What Temperature Does Paper Burn/ignite/combust? (Explained)

Paper is an integral part of every human and even civilization since the ancient ages. And we have always seen how easily paper, parchment paper, or other forms of paper catch fire and start burning. But have you ever wondered at what temperature paper burns?

Well, most of us may have read that paper burns at 451°F temperature or at least auto-ignites at this heat point. But doesn’t it seem higher considering how easily and quickly we can ignite and set the paper to burn?

The ignition point and burning temperature of paper vary anywhere from 425°F to 481°F temperature, and it depends on the thickness, volume, and material of the paper. That’s why regular paper, paper-made cardboards, and parchment paper have different ignition and burning point.

In this fireproof depot guide, you will learn the flowing,

  • Ignition Temperature Of Paper
  • Does Paper Burn At 451 Degrees?
  • The reason Why Paper Burn When Heat Is Applied
  • At What Temperature Does Wet Paper Burn?
  • Burning Point Of Parchment Paper
  • At What Temp Does Cardboard Ignite? and more..

Related topics: Can Parchment Paper Catch On Fire? (Flashpoint Of Parchment Paper)

What Is the Ignition Temperature of Paper?

Ray Bradbury, the famous author of “Fahrenheit 451” in his book, expressed that at 451°F, the temperature book’s paper ignites and starts burning. We feel that the book was immensely popular with the best-selling title, and so, many people went on to believe that paper actually sets fire at 451-degree.

But that’s not the scientific truth. In fact, the book actually refers to the auto-ignition heat point of the paper. It means a temperature where the paper will catch fire without the use of any external flames. But it won’t start bringing straightforward right at this point.

The ignition point of any material depends on its physical properties, volume, thickness, and density. It means different papers will ignite and burn at various temperature levels. Yes, previously, it was believed that paper catches fire at 450-degree Fahrenheit.

But some recent experiments on the auto-ignition and burning point of paper found that its actual ignition is at least 30°F higher than the previous estimation. So, it is assumed as of now that the regular paper will catch fire and start burning at 480-degree.

But that’s not even the entire story.

The igniting point will also vary depending on the exposure time of the paper at that heat. For instance, if you keep the paper only for 3 to 4 seconds in 480-degree heat, it won’t catch fire at all. It needs enough exposure to such heat so that the molecules of the paper are heated for burning.

And by the time you see the edges burning, the center of the paper may reach an overwhelmingly high temperature at 1500°F. Yes, it seems unreal, but scientists have found evidence in favor of it.

So, here’s the takeaway-

  • A regular paper will ignite at 480-degree temperature.
  • It needs enough exposure to the heat, so its molecules are heated to burn.
  • If the exposure to heat isn’t enough, the paper won’t burn even at 500°F.
  • The center of the paper will reach up to 1500°F during the ignition time.

Does Paper Burn At 451 Degrees?

People have the misconception that paper is easy to ignite and burn. Also, it doesn’t need much heat for burning. But the reality is slightly the opposite. A paper may not even burn at 451 degrees unless it gets enough exposure time under the heat.

In fact, the actual bring a point of the paper is at least 30 degrees higher than what we imagined or thought until now. So, you should expect the paper to start burning at around 480-degree. Although it seems quite a high temperature, you will still feel it low when compared to other materials.

For instance, charcoal needs 660 degrees and gasoline needs 536 degrees of temperature for auto-ignition without any external flames. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Hydrogen will burn at 995°F, and iron will self-ignite at 2399°F. So, you now may imagine how much heat any material needs for burning.

Why Does Paper Burn When Heat Is Applied?

Paper burns when applied heat because it follows the rule of thermodynamics. Since paper is often made of wood, it has energy preserved. And we all know the rule of thermodynamics that energy is indestructible and can only be transformed from one property to another.

When you apply heat to a paper, its molecules start moving faster. Thus, they are energized more. Plus, the already existing energy inside the paper molecules provides a further boost to this formation. Thus, the triggered energy slowly starts transforming from static energy to heat energy.

As the energy level rises above the ignition limit of the paper, it starts burning. Thus, it can be said that the extra energy offered by the external heat combines with the existing energy inside the paper to help it burn.

It’s a simple thermodynamic rule.

But there’s another important consideration. You may wonder from where the paper preserves its energy. We know that paper is made from wood or bamboo mostly. These trees or grasses use sun rays to get their energy using the photosynthesis method.

It preserves the energy as part of its food and uses it in the future too. Thus, when the wood or grass is converted to paper, the energy remains inside it. When heat is applied, this energy adds to the heated energy and helps the paper burn.

What Temperature Does Paper Burn?

First off, you must understand that wet paper actually doesn’t burn. If the paper is wet by dipping it into the water, it won’t burn until it dies. Also, if you dip the paper in 50% alcohol, it still won’t burn.

This happens because water has high resistance to heat. It needs extreme temperature to transform from water into vapor. Thus, a wet paper will not reach the activation point for auto-ignition as water prohibit the heat from reaching its full energy that ignites the paper.

Thus, you will actually need to wait until the paper dries. But even here is a twist.

Since paper is pretty thin and ignites fast, you will not see the difference if you put the paper in extreme heat. The difference between wet paper and dry ones for burning is visible when you apply only a minimum temperature to it.

Therefore, the actual idea is simple-

There’s no specific temperature point for the wet paper to burn. You just have to provide enough energy, so the fire beats the water properties to resist heat.

The Burning Point of Parchment Paper – How Hot is Too Hot?

Parchment paper or foils are the daily essentials of the kitchen, particularly for those who prefer oven-baked and cooked foods. Thus, you should know the burning point of parchment paper.

The experts and manufacturers commented that the burning poi t of parchment paper is rated from 420 degrees to 450 degrees mostly. It means the parchment paper will reach its ignition point once it crosses the limit.

But in reality, you will find the paper more resistant to heat. In fact, when you bake pizza or bread in the microwave oven, you will often cross the temperature limit. The parchment paper will reach up to 500°F temperature during baking time, although it is not recommended at all.

Nonetheless, there’s a piece of good news. We have consulted with Reynolds and Regency, the top parchment paper manufacturers in the US, about the parchment paper issue. They confirmed that the paper wouldn’t burn even at a higher temperature than recommended.

Also, at such a high temperature, the paper won’t release any toxic chemicals. So, it remains safe for your food inside the oven.

What Temperature Does Parchment Paper Burn?

The recommended temperature for parchment paper use is around 450°F. Thus, many people consider that parchment paper will start burning at 450-degree.

But it doesn’t happen in reality. In fact, parchment paper easily survives up to 500-degree heat. Once it crosses the limit, you can expect it to burn. The good thing about all these ignition points is that the parchment paper will rarely reach such extreme temperatures in the microwave oven.

Also, it remains food safe even at this temperature. So, you can confidently use the paper for baking your favorite food.

At What Temp Does Cardboard Ignite?

Pizza boxes are made of cardboard. Many people are indeed tempted to insert the pizza box directly into the oven to heat it instantly.

But is this even safe?

The answer is no- a big no.

It is because the cardboard will ignite as soon as it reaches 400°F temperature. And the microwave oven quickly reaches such high heat, which can quickly burn the cardboard. Also, it happens because the cardboard will be inside the oven for an extended period.

If it is kept for a reduced time under heat, the ignition point will start rising, and it will even reach up to 450 degrees.

Might be helpful: Is Cardboard Flammable? (Flashpoint Of Cardboard)


The actual auto-ignition or burning point of standard paper is around 481°F temperature, and it is at least 30-degree more than popular belief. Also, it needs substantial time to catch fire.

Furthermore, you won’t be able to catch fire in wet paper due to its chemical properties. It needs to be dried off, and then it will catch fire. And for parchment paper, you can expect it to survive even at 500°F at ease. So, it is safe for use in the oven for baking and warming food.

2 thoughts on “What Temperature Does Paper Burn/ignite/combust? (Explained)”

Leave a Comment