Candles have long been associated with Christmas. The first Christmas tree lights were candles and there are all sorts of varieties and scents on sale in the lead up to the festive season.

Christmas candles: the best scented candles for the festive season

Burning a candle is just like burning any fuel. The fuel, in this case the wax of the candle, combines with oxygen from the air to produce carbon dioxide and water vapour and give out light and heat.  Because energy is being given out, this is an example of an exothermic reaction.  The word equation for the reaction is:

wax + oxygen -> carbon dioxide + water

Although release in minuscule amounts, it must be remembered that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which can contribute to climate change.

But why do we associate candles with Christmas?  The association is so long-held that no one is quite sure where it originated.    Christians are not the only religion to use candles during their winter festival – the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists and the modern winter festival of Kwanzaa all have an association with candles and candle light.

Please remember though, that candles should never be left unattended as they can cause fires.

Until next time, keep calm and apply some Science!

Read more:

Candle Science

Candles, combustion, and waxes