Where do burned candles go?


I know this sounds like a silly question but when a candle bought at Yankee Candle burns away, and the jar is empty, is there a waxy coating on the walls of my room? Would one eventually over the years, be able to notice the waxy coating in the room? Are we breathing in wax while the candles burning? I have a lot of questions just like a five-year-old LOL. Someone please help.

In: Chemistry

Candles create air movement around it. Because it’s hot, the air around it rises, and is replaced by cooler air below it which then gets hot and rises over and over. The soot of the candle wax is carried up and away until it just settles again. You’d probably see it as dust. It’s not waxy after it is burned. So if you’re cleaning that room, and wiping things down, you’ll get most of it.

The wax is burned as fuel. Modern candle wax is a fairly efficient fuel, leaving only fine dust-like ash. The wick is less efficient at burning, but it‘s function is to carry liquid wax to the flame.

As u/GenXCub said, you‘d see the residue in the area as dust. The wick may leave a smoldered carcass in the jar, but that‘s not what the spirit of the question is.

The same place wood goes, which is into the air. But unlike wood, when wax burns the vast majority of it turns into carbon dioxide and water vapor. Which is why you don’t need a chimney. If they burned perfectly there would be no soot at all, but carbon tends to clump around the fringes of the flame. Theres a great xkcd about this. Maybe a better redditor than me can find it.

Burning is actually a chemical reaction between the wax and the air. There’s lots of different materials that can burn but the vast majority of the ones we use are pretty much [this reaction](https://www.thoughtco.com/thmb/2uaaTWnUH6aQFr6GD_UmfDsBsuk=/1500×1000/filters:fill(auto,1)/methanecombustion-58e3e6005f9b58ef7e0daa10.jpg).

Hydrocarbons (molecules that are mostly carbon and hydrogen) react with molecules of oxygen to transform into heat and carbon dioxide (carbon and oxygen) and water (hydrogen and oxygen). Candle wax is made up of long chains of hydrocarbons which take the place of CH4 in the picture. Once the wax has been burned it doesn’t exist anymore as wax, it’s been broken down into CO2 and water vapor, just gasses in the air.

Did you just have a power outage too?