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Taking a Look at Candle Science

July 17, 2020 Craig Price

There’s a lot more to candle science than meets the eye, or rather than the eye sees. Being ever so slightly candle obsessed (shock horror), we like to know everything we can about soy candles. This includes candle science, which is the ins and outs of how candles work.

We’re not alone in our passion to learn more about candles; scientists have been studying them for hundreds of years. In 1860, well-known scientist Michael Faraday gave a lectures series about his observations of a burning candle. NASA even performed candle flame behaviour experiments in the space shuttle in their quest to learn more too.

We thought it was time to share some facts about candle science with you, helping to bring you to the ‘light’ side too…

Understanding Candle Science

Soy wax, like other waxes, is a hydrocarbon consisting of hydrogen and carbon atoms. When one of our soy candles are lit, the flame melts the wax near the wick, and the liquid wax is drawn up the wick. Once the liquid wax meets the heat of the flame, it vaporises and splits into individual hydrogen and carbon molecules. These molecules then go up the flame, reacting with oxygen to make heat, water vapour and carbon dioxide.

The flame itself has three main colours:

  • blue - this is the area with lots of oxygen, where the hydrocarbon breaks into molecules. This is the hottest area, around 1400 degrees C.
  • orange or brown - not much oxygen here, this is where small hardened carbon molecules begin to be made.
  • yellow - lots of carbon here which can be seen as soot with non-soy candles. It’s around 1200 degrees C here in the flame.

Our final bit of candle science trivia is around why the flame of a candle always points up. Remember how we said NASA did some experiments on candle flames in space? Well, it turns out they found out that when there is no gravity, a candle flame is spherical. This compares with the elongated flame shape we’re all used to seeing. Gravity is the reason why the flame points up because the warm air rises to create a convection current. When there is no gravity, the warm air doesn’t know where to go, so surrounds the wick instead.

Can you wow us with some candle science? What facts can you find to share with us in the comments section below ↓↓↓



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