There are many notable things about candles, despite the fact that they appear to be fairly simple household items. One of them is the fact that candles are made up of only two major parts (the wax and the wick), which work in tandem in order to provide the soft glow of a candle’s flame.
Another interesting thing about candles is how it operates. Candles operate on the simple principle of combustion, which means that oxygen and fuel have to be present before the candle’s flame can be produced and sustained. But exactly how much oxygen does a candle consume?
WHY ARE CANDLES SO IMPORTANT?
Candles are actually very important items, because they have managed to carve a niche for themselves. This social space occupied by candles may seem small and insignificant but this is actually not the case, since candles are currently the only unique items that fit that niche perfectly. Sure there are now other sources of indoor illumination (compared to the hundreds and thousands of years that predated the invention of the electric light bulb), but none of those other sources have the same unique composition and properties that candles have. Even in the realm of aromatherapy, there are other items and tools apart from scented candles that also provide the same function. However, scented candles are much preferred for some reason.
Some of the reasons why candles are so important include the following:
- Candles are great historical symbols
This is an age where vintage items have considerable value, and what could be more “vintage” than candles i.e. items that have been made for several thousands of years?
While most candles that are purchased regularly were not made millennia ago, there is something undeniable about candles that strike a familiar chord, because we know that they were used thousands of years ago.
The long history of candles stretches beyond their ancient use in the provision of indoor illumination. It also encapsulates the usage of candles in the church and in other religions and religious activities. Beyond this, the sight of candles and the mere fact that they have not faded into extinction today, is an undeniable sign of historical resilience that somehow manages to touch people’s hearts, and create a certain nostalgic factor.
- Candles are very elegant decorative items
There is something very elegant about the usage of candles in décor and the beautification of a living space. The setting of candles in elegant candlesticks also goes a long way in enhancing this factor of elegance; thereby making candles very suitable decorative pieces. For this reason, candles make very suitable décor pieces, particularly in the corners of halls, and on dining tables.
- Candles are used in aromatherapy
The rise of aromatherapy is one of the reasons why candles are becoming rather popular in recent times. Scented candles (the main type of candles used in the field of aromatherapy) are made when fragrances and perfumes – typically in the form of plant-based essential oils – are deliberately added to melted, liquid candle wax and mixed into it (during the process of candle making).
Billions of dollars are made in the sale of scented candles, every year, because of the role they play in the field of aromatherapy (where the inhalation of these plant-based essential oils are used in treating ailments and conditions such as stress, anger, and physical injuries. Aromatherapy is also a great tool for aiding relaxation, easing anxiety and for other related conditions).
HOW DO CANDLES BURN?
One of the most important questions people ask about candles is how they burn. It is a very fascinating process, even though it is actually rather simple. Candles burn the same way everything burn. Oxygen and a volatile compound interact and ignite in order to form fire, which catches onto the candle’s wick and produces heat and light (as all fires do, even tiny ones, like a candle’s flame). This phenomenon is known as combustion, and it is a very important process in life. It is even used in the running of vehicles and machines, because it produces energy (usually in the form of light and heat). Other results of combustion, which have no determinable use, and are often given off as byproducts include materials like; steam, soot and gases like toluene, benzene etc (in the form of paraffin wax candles).
Another important thing to note about the way candles burn is that the upward direction of the flame is not a coincidence. A candle’s flame will always aspire to burn upward, regardless of how you situate or place the candle (and this has to do with the fact that hot air rises, and all the other natural principles that guide combustion as a whole).
HOW MUCH OXYGEN DOES A CANDLE CONSUME?
When people come to know that candles require oxygen to burn (much like every other form of fire), one of the things they tend to wonder next is, “How much oxygen does a candle consume?”
Candles require very little oxygen to burn, which is why they can make do with the amount of oxygen floating around in the atmosphere (it should be noted that oxygen in its pure form, or undiluted oxygen, is actually a very flammable gas that should be kept far apart from any source of fire; in order to prevent the risk of explosion and fire outbreak). Still, it would be great to be able to determine exactly what amount of oxygen is needed by a candle, in order for it to burn well.
Some experts in the field have conducted experiments that prove that the amount of oxygen consumed by a candle may depend on the time used in burning the candle (and sometimes, the weight of the candle). For instance, some scientists claim that a candle weighing 200 g, which burns for 5 hours, is likely to consume the amount of oxygen present in 30 liters of air. Others say that if a candle’s flame extinguishes by itself, it proves that the amount of oxygen available to it is not sufficient to sustain it (for whatever reason).