The Candle Cauldron - Everything You Want to Know About Candlemaking!

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This page last updated on 06-15-2003.    Originated on 4-13-1997.
Copyright © 1997-2003  Doneen St.John - Owner & Creator


   The Burning Question 
Misc. Candle FAQ's & Tips

Here are some helpful hints and tips I've collected on candlemaking, candle burning and candles in general that didn't fit into any other categories here :)

Q ~ What is the temperature of a candle flame?
A ~ The exact temperature of a candle flames depends on the material being consumed (burned).  First, it is important to understand that a candle does NOT burn the wick (the string).  It is the wax that acts as the fuel for the candle flame.  The heat of the flame melts the wax, transforming the solid wax into a liquid, which then travels up the wick.  (This process is  known as capillary action.)  Eventually the liquid wax is turned into a gas (like steam from a boiling kettle on the stove) and is consumed by the flame.  Different waxes will have different flame temperatures.  On average, the maximum flame temperature will be about 2550 deg F.   (Remember that water boils at 212 deg F.) 
(This info courtesy of:  Jeffrey Goldmeer, Post-doc/Fellow, Microgravity Combustion Science, NASA Lewis Research Center)
Here are a few other interesting links on candle chemistry and flames!
~ Why doesn't a frozen candle burn slower?

~ Article on candle flames from Fantasy & Science Fiction
~ Why can a candle be blown out?
~ Where does the wax go?
~ Burning candles in space
Q ~ How do I seal my mold so it won't leak around the wick?
A ~ Try using a rubber washer under your wick screw.  Then spread mold sealer putty over it, completely covering it.
Q ~ How do I calculate the burn time of a candle?
A ~ Before lighting the candle, use a scale to weigh it and find it's total weight.  Then light and let burn for 3 hours (assuming it's a 3 inch diameter candle).  Weigh the candle again.  Now you can calculate the burn rate. For example, if you have a 16 oz candle to begin with, and after 3 hours of burning it weighs 15.5 oz, then that means it burned .5 oz  in 3 hours.  Split that in 3, so in 1 hour .16 oz burned away.  Now take your original total weight (16) and divide that by your per hour burn rate (.16).  This would give you a total burn time of approximately 100 hours. 
Note:  Another guideline to consider is that a standard 2 ounce sized votive candle mold is rated as a 15 hour votive mold by the manufacturers.  Divide by 2 and that would mean that each ounce should burn for about 7.5 hours.  This can vary and will greatly depend on your formula, but you can use this as a goal to aim for.
Q ~ What do the three sets of numbers on the wicks mean?
A ~ The first number "44" is the thickness of the wick. The bigger this number, the thicker the wick. The second number "24" is coded for the speed of which the string (all wicks start out with very thin string) goes thru the wicking machine gears. The faster it goes thru the machine the tighter the wick is wicked, which should slow the wick from burning too fast. The last number "18" is a code for the temperature of the wax as the string (wick) goes thru the various gears. This temperature varies according to the previous numbers. 
Q ~ Will putting candles in the refrigerator make them burn longer?
A ~  Some say Yes... some say No!  Refrigerating candles before use is said to help them burn more slowly and evenly, but according to the article linked above, it does not truly help.  Candles should be wrapped in foil or plastic before refrigeration to prevent the wicks from absorbing moisture. 
Q ~ Is there a certain length of time a candle should be burned?
A ~ Yes.  The maximum burning time for a candle, at one setting, should be no more than one hour for each inch of its diameter, example:  A 4 inch wide jar candle should be burned for 4 hours at a time. 
Q ~ What is that Bayberry candle poem, I can't remember it...
A ~  "This bayberry candle is a gift from a friend, on Christmas Eve burn it down to the end. 
A bayberry candle burned down to the socket, brings luck to the home and wealth to the pocket." 
Q ~ Can I use crayons to color my candles?
A ~ The use of crayons in place of candle dye is not recommended because they contain pigments that can clog the candle's wick while burning and cause the flame to drown out.  Not to mention that crayon smell! 
Q ~ Which way does the "V" go in the wick?
A ~ The "V" goes up, open end at the top. 
Q ~ How do I clean my metal molds, tools and containers?
A ~ Place your molds, tools or containers upside down on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and place it in an oven heated to about 150 degrees.  Once the wax has melted and run out onto the foil, you can wipe them clean with a paper towel while still hot.  Be careful not to burn yourself!
Q ~ What is Bloom?
A ~ After time you may notice a white powdery dust on your beeswax.  This is bloom.  It is a natural occurrence on beeswax & a good indication your beeswax is pure.  It can be easily removed by the heat of a blow dryer or gently wiping it off with a cloth.  A similar white powdery finish can often be found on soy wax candles.

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