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A reaction that produces a small number of different objects which are desired or which are easily deleted is said to be clean. For example, a puffer that produces just one object per period (such as blinker puffer 1) is clean. Clean reactions are useful because they can be used as building blocks in larger constructions.

When a fuse is said to be clean, or to burn cleanly, this usually means that no debris at all is left behind. Most useful fuses are clean, and some examples include beehive fuse and blinker fuse.

A reaction that is not clean is said to be dirty.

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