Is Candle Wax Melting A Chemical Change?

Updated on December 9, 2022

Table of Contents

Is A Candle Burning A Chemical Change?

Candles are used for relaxation, meditation, and spiritual purposes. Candles are made using various types of waxes, including paraffin wax, soy wax, beeswax, and coconut oil.

Paraffin wax is the most common type of wax used to make candles. Candle wax, commonly known as paraffin, is made up of hydrogen- and carbon-surrounded chains of connected carbon atoms.

Burning is a chemical reaction and a chemical change, as opposed to evaporation. The wax molecules are altering chemically, reacting with an element in the air to transform into new molecules.

The following characteristics distinguish chemical change from physical change: C nH2n+1 + O2 CO2 + H2O + Heat + Light The heat released is responsible for additional wax evaporation, which results in more combustion and generation of carbon dioxide, water vapors, as well as more heat and light. The first element to react with air is hydrogen, which produces water vapor, followed by carbon burns to produce carbon dioxide.

A candle flame flicker is created when air flows across the hot surface of the candle. Air molecules collide with the hot surface of the wax, causing friction. Friction creates heat, which causes the air molecules to expand.

The flame is actually burning inside the candle. The flame heats the bottom of the candle, causing the wax to melt. The molten wax rises toward the top of the candle with a teardrop-shaped flame because of gravity. The rising wax forms a pool of molten wax at the top of the candle.

These characteristics demonstrate that candle burning cannot result in a physical change, but wax melting during candle burning is a physical change. Candles burn using the principle of combustion in the presence of oxygen, where the wax vaporizes due to capillary action and the nature of reaction with oxygen from the air to produce the formation of carbon dioxide and water vapors.

It is possible to initially see the flickering of flame while burning a candle since it takes some time for the combustion to stabilize. Although the specific equation for wax combustion varies depending on the type of wax utilized, all equations have a similar overall structure.

What Exactly Is A Chemical Change?

A chemical change occurs when atoms rearrange themselves to form a new compound. You may not think of candles as being very exciting, but there are actually lots of interesting chemical changes happening inside them.

Candles are made up of several components including paraffin wax, soybean oil, beeswax, fragrance oils, colorants, and scents. Paraffin wax is a waxy substance that melts at room temperature. Soybean oil is used to soften the wax and give it flexibility.

Beeswax is added to the mixture to add strength and durability. Fragrance oils are added to scent the candles. Colorants are added to give the candles their specific appearance. And scents are added to give the candle its unique smell.

Chemical Vs Physical Change

A physical change occurs when there is a permanent alteration to the object being changed. A chemical change happens when there is a temporary alteration to the object being altered.

For example, if you pour water onto a piece of paper, the paper becomes wet. However, if you heat the paper, the paper changes color permanently. On the other hand, if you add salt to the water, the water turns salty temporarily.

Is A Burning Candle An Exothermic Or Endothermic Reaction?

A burning candle is an exothermic reaction. It produces heat as a result of the combustion process. However, if you place a lit candle next to the ice, it won't melt the ice. Instead, it will cause the ice to evaporate.

An endothermic reaction doesn't produce any form of heat at all. It only causes the temperature of the object to decrease. For example, placing a hot cup of coffee next to ice will not cause the ice to melt. Instead, it will cool down the coffee.

For example, if you place a hot cup of coffee near the ice, the ice will cool down the coffee, causing its temperature to drop. You can calculate the mass of the ice and the coffee by multiplying the volume of the ice times the density of the ice times the volume of the coffee.

Combustion Of Candle Wax

Combustion of candle wax occurs when the wick ignites the melted wax. Combustion is the process of burning fuel to produce energy. A flame is simply hot gases being released from a source of ignition. Once the wick ignites, the wax combusts and creates a form of heat.

The heat causes the water molecules to evaporate and form steam. The steam is composed of water vapor, which is lighter than air, and oxygen, which is heavier than air. Because the steam is lighter than air, it rises and escapes through the chimney.

Combustion is a natural occurrence that happens every day without us knowing it. We breathe out carbon dioxide, which is converted into water vapor and oxygen. These two elements combine to form steam, which rises and leaves the body through the mouth and nose.

Wax Combustion Equation

Candle wax melts at approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you place a piece of paper on top of the melted wax, it will burn at a lower temperature. Why? Because the heat transfer between the two materials is reduced due to the presence of the paper.

This phenomenon is known as the Wax Combustion Equation. You can use this knowledge to your advantage when designing candles. By placing a layer of paper on top of your candle, you reduce the surface area exposed to the flame. As a result, the candle burns slower and cooler.


Candles burn at temperatures between 400°F and 1,000°F. At those high temperatures, there is no doubt that candles produce heat. However, does burning a candle actually cause a chemical change?

There are two types of reactions that occur during combustion: exothermic and endothermic. While endothermic processes take energy, exothermic reactions release it.

During combustion, the flame heats the surrounding air, causing the air molecules to vibrate faster. As a result, the air becomes warmer.

This increased temperature causes the air molecules to collide with oxygen atoms, releasing energy. This process is called oxidation. Oxidation produces carbon dioxide gas, water vapor, nitrogen oxide gases, and various organic compounds. These chemicals are released into the atmosphere through the smoke produced by the candle.

Smell is one of the human senses which can flow through the whole body. I am the Founder of where we talk all about scented candles. Known as Candace the Candle Girl, I know pretty much all there is to know about scented candles. I make and sell them on Etsy and Ebay - so be sure to ask if you have any burning questions :) (pun intended ;) )

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