Candles are very simple tools of illumination that have been around for thousands of years. In their own right, candles have undergone evolution. This evolution is very apparent in the properties of the different kinds of materials which have been used in candle-making over thousands of years. Some of the most popular materials used for making candle waxes in ancient times were fats from animals including sheep and whales. However, nowadays, we use petroleum-based paraffin wax. Another thing that has changed is the use of candles. Hence, asides illumination, candles can also be used majorly in aromatherapy.
THE EFFECT OF LOCATION ON BURNING CANDLES
The location of burning candles often affects how well they burn. There are many reasons for this, however, the most important ones are the effect of breeze, wind and any other form of moving air on the ability of candles to burn well.
Moving air affects flames by providing a force which can put off a candle outright or make it harder to burn. In instances where candles are burning near a draft or a strong wind, there are several things which can happen asides the candle going out as a result of the power of the wind. In this kind of situation, the candle will tend to burn faster and produce more soot than usual. This may then lead to the darkening of the container or candle holder. Also, such a disturbance will usually have an effect on the stability of the flame, thus increasing the chances of the flame getting onto things like curtains; as this can result in a fire outbreak.
Also, the location of a candle in a room has a lot of effects on the lifespan of the candle. Normally, candles can burn for about 4 – 8 hours, depending on their type, weight and size. When candles are placed near windows, air conditioners or other places where the burning of their flames can be interfered with by moving air, they may tend to burn faster. This is because the flame from the candle may expend a lot more energy in order to burn and sometimes, wind interference may make the flames higher than usual since it is producing more soot. Also, the candle may begin to burn wrong. What happens in this case is that, rather than burning evenly, the candle may only burn at the sides or only the middle part may burn.
THE PROPER WAYS TO POSITION A CANDLE IN A ROOM
A candle can be positioned in a number of ways inside a room, depending on the type of room and where other features such as air-conditioners, fans and windows are. However some of the basic rules which may affect the way a candle should be placed in a room are:
- Candles should be kept away from sources of ventilation
Proper ventilation is something that should be taken into account whenever candles are to be lit. This is because a burning candle uses up oxygen – in order to sustain its flames – and when it returns, it gives off other gases which do not support combustion. Ventilation comes into play by providing the candle with oxygen which it requires for combustion. It also provides a medium through which the emitted vapors and gases from candles can escape.
Also, sources of ventilation such as fans, windows and air conditioners provide a constant stream of moving air which can be forceful at times. Strong winds from windows can put off a candle, and even when that does not happen, it can make a flame burn higher than usual, thus resulting in an increased production of soot which occurs due to incomplete combustion. Asides this, strong winds or drafts can lead to the improper melting of candle wax, as the flames can usually get bent in one direction under the force of strong breeze. In this instance, the candle may end up melting on only one side or tunneling may occur; in which case only the centermost part of the candle will burn fast while all other parts burn more slowly. The effect of tunneling is that the candle-wax will be exhausted faster than usual. This is why candles should not be lit and placed too close to windows, fans, air-conditioners and other sources of air.
- Candles should not be kept too close to curtains and similar items
Candles should not be placed too close to curtains, clothes, paper and other items which can easily catch fire. As a matter of fact, any individual who has lit a candle must factor in the effects of strong winds which can knock the candle over, and make sure that there are no clothes or other articles that can easily catch fire near it. This is to reduce the risk of a fire outbreak.
Also, candles should not be lit near highly inflammable objects such as gas cylinders and lighter re-fillers. This will go a long way in preventing the outbreak of fire.
- Candles should not be kept too close to beds
Lit candles provide illumination with the use of flames, and when these flames burn, they use up oxygen and give off other gases which neither support respiration or combustion. Some of these gases which are emitted should not be inhaled in large quantities as they may have negative effects on the respiratory system. These negative effects include allergic reactions and an increased risk of respiratory problems. This is because some types of candles can contain constituents to which certain individuals are allergic. Also, the vapours from candles can worsen the symptoms of respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Also, the concentrated vapor emissions from scented candles can lead to nausea, among other side effects. Furthermore, since flames from candles can only burn with the aid of oxygen, they have the capacity to diminish the oxygen supply in a closed room (especially one where there is no source of ventilation). Thus, candles should not be kept too close to beds, particularly at night when the person who has lit them has fallen asleep. Another reason for this is that unsupervised candles can constitute a serious fire risk.