Biomass burning (BB) contributes large amounts of black carbon (BC) and particulate organic matter (POM) to the atmosphere and contributes significantly to the earth’s radiation balance. BB particles can be a complicated optical system, with scattering and absorption contributions from BC, internal mixtures of BC and POM, and wavelength-dependent absorption of POM. Large amounts of POM can also be externally mixed. We report on the unique ability of multi-wavelength photo-acoustic measurements of dry and thermal-denuded absorption to deconstruct this complicated wavelength-dependent system of absorption and mixing. Optical measurements of BB particles from the Four Mile Canyon fire near Boulder, Colorado, showed that internal mixtures of BC and POM enhanced absorption by up to 70%. The data supports the assumption that the POM was very weakly absorbing at 532 nm. Enhanced absorption at 404 nm was in excess of 200% above BC absorption and varied as POM mass changed, indicative of absorbing POM. Absorption by internal mixing of BC and POM contributed 19( ± 8)% to total 404-nm absorption, while BC alone contributed 54( ± 16)%. Approximately 83% of POM mass was externally mixed, the absorption of which contributed 27( ± 15)% to total particle absorption (at 404 nm). The imaginary refractive index and mass absorption efficiency (MAE) of POM at 404 nm changed throughout the sampling period and were found to be 0.007 ± 0.005 and 0.82 ± 0.43 m2 g-1, respectively. Our analysis shows that the MAE of POM can be biased high by up to 50% if absorption from internal mixing of POM and BC is not included.