Millions of people around the world appreciate candles in their homes. Some people prefer candlelight during the dark hours of the evenings while other people enjoy the aromas that the variety of scented candles can offer.
While many people are well aware of the threat that the open flame of a candle can bring to the house, not a lot of people realize that candles can be quite dangerous if they are left unattended.
Of course, many people are aware that there is some caution that must be taken when lighting a candle. It is important not to let flammable objects near the flame of the candle but at the same time, you need to take care and pay attention to the wax of the candle.
Candle wax, while it might seem safe in a lot of ways, still needs to be treated with the same care that you would treat any other flammable object.
This begs the question of whether or not candle wax can catch on fire. If it can, how do you minimize the risk of it happening and what can you do to protect yourself and your candle?
Is it Possible for Candle Wax to Catch Fire?
The short answer to this is that yes, candle wax can catch on fire and it can be incredibly dangerous when it does.
The truth is that while the wick of a candle is absolutely flammable, it is not necessarily what is burning in most candles. What fuels the flame of a candle is actually the wax. With the way that candles are made, the wax is slowly drawn into the wick.
The wax that was drawn into the burning wick will then catch fire, which will keep the candle flame going until it is blown out or until there is no more wax left to burn and it is time for the candle to be disposed of.
This means that by the nature of the fact that candles last as long as they do because they are burning the wax, the candle wax is indeed flammable.
For example, when you look at a candle that has been moderately or lightly used, you will notice a dent around the wax surrounding the candle. This little dip in the wax is not caused by the wax melting away into nothing but it is actually a sign of the wax that has been absorbed into the flame, fueling it.
It is also a large reason why the wicks of candles tend to last so long; the fire is not fueled by burning the wick of the candle so much as it is fueled by the candle wax.
The Danger of Wax Fires
Wax fires, whether they are caused by candle wax or another form of wax, are known for being incredibly dangerous. Wax fires can be caused by dousing boiling wax with water and this is one of the biggest reasons why you should never try to put out a candle with any source of water.
Wax fires are dangerous not only because of how massive they can become when the water is poured onto them but because they cannot be put out with water. The way that this works is that water is much denser than candle wax.
This means that it will sink to the bottom of the candle container if you try to pour water over the flame. Because the wax has reached a burning temperature, the water will vaporize almost instantaneously, assuming that there is a flame going.
As the water shifts from a liquid to a gas, it expands well over one thousand times in volume and it expands violently. When this happens, it throws the burning wax layer above it out into the surrounding area in the form of tiny little melted droplets.
Because of the way fire works, these burning wax droplets will now have access to more oxygen than they did when inside the candle, meaning that they will combust quickly and spread the fire further.
If you have a candle that you need to put out, you should use an object known as a candle snuffer, which is specifically designed to put out candle fires without leading to a wax fire.
While most people blow out the candles and don’t give much thought to it, this can actually be very dangerous as it has the chance of spreading sparks, especially with lower-quality wicks.
Preventing Wax Fires and “Candle Explosions”
Because of the explosive nature of wax fires, it is sometimes called a “candle explosion” when someone accidentally spills water onto a burning candle. It is important to know what you can do to prevent these things from happening to your home as they can become incredibly devastating in a matter of seconds.
First things first; you should remember never, ever to try to put out a candle using water. You should use a candle snuffer or blow the candle out. The candle should not be in a position where it can even encounter drops of water, such as in the shower.
If you enjoy having a candle in your shower, you should light the candle when all the steam has dispersed and there is no threat of water touching the burning wax.
From here, you should try to take preventative measures wherever you can. To prevent wax fires, you should make sure that the candles you own are not near water sources, even accidental ones. There are many guides and instructions on finding the best places to put candles in the house while prioritizing your own safety.
You should make sure as well that there are no flammable objects near the burning flame of the candle when you are planning on preventing a candle fire. While you can’t really keep the wax away from the flame given the design of candles, you can make sure that anything and everything you need to quench a candle fire quickly is nearby and within reach.
Being mindful and respectful of candles and their flames is going to be the best way that you protect yourself and your house. Now you know that you should never try to put out a candle with water because wax is, in fact, flammable.
I have two Associate’s degrees, one in Medical Assisting and the other in Computer Technician, and I am roughly five classes from a bachelor’s degree. Though I never ended up working in the medical field, I have five and a half years of experience in IT. I recently became a stay-at-home mom to my two young boys, and I’m so excited to start this adventure with them! In my spare time, I love to bake and read pretty much anything I can get my hands on.