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Effect of room temperature on the burn-rate of a candle burnsFeatured science projectScience project video

Abstract

Have you ever wondered whether a candle burns more quickly on a hot day, than on a cold day? Or is it the other way around? This science fair project was carried out to compare how quickly a candle will burn at different room temperatures. The experiment was done by measuring how much of a candle will melt in 30 minutes when placed in an environment with surrounding temperatures of 20C, 25C and 30C.

Hypothesis

A candle in a colder room will burn more slowly.

Scientific Terms

Paraffin wax, wick, capillary action, vaporized

Background

Candles

Candles are used to provide light when there is no electricity available or during power failures. Candles are also used to create a romantic setting at restaurants. Most candles are made of paraffin wax. Candles are also made from other types of materials such as soy wax, bee wax, plant wax or animal fat. The wax in a candle is used as fuel to keep the candle burning.

The wick used in a candle is an absorbent twine and must have strong capillary action. When the wick is lit, the wax around the wick will melt due to the heat of the flame. The capillary action of the wick will absorb the melted wax and pull it upwards. When the wax is exposed to the flame, it will vaporize and the wax vapor burns. The wick does not burn as quickly,  because the vaporizing wax will help to cool the temperature of the wick and protect it.

Candles are manufactured in various sizes, scents and colors. Some of the scents used in candles include flower scents, fruit scents, vanilla and even green tea. These scented candles are used in aromatherapy and spas. Candles are also used in religious ceremonies and of course, what's a birthday cake without candles?
 

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Complexity level:
5
Project cost ($):
10
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 4 hours for observation
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Take the necessary precautions when handling fire. Ensure that no flammable materials are placed near the candles during the experiment. Adult supervision required.