Where Does Candle Wax Go When it Burns? (What to Know)

Intro

At one time or another, we have all lit a candle. If not, you must have seen a candle burning. So, what happens when a candle burns?

It is quite straightforward. You light the wick on fire. It causes the wax to melt.

The wax gets smaller and smaller, until the wick falls and you can no longer burn the candle.

During this entire process, have you ever wondered where the wax goes?

Well, this article will be the answer to this question!

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What is Candle Wax?

First things first- what even is candle wax in the first place? What is it made up of? What makes candle wax suitable to perform its role?

Candle wax is the substance on top of which the wick is attached. It can be made from a variety of fats and oils derived from plants, animals or rocks. Examples of different types candle waxes include:

Different types of waxes have some different features, resulting in consumer preferences. Though soy wax is often the preferred option due to its all-natural, non-toxic qualities.

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They are all primarily made of hydrocarbons. It is the ratio of carbons and hydrogen atoms in each type of wax that varies.

This general chemical composition of candle waxes is what makes them suitable for their role!

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Where Does Candle Wax Disappear?

In other words, where does candle wax go when it burns?

To understand the answer to this question, you need to know what combustion is.

It refers to the reaction of a substance with oxygen, which results in the production of heat and light. This heat and light is what you see as fire.

So, what does combustion have to do with candle wax disappearing? Candles use combustion as means of burning, or disappearing!

Recall, candle wax consists of hydrogen and carbon molecules. Both of these can burn completely.

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When you light a candle, the heat from the flame causes the nearby wax molecules to melt into a liquid form. These wax molecules then react with the oxygen molecules nearby, in the air, to burn. This leads to the production of carbon dioxide, a colourless gas, along with minute amounts of water.

Fun fact: liquid wax does not only burn from the pool around the wick! Instead, some liquid wax is drawn up the wick of the candle, through capillary action.

Once liquid wax comes into contact with oxygen, it dissociates into carbon dioxide and water particles, and evaporates into the air.

To summarise this all up, candle wax does not disappear. It transforms into carbon dioxide and water.

Since both of these substances are colourless and evaporate into air, you can no longer see them. This gives off the impression that candle wax has disappeared, when in fact it has not!

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Do You Breathe in Candle Wax?

When candle wax burns, it breaks down into carbon dioxide and water, both of which are released into the surrounding air. So, technically, does it mean we breathe in candle wax?

Well, no. Candle wax itself does not become part of air particles that we breathe in. So, you are not breathing in candle wax. Instead you are breathing in the particles which form when candle wax dissociates.

Carbon dioxide and water are present in the atmospheric air around us, so we breathe in these particles on a daily basis.

However, they are present in minute quantities in the air around us and when a candle is burnt, the amount of these particles significantly increases in the air surrounding the candle.

Is it Safe to Inhale Large Quantities of Carbon Dioxide?

The presence of large quantities of carbon dioxide is a natural consequence when candles burn. And yes, inhaling large amounts of carbon dioxide can be unsafe.

According to a study conducted by a group of scientists at Copenhagen University, they demonstrated that exposure to particles from burning candles can cause more damage to your lungs than if you were exposed to the same level of diesel exhaust fumes.

So does that mean you should stop burning candles? Absolutely not! You just need to take one precaution in order to protect yourself.

It is extremely easy! All you have to do is ensure that you only light the candle in a well ventilated room.

The European Candle Association provides some guidelines for when you light your candles, in order to avoid any potential harmful impact on your health. These include:

  • Do not burn candles in an enclosed area.
  • Ensure that the candle holder allows sufficient air to flow in.
  • Ventilate your room after extinguishing a candle
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Does the Type of Candle Wax Affect How it Burns?

Absolutely! Since each type of candle wax has varying levels and types of hydrocarbons, each wax also burns differently.

Candle wax is a primary determinant of a candle’s burn rate. When comparing two candles made from soy and paraffin wax, each sized at 4oz, both will burn for a different time.

The soy wax candle will burn for three more hours than the paraffin candle. This is a result of the differences in melting points between the candle waxes.

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Moreover, the type of candle wax also influences the particles emitted into the air. A study by Olszowski and Klos exhibits that a candle produced using palm stearin emits approximately half the soot released by a paraffin candle.

Other researches also demonstrate that soy candles produce significantly less soot and toxins compared to paraffin candles.

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Does Candle Wax Evaporate?

Yes, but not in its solid form.

Candle wax only evaporates once it reacts with oxygen and is broken down into carbon dioxide and water molecules.

Does Candle Wax Dissolve in Water?

In short, no.

Wax, regardless of which type, will not dissolve in water. Waxes are insoluble organic compounds, owing to the C-H bonds across their structure.

These C-H bonds make them neutral molecules, without any partial charges. This nonpolar characteristic of candle wax prevents it from dissolving in water.

Candle wax, however, does dissolve in a solvent that dissolves in oil.

If you happen to drop some candle wax on the carpet or somewhere else in the house, there’s nothing to worry about.

It can easily be removed using items which you are likely to have at home!

Nail polish removers containing acetone and rubbing alcohol containing isopropyl alcohol will do the trick.

If candle wax is stuck on the kitchen counter, simply put either of these substances on the wax. The wax should come out without any problem!

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Are You Supposed to Dump the Wax Out of Candles?

There’s no need.

Wax will melt when the candle is lit and the pool of liquid wax that forms around the wick is completely normal. In fact, it is essential.

Since it allows the fragrance to be emitted more effectively. Additionally, it is also essential for sustaining the flame.

After the candle is put out, the liquid pool around the wax will harden itself. So, if you had dumped the wax out, you would actually be wasting it!

Final Remarks

There’s no need.

Wax will melt when the candle is lit and the pool of liquid wax that forms around the wick is completely normal. In fact, it is essential.

Since it allows the fragrance to be emitted more effectively. Additionally, it is also essential for sustaining the flame.

After the candle is put out, the liquid pool around the wax will harden itself. So, if you had dumped the wax out, you would actually be wasting it!

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