces and to each other, developing chains and gradually web-like formations. They form in conditions known as wet smoke, which includes low heat or a smoldering environment.

In short, soot is a combustion product, and when the particles are charged, they quickly form soot tags or long chains of soot marks. So, while it seems like a bunch of soot got caught on old spider webs, it's a completely new structure.

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