Everyone occasionally gets a candle or two that they have no use for. Maybe the scent is wrong. Maybe you're all stocked up for candles already. But now, you can get a bunch of those candles and make them into a giant fireball — and you can never have too many of those.


It's not anyone's fault that we accumulate candles as gifts. There are social occasions of all kinds which require that we give gifts to near-strangers. Every giver knows they're not qualified for that, and that the receiver will feel obligated to keep the gift, or at least obligated to keep the gifter from knowing they disposed of it. As a result we give gifts that are disposable in and of themselves. Food runs the risk of being completely thrown away. Booze might be inconvenient if the receiver is an alcoholic, or lives with one. Candles are inoffensive, and everyone has occasional power outages.

The problem is, nobody has that many power cuts — and so we often end up acquiring many, many candles. Good thing there's an experiment with which we can get rid of a few of them. Spectacularly. All it takes is a fire, a bucket, a few candles, some water, and - I cannot stress this enough - a giant space in which nothing whatsoever will burn. And make sure it's not just horizontal space. Ideally, you would get in a giant, non-flammable biodome for this, so that there is nothing above or around that can catch fire. And then bring a fire extinguisher anyway.

Build a small fire and suspend a bucket over it. Chuck in a few candles and melt them. Eventually the wax will heat to the point where it catches fire. Throw in some water. The entire arrangement will go from a bit of flaming wax in a bucket to a giant pillar of fire.

How did adding water manage to do that? Generally, water puts out a fire. It has to do with how candles burn. Although the string wick of a candle is obviously flammable, that's not what's burning. The wax gets drawn up the wick, catches fire, and disperses in the air. The tiny particles of wax that caught fire create a small ball of flame. Water is denser than wax, and so when you through it in the bucket, it will get under the melted wax. There it will be heated so quickly that it will evaporate, and expand rapidly into steam. As it expands it lifts the wax along with it. Now you've got a candle situation in macro. The water lifts a lot of tiny wax particles and spreads them around the air above the bucket. They all catch fire and suddenly there's a giant pillar of flaming wax particles.


Again, don't do this in an enclosed space, or anywhere where things might catch fire. Possibly the best place would be a small rock in the middle of the sea. Do not do what they did in the video. How other people choose to toy with the lives of children is no concern of yours.

Top Image: Wjlonien



Via Mad Physics