Why do Candles Flicker? Everything You Need to Know

Intro

Do your candles ever flicker even when there is no significant rush of air?

When the candle flickers, the light being emitted starts varying significantly.

So, if you are relying on your candles as sources of light, sometimes it gets dark and other times there is a lot of light.

It can be annoying, right?

The whole purpose of lighting the candles was for some relaxation time and when the candle flickers too much, it ruins the very purpose of lighting them- relaxation!

So, why do candles flicker? Is there any way to avoid it? And very importantly, is it dangerous when candles flicker?

If you are concerned about any of the questions mentioned above, make sure to read on!

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Why do Candles Flicker?

If there’s wind around, it only makes sense- candles will flicker. But how do they flicker when there is no wind around?

To answer this question, you’ll need a little context as to how candles burn.

When you light a candle the flame is sustained by a constant flow of oxygen and melted candle wax.

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The wick of the candle pulls up the liquid wax, which is present around the flame. This action keeps the flame going.

Now when the amount of oxygen or wax that the flame is getting gets disrupted, the flame flickers.

Although, there are more reasons as to why candles flicker, a disruption in the flow of oxygen and/or candle wax are the main culprits.

Other reasons include the length of the wick being too long or if there are impurities, such as dust or soot, in the candle wax.

Both these reasons will result in a hindrance in the capillary action, which takes place in the wick of the candle.

If the wick is too long, it takes too much time for the wax to reach the flame through capillary action.

Similarly, when there is dust or soot in the liquid wax, it reduces the efficiency with which the wax is carried to the flame.

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Is a Flickering Candle Dangerous?

If your candle has a flickering flame which is getting higher, it can be dangerous!

As it starts flickering too much, it can easily catch things nearby on fire.

So, in essence, your seemingly harmless candle could result in a lot of damage!

In order to avoid this fire hazard altogether, avoid sitting near flammable surfaces.

These include curtains, carpets, basically anything that is made of fabric, or walls.

By doing so you will be able to relax fully without worrying about your candle catching fire!

How to Stop a Candle from Flickering?

While you can choose to sit away from flammable surfaces so that your candle does not catch fire, a certain level of hazard always remains if your candle flame is flickering.

So, how does one prevent candles from flickering?

There are a number of approaches to doing so. They are all listed below!

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1. Reduce the Amount of Wind in the Room

This is the basic, most common reason why candles flicker.

If there is too much air or daft in the room, even if it is not coming directly towards the candle, it will flicker.

If your candle is flickering due to this reason then you can eliminate the source of excess air, if possible.

For instance, most commonly, there is too much wind in the room due to a fan or air conditioner being on.

So, in that situation you can simply turn either or both of them off.

If for some reason, you can not turn the fan or air conditioner off, the next best alternative is to keep the candle as far away from them as possible.

This could be a small covered section in the room, so that the candle does not receive any excess air.

clean soot off candle jar

2. Cut Down the Length of the Wick

Large wicks are meant to be for bigger candles. If you are using a large wick for a small candle, the flame will ficker.

A longer wick means that it takes too long for liquid wax to reach the flame.

This disrupts the ratio of oxygen and candle wax the flame needs in order to sustain itself.

If you are making candles at home, it will take some time and quite a bit of trial and error to get the right wick size for your candle!

There is no standard ‘right’ wick size. You will have to experiment and see which wick length works best.

Just as larger wicks can cause problems, so can shorter wicks!

If the wick is too small and it does not reach the edge of the candle, it will result in tunneling.

Nevertheless, if you are buying your candles from a well known shop, wick length should not pose any problems!

If you feel that it has gotten longer after some time, just cut it very minutely to make sure that it is between 0.25 to 0.5 inches.

Anything longer than that and it will cause the flame to flicker.

3. Clean the Candle Before Burning

As mentioned before, wax impurities, such as soot, cause the flame to flicker.

Hence, it is essential that you clean the candle before burning! So, how to do that?

Dust and soot usually collect on the top layer of the candle. This is especially a problem for candles without lids, where dust often winds up on the surface from the surrounding air.

To clean the candle, all you have to do is take a clean dry cloth and wipe the dust and soot off the candle wax.

Before doing so, make sure that the candle wax is not hot. Otherwise you may burn your hand and you will be unable to clean the wax properly.

Moreover, it is essential you clean the top layer of the candle wax regularly. Doing so prevents the soot and dust from settling inside the wax.

If this happens, you will be unable to separate it from the wax!

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Why Does a Candle Flicker With No Wind?

For people who are new to using candles, this can be quite a surprise.

However, there are two main reasons why candles flicker even when there is no wind!

  1. The wick is too long.
  2. There are impurities in the candle wax.

However, fret not! Both these can be easily avoided.

The ways to do that are mentioned in the previous section!

Does the Type of Candle Wick Affect the Flicker?

In short- no! Unless there are some impurities in your wick, which is usually not the case, the type of candle wick does not affect the flicker.

The only aspect of the wick that impacts the flame is the length of the wick!

As long as you can maintain the length of the wick between ¼ to ½ inch, the wick will not be the reason your candle flickers!

Final Remarks

We hope this was an informative article for you!

If you have any more questions regarding why candles flicker, feel free to reach out to us!

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