Common Questions About Candles

How do candles work?

All waxes are essentially hydrocarbons, which means they are largely composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms.

When you light a candle, the heat of the flame melts the wax near the wick. This liquid wax is then drawn up the wick by capillary action.

The heat of the flame vaporises the liquid wax (turns it into a hot gas) and starts to break down the hydrocarbons into molecules of hydrogen and carbon. These vaporised molecules are then drawn up into the flame where they react with oxygen from the air to create heat, light, water vapour and carbon dioxide.

Approximately one-fourth of the energy created by a candle’s combustion is released as heat radiates from the flame in all directions.

Enough heat is created to radiate back and melt more wax to keep the combustion process going until the fuel is used up or the heat is eliminated.

It takes a few minutes when you first light a candle for this combustion process to stabilise. The flame may flicker or smoke a bit at first but once the process is stabilised and the wick is trimmed properly, the flame will burn cleanly and steadily in a nice teardrop shape.

How are candles made?

 Most candles are made through the timeless process of setting a wick into wax which is then molded, dipped, extruded, pressed, rolled, drawn or filled into a heat-proof container.

Where did candles originate?

Candles have been used as a source of light for 5000 years.  Ancient methods of candle making are attributed to the Egyptians, who made rushlights or torches by soaking the pithy core of reeds in melted animal fat. However these rushlights had no wick.

The ancient Romans are generally credited with developing the wicked candle by dipping rolled papyrus repeatedly in melted tallow or beeswax. The resulting candles were used to light their homes, to aid travellers at night and in religious ceremonies.

Do candles have an expiry date?

 Most wax type candles will last for years although the  fragrance and colour will begin to fade over time.  It very much depends on the quality of the candle and where it is stored.

Heat, light and warmth will speed up oxidation and cold and dark will keep it fresh.

As a rule of thumb we say the best life span of a candle in normal conditions is the first two years

Which candles burn the longest?

How long a candle burns is dependent upon three major factors: the wax type, the wick, other ingredients (fragrance) and how it was made.

For instance, beeswax is a long burning wax but if a beeswax candle is poorly made and has air pockets and the incorrect wick, then it could be a very fast burning candle.

 At Living Light we have created a plant & beeswax formula which burns a very long time and does not melt in the sun.

The ‘performance’ of a candle will be greatly influenced by our ability to select the appropriate wick for each type of candle that we make. Through rigorous testing we ensure the wick is correct for each candle formula we create. Our candle artisans are thoroughly trained to ensure our handmade candles are created solidly and without air pockets. 

Soy wax can also have a long burn time if the wick gives the correct burn effect and meets all the above requirements.

Soy Candles vs Paraffin?

Soy wax candles generally burn slower than paraffin candles, meaning you’ll get a candle that lasts longer. Soy wax is derived from natural vegetables (soy beans), while paraffin is a refined gasoline by-product. Also, soy wax is 100% biodegradable while paraffin is not. An added advantage of soy wax is that it releases fragrance more readily than paraffin candles do.

Candles vs Diffusers?

When deciding whether to purchase a candle or a diffuser consider the following:

Candles give light and release scent. They are the romantic home fragrance indulgence and in the midst of our modern, fast-paced world, candlelight can bring a calming, peaceful and nourishing presence into our lives.

However if you are wanting to simply experience continuous fragrance in your home then diffusers are the way to go. Diffusers are a practical option as they have been created to slowly and evenly diffuse scent into the atmosphere. Living Light diffusers come with porous, natural reed sticks which are also environmentally friendly. Our reed diffusers can last for over a year making them excellent value for money however just remember to keep them out of direct sunlight to slow down the diffusion process!

So in short, for those of you who don’t particularly want to use candles but simply desire a beautiful fragrant home environment, then our reed diffusers are the perfect answer. For those who prefer a little aromatic luxury along with a peaceful moment of joy at the end of a hard day, then lighting one of our fragranced candles might be what you are looking for.

Can candles explode?

Candles can explode due to a chemical reaction when water combines with certain fuel types. This explosion may also be referred to as a candle fire. In addition to following candle care safety instructions on the label, keep your candles dry and away from water when they have a hot wax pool and effectively extinguish the wax fire when needed.

Can candles heat a room?

The theory is that one candle burning puts out approximately 80 watts.  It would therefore   take twenty burning candles to effectively create heat in a room.  We do not advise heating a room with twenty exposed flames as the risk factor is just too great!

Can candles be recycled?

You can make new candles out of old ones by removing any bits of wick debris or labels, melting the wax and pouring it into molds or glass containers. The important part is finding the right size wick or the recycled candle will not burn properly. And if you have different colours and scents then a fun way is to layer the recycled candle.

Another good way to use scented leftover wax from the candle is to make little scent chips for your wardrobe or car. 

Why do candles flicker?

Wind and air movement are the most common reasons that candles flicker however there are several other things that can result in this happening. Everything from the environment to the candle itself can make it flicker.

The wick is drawing oil from the candle wax as fuel, and a build-up is created within the wick. If the flame gets too little or too much air or fuel, it can flicker or flare and unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame before they can fully combust.

Having the correct wick is very important to prevent the wick flickering. At Living Light when creating a new candle, we ensure thorough testing is done to find the correct wick from our collection of thousands.

What other questions might you have for us? Message us and we’ll attempt to answer these for you!

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