How Do Candles Work?

At some point in our lives, we have all been intrigued how candles actually work, however, we are here to solve your queries. Scientists have been particularly amazed at the functioning of a candle.

Michael Faraday is known to have given an extensive lecture in the 18060s on the subject of candle science. He used his great analyzing skills to observe multiple scientific laws that worked during the burning of the candle.

NASA has also been one of the leading institutions that has amply worked on the logics behind the functioning of the candle. They have used the information to make sense for their space shuttles.

How Do Candles Work?

There is a lot of complex physics and chemistry related stuff when we dig deep behind the logic of candle science. Candles are composed of hydrocarbons: carbon and hydrogen.

Carbon is joined together to form larger chains with the other carbon atoms joined together while the hydrogens float around. Carbon and hydrogen are known for their burning properties.

When we light up the candle, the wick acts as a medium to transfer the carbon and hydrogen particles up through the capillary action. This action is defined as the accession of liquids up the thread.

When the melted candle wax reaches onto the top, the heat vapourizers the liquid into gas. This gas then reacts with oxygen in the air and forms a flame that gives off heat, light and some carbon dioxide.

carbon and hydrogen
carbon and hydrogen

How Do Candles Burn?

The heat from the candle is known to melt the candle wax which allows maximum vaporization of the carbon and hydrogen particles in the candle.

The New York Times magazine researched the candle wick and flame phenomenon and concluded that most of the candle matter just evaporated in the air and was lost.

The wick soaks most of the melted wax and forces it to absorb the wax which is brought on the top and is burnt in presence of oxygen from the air.

Where Does the Wax Go When You Burn It?

As the process of burning the candle describes its working, however, most of the wax is just lost in the air. This is due to the heat from the flame melting the candle wax.

A chemical reaction takes place between the air and the candle composite. The wax is brought on the top of the wick which is then burnt to produce the flame.

How Do Candles Run Out of Wax?

The candle wax works as a fuel for the most part of it. This means that when you lighten up your candle, it is essential for your candle to burn some part of the candle wax or paraffin to ensure that the flame doesn’t go off.

Moreover, the wax ensures that the process of combustion and vaporization goes smoothly. One quarter of the heat is radiated in the air which ensures that the reaction is preceded.

The process of combustion stops when there is no more candle wax or fuel to keep up with the candle burning reaction.

candle wax melting
candle wax melting

Do Candles Release or Absorb Energy?

There has been a constant debate on if candles release or absorb energy. Scientists have explained the process of combustion which is supposed to release energy in forms of heat and light.

Heat and light both are ways to release energy from the process of combustion, however, myths related to candles discuss how the burning of candles is known to absorb all the negative energies.

To describe the candle burning process comprehensively, we learn that the candle burning process is a two way system. The atoms in the candles are forced to vibrate to and fro which as a result releases energy out of the reaction.

The heat provides the atoms with so much energy that they start making space in between their lattice. The atoms that have gained the highest energy escape the lattice by jumping over and escaping into the environment.

A practical experiment that you can always perform to confirm that candle burning is an exothermic reaction is to put your hand in front of the flame. You will feel that your hand will start feeling warmer and eventually burn.

This is because the atoms in the candle vaporized and gained so much energy that they traveled through air and touched your skin while transferring the other form of energy.

This occurs because the particles have gained so much energy that it becomes essential for them to release it. Thus, the combustion reaction comes in handy.

Do Scented and Unscented Candles Work Differently?

In ancient times, candles were used as a means of light during dark times. However, we have seen them making a comeback due to the emergence of scented candles.

Scented candles have been a breakthrough in the candle’s market as people use candles to unwind themselves from their exhausting daily routines. Many people burn lavender candles to ensure that they receive a good night’s sleep.

However, there is no major difference between the functioning of both the candles. The scented candle experiences the same combustion reaction and releases water vapor and carbon dioxide, however it also releases scent as a byproduct.

The scent is the result of melted paraffin that contains a certain aroma which you can smell.

Can You Use Perfume in Candles?

Many DIY scented candle recipes mention perfume as an alternative to the scent in the candle.

However, it is important to note that using perfume in the paraffin mixture may clog the wick which may disrupt the process of normal combustion. You may even experience more soot and smoke coming out of the candle.

This will act as a hindrance to the capillary action and the wax won’t burn properly. It is necessary to use essential oils as only then will it release the scent.

Final Remarks

Thus, Candles have been one of the most helpful inventions throughout the history of man which have helped humans in the darkest of times.