Was your candle burning again after you were sure you blew it out? Did you see someone do a cool party trick where they lit the candle smoke and the candle started burning again? I have done a lot of research into this interesting phenomenon and here are my findings. Can a candle relight itself?
Candles can relight themselves through one of the following ways. One, the wick is hot enough to reignite from a draft or breeze. The second is that it comes in contact with the flammable wax vapor upon being extinguished. The vapor is what we view as smoke.
You may have seen someone do that before at a party, blow out a candle, and then hold a flame to the smoke and then the candle relights itself. This is not magic, the smoke is actually a flammable wax vapor being emitted from the wick.
The wick is not actually what burns in a candle. Think of it like this, a gas heater has a pilot light that ignites the gas when you turn the stove on. That is what a wick does for the candle. The wick is the pilot light and the wax is the gas that actually burns.
Wind Or Breeze
If your wick had a ember on it that remained hot enough, the candle could reignite itself just from a slight breeze or wind. Perhaps even what is created when you walk away from the candle.
This is similar to what happens when you watch someone try to build a fire from scratch. They blow on the embers in order to get them to ignite and start burning a flame.
Blowing on the embers provides more oxygen availability that can help form the flame. This is essentially what a slight breeze can do to your candle.
In addition, the hot flammable wax vapor is already present in the area. This is giving you fuel, oxygen, and heat. The perfect recipe for a flame. Greatly increasing the possibility of a candle relighting itself.
You can actually buy trick candles that are designed for candles to relight after they have been blown out. They are a great way to prank someone. If you are interested in seeing more about these trick candles here is a link to some on amazon.
According to the reviews some cakes have been ruined by trick candles that would not go out at all, so be careful with this one. If it was my birthday and my cake got wax all over it I would be super angry.
This is one you see sometimes at parties. Someone will blow out a candle and then hold their lighter to the smoke and suddenly the candle will relight itself. As we went over above, this is because the smoke is not smoke, it is actually flammable wax vapor.
You can find lots of videos of this one on YouTube. Perhaps it is something you can pull out at the next family get together.
Now that we know candles can relight themselves through the flammable wax vapor, and through embers catching a breeze. Let’s discuss how this can be the cause of a miracle candle lighting someone may have seen.
I have heard this story a few times from someone that took it as a sign or an omen of some sort that something was going to happen. It is the kind of thing you hear from a friend that heard it from their friend and so on.
In many religious settings and ceremonies, candles are often used in close proximity. This is the perfect situation for candles to relight themselves or light each other. Now you see how this is possible through the flammable wax vapor that an extinguished candle emits.
You are sure that you blew the candle out, or you are sure that it was burning when you woke-up in the middle of the night, but it was not burning in the morning. Our memory is a funny thing and sometimes we get what are known as false memories.
Memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus has found through her research that memories can change, becoming stronger, more vivid, and inaccurate as time goes on. You can play something back in your head that you are sure that happened over and over, but it never did.
Have you ever lost something that you were sure you put it in a specific place but it was nowhere to be seen? False memory. It might be hard to believe but everyone has these memories and they happen more often than you might think.
So it is just a possibility that you did not see what you think you saw or you are just remembering it differently than it actually happened.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does a blown out candle relight itself?
A blown out candle can relight itself just from the residual heat of the wick if a draft is feeding it oxygen. When you blow a candle out you will often see a glowing ember that has the potential to relight the candle under the right conditions. In addition, the “smoke” emitted from a blown out candle is flammable.
Why does the candle ignite even faster in the smoke trail?
The smoke trail is actually heated wax particles evaporating from the hot wick. Wax is the fuel that feeds a candle’s flame so that smoke trail is flammable. That allows the candle to relight itself very quickly.
In conclusion, we have seen a few different ways a candle can relight itself. Whether it is from wind, wax vapor, tricks, or our memories fooling us I think one thing is certain.
When using candles and burning candles we all need to be vigilant and make SURE that a candle is out when we are leaving a room or going to bed. Blow it out and wait a little bit and put the lid back on it. It is not going to reignite with a lid on it and you will be able to rest easy knowing there is no risk of a candle fire.
In this regard, I am almost obsessive compulsive in my routine when blowing a candle out. I will blow it out and then pick the candle up and look at it. When the wax is beginning to harden again I will put the candle back down and put a lid on it.
It does not take as long as you think for wax to start getting thick again, but honestly I do this more because I am afraid my three-year-old will get a hold of it and do something than I am the candle relighting itself.