How do flares work? And how do they work underwater?

magnesium flares consist of powdered magnesium and an oxidizer ( material that contains oxygen ) the oxidizer is how they work underwater

I'll also note that the magnesium burns at a very high temp which is another requirement since water is a good heat sink - wood mixed with an oxidizer would not work since the water would 'quench' the fire or cool it to a point below that needed to sustain combustion.

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