“If you set fire to a tyre, it produces thick black smoke, so why do tyres create white smoke during burnouts?”
This is probably one of those questions that’s never even crossed your mind, but now you’ve read it you’ll be desperate to know the answer. Well, fortunately, the answer is quite simple: when you’re drifting or doing a burnout, you’re not actually creating ‘smoke’.
When you get the tyre spinning, the friction between the tyre and the tarmac superheats the rubber to as much as 400 degrees (though this does depend on the length of the burnout). This melts the rubber tread, vapourising the chemicals and oil within it, sending these molecules into the air. The vapourised molecules then cool quickly and condense in the air, becoming the visible white ‘smoke’ you see - it’s actually more like steam than smoke, though.
So there you have it; tyre smoke isn’t really smoke at all, it’s just billions upon billions of vapourised molecules from a tyre’s rubber, oil and chemical makeup.