Does a Candle's Temperature Affect its Burn Rate?

4.0 based on 101 ratings

Updated on Sep 25, 2013

Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Physical Science


This experiment will allow students to investigate the relationship between the temperature of a candle and its burn rate.

Research Questions:

  • Does the temperature of a candle affect how long it will burn?
  • Will a candle burn longer in a warmer room or a cooler room?

Candles were once used as a main source of heat and light. For this reason, more candles were lit during the fall and winter months. Will candles last longer if the temperature is warm or cool?


  • 6 identical candles
  • Lighter
  • Refrigerator
  • Ruler
  • Timer
  • Thermometer or thermostat

Experimental Procedure

  1. Measure the length of the candles and the candlewicks to ensure that they are all equal.
  2. Wrap three of the candles tightly in plastic wrap to prevent moisture from reaching the wick.
  3. Place the three wrapped candles in a refrigerator overnight. Make note of the temperature setting in the refrigerator.
  4. Place the other three candles at room temperature. Check the thermostat to ensure that the room temperature is at least 20 degrees higher than the temperature in the refrigerator.
  5. Remove the candles from the refrigerator and immediately light them
  6. Allow the candles to burn for 30 minutes.
  7. Put the flame out on the candles.
  8. Wait for the candles to cool and then measure the candle length.
  9. Record the decrease in candle length after burning.
  10. Repeat steps 6-9 using the room temperature candles.
  11. Do you see similar decreases among all of the refrigerator candles? Do you see similar decreases among all of the room temperature candles? Is there a relationship between the temperature of the candle and the rate at which it burns? Will a candle burn faster or slower in the winter?

Terms/Concepts: burn rate, temperature


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