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HI SeamusThe science:When a current passes through a wire, there is a heating effect due to the increased (and directional) flow of electrons from the negative end of the battery to the positive terminal. These collide with the metal ions; imagine a lot of children running through a corridor, barging into the adults, making them vibrate, becoming 'hot' and angry! Because the strands of wire are very thin, the wires get hot enough that they start to oxidise causing the combustion of the iron ions (forming iron oxide) and a lot of heat. Hope this makes sense! There is a bit more to it than that, but it is the crux of it.As a side note, it is more effective when the wire is teased out to form a less dense mass to get it started.
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