Melting Aluminium

I placed a small plate of aluminium in one of my woodburning stoves to reduce the air flow and conserve fuel. The most abundant metal in the earth’s crust, aluminium is relatively cheap to buy and light to post, so it seemed a good choice. With a melting point of 655 degrees centigrade, it was unlikely to drip through the grate, the temperature of my stove seldom exceeding 200C. 

When I removed it for cleaning, however, I noticed what appears to be corrosion. This I thought was odd, as aluminium coats itself in a transparent oxide which prevents the kind of rusting one might expect on iron. I assumed that the smokeless coal which must have fallen onto it released some chemicals which corroded the metal.

I consulted a colleague who, while modestly claiming to be no expert, provided me with some plausible explanations. He thinks the wobbles on the edge and the rough-looking cut are certainly parts of the metal which have begun to melt. At 655 degrees, the entire sheet would have become liquid, but the melting process would have begun much sooner when it was merely heading in that direction. Secondly, the thermometer on my stove pipe does not measure the temperature inside the fire. My aluminium was among the flame and hot coal, where the heat would have been at its greatest. If the stove’s external temperature was 200 degrees, it isn’t inconceivable that its inner compartment was significantly hotter, with much of the excess disappearing into the flue. Furthermore, F.G. Kaufman reports in his 2016 paper Measuring the Effects of Fire Exposure on the Properties of Aluminum Alloys:

"Alloys of aluminium do not melt at a fixed temperature but rather over a range of temperatures dependent on their composition".

In other words, my metal sheet may not have been pure aluminium, and therefore it had no obligation to conform to the standard melting point.

Hell is sometimes described in the Bible as a place of fire and heat. It is a place of punishment, a graceless, dark habitation for those who reject God’s free offer of salvation. Yet I wonder if a great many unbelievers are already experiencing a milder version of it right now. Just as my aluminium began to melt well below the official melting temperature, so many gospel-rejectors are already feeling the pinch of a hellish eternity. The sheer spiritual loneliness, the daily meaninglessness, the grinding weight of an unforgiven conscience. If we believers are afforded the occasional foretaste of heaven, so the unbeliever may also sample hell. For some, it drives them to Christ; for others, it merely confirms their fate.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36