With the growing global interest in aromatherapy, it is becoming clear that there is increased demand for candles, as well as a developing curiosity about these items (candles) and how they work. People have become a lot more curious about the materials used in making candles; from tallow, beeswax, soy wax, palm wax and the more recent paraffin wax (which was just discovered in the 1800s, as a replacement for tallow wax, which was a lot more popular at that time). Another thing people want to know about candles is whether one can light candles in a house with oxygen.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF CANDLES?
There are different types of candles in the world. Long ago, candles were made from wrapping insects in some form of paper (e.g. papyrus), in such a way that the paper provides the structure, while the oils produced by the insects serves as the fuel source. At some point, rendered fat (which is called Tallow) was used predominantly to make candles (in fact, some of the earliest forms of candles used in the world are tallow candles). Other types of candles used commonly are; beeswax candles, soy wax candles, palm wax candles, paraffin wax candles and combination candles (which are candles that are formed by combining other types of candles in varying percentages).
When it comes to methods of classification, different criteria can be used to group candles. The type of wax used is one of the most common forms. However, candles can also be divided into groups based on whether they are colored or uncolored (the use of dyes in candle making leads to the formation of colored candles, except in instances where the components of the candle wax naturally imbue it with some colors e.g. the slight yellow color of tallow wax candles, which is a result of the composition of the animal fat used). Also the presence or absence of fragrance (i.e. in the case of scented and unscented candles) is also another solid, conventional way of classifying candles. Other ways of grouping candles include; size, type of wick, shape, weight and so on. This is because people’s preferences are usually dependent on those types of attributes.
WHY DO YOU NEED OXYGEN TO LIGHT A CANDLE?
Candles are very easy tools, but they operate on a really cool principle or natural phenomenon called combustion. Combustion is a chemical process that leads to the production of light and heat, when volatile materials interact with oxygen.
Oxygen is a very important material that is needed in the process of combustion because it helps in igniting and sustaining a candle’s flame. It is also very important in the formation of the byproducts of combustion, which include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other components of a candle’s fumes, which may be potentially toxic (depending on the type of material used in making the candle, and the kind of wick used).
Some types of candles burn cleanly, with the production of very little soot and a bright flame that is a result of a more complete combustion that other types of candle flames. Candles that burn cleanly, in such a manner, include beeswax candles, soy wax candles, and – rather surprisingly, considering its environmental consequences – paraffin wax candles.
Paraffin wax candles have are heavily criticized in the global candle markets because, despite their good attributes – e.g. their ability to burn cleanly and without odor, releasing very little soot, their stable wax structure and their suitability for mass production in factories across the world – paraffin wax candles are formed from petroleum. Therefore, when they burn, they tend to produce fumes which contain harmful materials like; toluene, benzene, formaldehyde etc, which can lead to dangerous ailments such as cancer, allergies and the worsening (and development) of respiratory diseases.
It is as a result of this reason that many candle lovers are now seeking more natural and environmentally sustainable forms of candle wax, and methods of burning candles.
HOW SHOULD YOU USE A CANDLE?
There are several dos and don’ts associated with candle making and the fine art of candle burning. However, many of these practices have been lost or forgotten over time, because candle making experienced a decline about two centuries ago, when the electric light bulb was first invented. Before then, candles were the most popular forms of indoor illumination. They were also widely used in a lot of religious functions by the church and other religions.
The invention of the electric light bulb resulted in a situation where people slowly stopped buying candles for the purpose of providing light. Instead, they started shifting to electricity. And the side effect is that a lot of knowledge about candle making and proper candle use was lost over the course of several decades.
Some of that knowledge includes; information on the act of trimming (the wicks of candles should always be trimmed before use. However, a lot of people do not know about this rule. The proper trimming of the length of a candle’s wick may prevent tunneling – a situation whereby the innermost part of the candle burns much faster than the sides – and it may also improve the candle’s lifespan.
CAN YOU LIGHT CANDLES IN A HOUSE WITH OXYGEN?
Another information people may have forgotten about candle is; how to maintain the appropriate balance between the amounts of oxygen needed (i.e. the provision of proper ventilation during candle burning) and the determination of what would be “too much oxygen.” This then begs the question, “Can you light candles in a house with oxygen?”
While oxygen in the air is needed to support candle burning, oxygen is still a highly flammable gas (in the pure form), which must be kept far away from all fire sources in order to avoid an explosion. Therefore you cannot – and should not – light a candle in a house filled with oxygen, as this is very dangerous and could (and probably will) result in an explosion and a fire outbreak.