Science Projects And Candle Making
Part II

By Bob Sherman

This article is an addendum to my Science Projects And Candle Making article. It provides a bit more information and more details.

All Candles Are Not The Same
Aside from the obvious differences (size, shape, color, fragrance and type), candles vary in many ways that are not obvious or visible to the eye. Wax formulas are a mixture of complex hydrocarbons. Additionally, each batch of wax manufactured varies slightly, and can vary more between different manufacturers. This is further complicated by candle manufacturers using different base waxes, different formulations, etc... There are no standards for this type of thing.

How Does This Affect Us?
For science projects you want only one variable. This means that the candles must be identical except for this variable for the results to be valid.

The only way to make sure you have a bunch of identical candles is to make them yourself. See our free instruction index to learn more.

If you choose not to make your own, your results may not be as accurate but in many cases will be good enough (note that some experiments are just not possible with store bought candles). Should you choose to purchase the candles the following guidelines should be followed:

Project Ideas
The following projects are most popular:

Does Color Affect Burn Time?

This is probably the simplest project possible.
Materials - A selection of candles identical in all but color.
Procedure - Burn candles and time how long they last.
All Burning Safety precautions should be followed.
The most accurate results will be obtained by making the candles yourself and using identical amounts of dye in each.

Does Dye Work Better Than Pigment In Candles?

This is a fairly simple project, but you will need to make the candles yourself.
Materials - A selection of candles made with dye, and a selection of candles made with an equal amount of pigments in the same colors.
Procedure - Burn candles and time how long they last.
All Burning Safety precautions should be followed.
Observations - How does the color compare? How well did they burn? How long did they burn? The most accurate results will be obtained by using identical amounts of dye and pigment in each

Does Dye Quantity Affect Candle Burn Time?

This is a fairly simple project, but you will need to make the candles yourself.
Materials - A selection of candles made with varying amounts of dye - all the same color.
Procedure - Burn candles and time how long they last.
All Burning Safety precautions should be followed.
Observations - How well did they burn? How long did they burn?
The most accurate results will be obtained by using one dye color in a wide variety of concentrations.

Does Wick Size Affect Candle Burn Time?

This is a fairly simple project, but you will need to make the candles yourself. Wicks are available in a large variety of diameters.
Materials - A selection of candles made with wicks of varying diameters. They should be identical in all other respects.
Procedure - Burn candles and time how long they last.
All Burning Safety precautions should be followed.
Observations - How well did they burn? How long did they burn? Did some go out? Flicker a lot?
The most accurate results will be obtained by wide variety of wick diameters in candles that are identical.

Does Hardener Affect Candle Burn Time?

This is a slightly more advanced project. You will need to make the candles yourself. Hardeners are typically used to improve the burning properties of candles. Stearic acid is the most readily available hardener, and is well suited for use in this project.
Materials - A selection of candles made with varying amounts of hardener. The standard usage for stearic is 4 Tablespoons per pound. Candles should be made with no stearic, 1 tablespoon, 2 tablespoons, 3 tablespoons, 4 tablespoons, 5 tablespoons, 6 tablespoons, 7 tablespoons, and 8 tablespoons Per pound of wax. They should be identical in all other respects.
Procedure - Burn candles and time how long they last.
All Burning Safety precautions should be followed.
Observations - How well did they burn? How long did they burn? Did some go out? Flicker a lot?Was flame size affected by the amount of hardener?

Does Candle Temperature Affect Burn Time?

This is a more advanced project.
Materials - A selection of small candles. They should be identical in all other respects.
Procedure - Candles should be chilled or warmed until you have a variety of temperatures for the experiment. They should be at least 10 degrees apart at the start of the experiment. Burn candles and time how long they last.
All Burning Safety precautions should be followed.
Observations - How well did they burn? How long did they burn? Did some go out? Flicker a lot? Was flame size affected?

Summary

Just some final instructions here:

  1. DO NOT send me email asking for data on any of these concepts. I don't have any, and don't know of any that has been published. I will ignore any questions of this type. I will also ignore any questions about burning properties of colored wax - the answer is in the FAQ. Or even better - actually do the experiment and get your answer. I am not trying to be obnoxious here, but my job description does not include supplying answers to your science homework - questions of this type just waste my time.
  2. DO contact me (use the FAQ link on the Navigation bar to the left) if you have actual candle making questions - that is questions about how to actually make candles which are not covered in my free course or other instructions.
  3. DO follow all the safety rules if you make or burn candles.
  4. DO get parental permission and assistance if you are under 18 years old.
  5. DO select a project suited to your age and ability.

 

Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common candle making practices as of the time of this writing. The origins of this article were written in the late 1990's and it has been updated over the years including major changes in January 2006 and June 2011. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.

Author: Bob Sherman

Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.

This article is provided free of charge for use. Candles may be made and sold using this design royalty free, however no portion of this article may be reproduced for publication elsewhere without express permission from Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc. with the following exceptions: