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Relighting a Candle - Without Using the Wick!

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Author: TaniaDakka

You know how to light a candle. It’s easy, right? You light the lighter, place it to the wick, and voila! You’ve lit the candle…the conventional way. But, what if you wanted to impress your friends at your next birthday party by relighting the candles on your cake using only the smoke to set them aflame? Could you do it?

Problem:

Can you relight beeswax, paraffin or gelatin candles without using the wicks?

Materials

  • Beeswax candle
  • Paraffin candle
  • Gelatin candle
  • Grilling lighter
  • 3 Candle holders (if you choose candles that aren’t already built into glass containers)
  • Safety goggles
  • Adult lab helper

Procedure

  1. Set each candle in its holder (if necessary)
  2. Put on your protective goggles
  3. Light the first candle with the grilling lighter
  4. Blow it out
  5. Immediately hold the lighter in the smoke directly over the candle and pull the trigger
  6. Watch to see if the candle relights by lighting the smoke
  7. Record your results in the chart below
  8. Repeat for each of the two remaining candles

 

Candle

Amount of Smoke on a scale of 1 (very little smoke) to 5 (a lot of smoke)

Did the Candle Relight? (Yes/No)

Beeswax

 

 

Paraffin

 

 

Gelatin

 

 

 

Results

Each candle should have generated a moderate amount of smoke (about a 3) and each should have relit when the smoke was lit aflame.

Why?

When the candle is lit, the flame makes the wax melt. Some of the hot wax vaporizes (turns from a liquid into a gas) and is carried up into the smoke. The bits of wax in the smoke are then caught by the second flame that you light in the smoke and the flame travels down to the wick. Did you notice any difference between the beeswax, paraffin, and gelatin candles when you relit them? Some kinds of wax vaporize less than others, making it more difficult to light the smoke.

Digging Deeper

Try including even more different kinds of wax candles (such as bayberry wax, soy wax, and tallow) in your experiment! Does a certain brand of candle relight more easily than others? Does distance from the wick impact the relighting of the candle? Test out some of these questions on your own!

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