Does Candle Wax Evaporate? – Candle Chemistry 101

Burning a candle is an excellent way of adding fragrance to your home. It does not matter the type of fragrance you opt for or the exact place you decide to place your candle. The house will feel cozier and relaxing with the fragrance you love. Of course, in the process, the wax slowly disappears, and the observer is left to wonder where it has gone.

Candle wax evaporates. When a candle burns, the wax decomposes into carbon dioxide and water. The carbon dioxide escapes in gaseous form. The water evaporates because of its proximity to the candle flame. Pooling occurs near the base of a candle because the flame is far from the bottom.

In the preceding sections, we’ll address some of the minutiae concerning candle wax and its lifecycle.

Where does candle wax disappear to?

The moment a candle begins to burn, most of its matter goes into the air. The heat and light from a candle come from the burning wax. When you light up the candle, the flames cause some of the wax to melt, flow and evaporate. What follows is the burning of the wax vapor. The wick that is made of cotton also burns, but most of the heat is generated by the wax.

What you see around the base of the candle are paddles from the wax that dripped down without burning fully.

Wax is made of carbon and hydrogen. When the candle is lit up, the carbon and hydrogen in it combine with oxygen in the air to become water vapor and carbon dioxide. The majority of the matter in the candle ends up as these two gases.

The candle wax turns into water and carbon dioxide. These two elements are not exactly safe. Too much of either of these can be dangerous. However, in low levels, they are normal elements of the air we breathe. The amount of the gases produced as a result of burning wax are small and not dangerous.

In case a candle is burned completely to the ground, every molecule from the wax may end up combining with oxygen to become water vapor and carbon dioxide. However, we are all aware that candles do not burn to perfection. Around the edges, about 0.1 percent of the mass of the candle is flung away before completely burning. These particles are responsible for the production of soot and smoke.

How long does it take for the wax to evaporate?

When you ignite a candle, the wick does not burn but what burns is the wax. The wick is usually coated in wax. When the flames start burning the candle, the wax flows up the wick to keep the flame going. This process results in the wax evaporating.

Once you light up your candle, the wax goes through a process where it transforms from solid to gaseous form when evaporating. Right from the moment you light the wick, the process starts and the wax begins to warm. The heat generated from the wick begins turning the solid candle wax into liquid. During the liquidation process, the wax moves up the wick via capillary action.

The moment the wax makes its way up through the wick, it gets heated more because it is in direct contact with the flame. Since it is now under increased heat, the wax gradually evaporates in a gaseous state.

The scientific explanation of this is quite exciting. Once the wax is brought up into the flame, a certain reaction occurs to enhance the change of state of the wax. The wax normally breaks up into molecules of carbon and hydrogen commonly known as hydrocarbons. It then reacts with the oxygen that is readily available in the air to generate light, heat, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Therefore, when the candle wax evaporates, it breaks down into the different elements as it gets into the atmosphere.

Since the wax evaporates upon getting to the flame, it will constantly hover around the candle for some time. If you blow out a candle, the smoke you see rising is candle wax in a gaseous state. The wax is specifically a big part of what is on fire as the candle burns.

In smaller candles that have smaller wicks will take about seven hours for the wax which is about 28 grams to completely evaporate. Larger candles that have larger wicks will consume wax at a much faster rate. The 28 grams of wax in them will evaporate in about five hours.

You can do a trick by extinguishing a candle and then bringing a lighter close to it and the extinguished candle will re-ignite.

Do you breathe in candle wax?

The candle wax that can also be referred to as paraffin, is composed of chains of connected carbon atoms that are surrounded by hydrogen atoms. The hydrocarbon molecules can burn to completion. The moment you light up a candle, the wax near the wick begins melting forming a liquid.

The reality is, you are unlikely going to inhale wax. When a candle is burning, the combustion process is extremely efficient. The elements released from the air are water and carbon dioxide. The moment you first light up the candle or if it is burning under unstable conditions, you may witness the flickering of the flame. A flickering flame may fluctuate the heat required for combustion. 

In case you see a wisp of smoke that is soot (carbon) that is a result of incomplete combustion. Wax that is vaporized also exists and can be visible right around the flame. However, it does not last for long or travels very far once the candle stops burning.

An interesting project to try out is extinguishing and candle and attempting to relight it from a distance with another flame. Try holding a lighter or a lit candle close to the freshly extinguished candle. You will watch the flame travel right along the wax vapor trial to relight the candle.

Does wax evaporate in a candle?

When you light up a candle, the solid wax slowly melts and the liquid wax gets drawn up the wick. As the candle gets hotter, the liquid wax begins to evaporate and transforms into gas. What follows is the gaseous wax burning in the oxygen in the air. The gaseous wax precipitates are left in the air after extinguishing the candle.

What temperature evaporates wax?

Candle wax begins melting at temperatures above forty degrees Celsius. Its boiling point, however, is above 370 degrees Celsius. Paraffin wax can be used in candles, electrical insulation, and lubrication.


Candles are great additions to our homes. They can be used to light up a room and make it romantic to fit the occasion. The question of where the wax goes is mind-blowing. This article has discussed the process of burning the candle and what happens to the wax as well.

Gene Botkin

Hello, I'm Gene. My family belonged to the aristocracy of Old Russia, and I created this site to re-establish a familial connection with them. My aims are to generate interest in aristocratic virtues, such as beauty, honor, and loyalty, and to spread Russian culture.

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