The Science of the Candle Wick
candle’s wick is the pipeline that feeds the melted wax vapor
to the flame by capillary action. Initially the heat of the flame
melts the wax at the top of the candle, once the melt pool is formed
the molten wax is then drawn to the flame by the capillary action
of the wick. Once the wax reaches the wick a chemical reaction occurs
between the vaporized hydrocarbons and the oxygen in the air.
When you take a look at the candle’s
flame you will notice that the flame is nearly
invisible near the wick and a yellow luminous zone surrounds
it. It is near the wick that the wax vapors
are breaking down releasing hydrogen and as
a result, long unsaturated carbon chains are formed. These
carbon chains are actually tiny particles of soot.
It is these tiny soot particles that burn and release
the yellow light of the candles’ flames. If there
is enough oxygen and not too much wax vapor being
created at the wick, the soot particles are completely
burned up in the flame and the candle releases only heat, light, water
and carbon dioxide. If there isn’t enough oxygen
and too much vapor the flame is going to release
the soot and not fully combust causing the wick to bloom (mushroom).