Combustion of elemental carbon in air. Carbon is a ubiquitous non-metallic element that forms a large part of the Earth and all living things. It is found in a pure state as diamond and graphite, and is the major component of coal, oil and natural gas. When heated in the presence of oxygen it burns, glowing orange and releasing carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The sample here glows more brightly when it is blown upon, which increases the availability of oxygen. The burning of carbon-containing fuels provides much of the energy for the modern world.