From cosmetics to candles to paints, was is a staple in numerous industrial products and our daily necessities. Before you go ahead and buy some scented candles, you need to know if is wax flammable and whether it’s a potential fire hazard.
Wax is classified as ‘combustible’ by OSHA rather than ‘flammable’. Meaning wax needs more than 100°F of temperature to burn, which makes it a fire hazard that needs to be handled safely. When ignited, the wax starts melting and turns into highly flammable vapor.
However, the temperature at which wax starts melting depends on the type of wax and its chemical structure.
Let’s dive in and find out the flammability of wax and how to use it safely.
What Is Wax and How It Burns?
Wax is a solid combustible matter consisting of long chains of hydrocarbons. When ignited, the wax starts melting once the temperature reaches its flash point and slowly turns into vapor.
Then, the vaporized hydrocarbons react with the environmental oxygen and produce carbon dioxide, water vapor, and lots of energy in the form of light and heat. The reaction is called combustion, so the wax is considered a combustible material.
Is All Wax Flammable? − Properties, Flammability, and Flash Point
As you might know, there are different types of waxes categorized as natural, synthetic, or mixed sourced. Solid and liquid wax aren’t flammable but gaseous ones are.
However, various wax types have different properties, flash points, and flammability.
Here’s a brief discussion of the most common wax and its properties.
Paraffin Wax: Is Paraffin Wax Flammable?
Yes, paraffin wax is flammable (or combustible) when the temperature reaches its flash point at 390.2°F or 199°C. However, if paraffin wax is mixed with additives, it’s flammable at 480.2°F or 249°C.
This type of wax is collected from petroleum through the process of de-waxing light oil stocks. Although it’s colorless or white, paraffin wax takes scent and colors pretty well.
However, it burns quickly and contains harmful chemicals like acrolein and dioxin.
Beeswax: Is Beeswax Flammable?
Yes, Beeswax is one of the most flammable wax types as it has a low flash point of 212°F or 100°C. Beeswax is a 100% natural wax collected from honeycombs.
Beeswax is a mixture of many different chemicals, such as hydrocarbon, fatty acids, alcohols, and esters. Almost all of these chemicals are flammable. However, it’s completely safe to use Beeswax at room temperature.
Soy Wax: Is Soy Wax Flammable?
Yes, soy wax is combustible or flammable when heated at 450°F or 232°C. Natural soy wax is collected from soybean and refined in hydrogenated vegetable oil. It remains solid at room temperature and burns well when ignited.
As the process of collecting soy wax is complicated, it’s one of the most expensive types of wax. However, it’s fully natural and burns cleaner than paraffin wax.
Rapeseed Wax: Is Rapeseed Wax Flammable?
Yes, rapeseed oil will easily burn when heated over 400°F or 204.4°C. It’s a slow-burning wax that doesn’t create any toxic chemicals while burning. Collected from yellow rapeseed flowers, rapeseed wax is 100% natural.
It’s considered the best option to make scented candles as it holds the fragrance for a long time.
Coconut Wax: Is Coconut Wax Flammable?
Yes, coconut wax is a flammable hydrocarbon-containing solid that burns at 200°F or 93°C. Coconut wax is sourced from refined and hydrogenated coconut oil.
As it easily melts even at room temperature, rapeseed wax or soy wax is mixed with coconut oil to alter its melting point. It’s considered the most eco-friendly wax as it creates no smoke, toxic chemicals, or carbon residue while burning.
Can Candle Wax Catch on Fire?
Yes, all types of candle wax can catch on fire when the candle wick is ignited. However, if you try to burn the wax only, it won’t catch fire as the heat isn’t usually high enough to reach the flash point of the wax.
Candle wax consists of two parts: wick and solid wax. The wick is a braided cotton fiber placed in the middle of the candle.
As you ignite the wick, it quickly starts to burn and produces high heat (500°C or more). Therefore, the wax starts melting, and a part of it vaporizes.
When the vaporized wax comes in contact with fire or high heat, it starts burning and releasing water, energy, and carbon dioxide.
Candle Burning Safety: Dos and Don’ts
All types of wax are combustible, so you must follow some safety measures while burning candle wax at home.
According to the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA, around 2% of home fires were caused by candles between 2015 and 2019 in the United States.
Below are some guidelines suggested by the NFPA to ensure the safe burning of candles:
- Blow out all the wax candles before you leave the room or fall asleep. Avoid lighting up candles in your bedroom or other places where you sleep.
- Don’t place any flammable materials near the candle. If there’s any object that might burn, keep it at least 1 foot or 30 centimeters away from the burning candle.
- Place the candle on a sturdy holder so that it doesn’t tip over. Be sure to make the candle base strong and it’s placed on an uncluttered surface.
- Put your hair and clothing away from the flame. Be extra careful while lighting the candle.
- Avoid burning the whole candle. Blow it out before it reaches the surface.
- Don’t ever light up a candle if oxygen is used in or around the room.
- Never leave your kids alone with a burning candle. Keep the lighters and matches out of children’s reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
So, is wax flammable? Now you know the answer. Wax will only burn when the heat is over its flash point (200°F to 450°F). Also, liquid or solid wax doesn’t burn until they reach a gaseous form.
Once the wax has turned into a gas, it’s highly flammable. Since the gas is invisible, you need to be extra careful while burning wax at your house.
Follow the safety measures given above and everything should be fine.