Browsing Posts published in December, 2012

Do you look back to your youth, rosy-tinted glasses at the ready, and remember doing ‘science’ right there in your kitchen?

As a child, did you eagerly look forward to Christmas, and the promise of a chemistry set, with a certain tingling anticipation?

I know I did, but luckily for our household, Santa never brought me one.

Looking back in hindsight, I think my long-suffering parents made a 100% call here.  Goodness only knows what would have resulted in a six or seven year-old, loose with exciting stuff like acids and alkalies, litmus paper and test tubes.

As it was, they didn’t reckon with the inquisitive mind of an electrical nature, who quickly realised that behind those boring-looking three-pin sockets sat on the wall lay a whole world of fun.  Especially when said six or seven year-old replaced the 13 Amp fuse in the plug with a rusty nail, but, well, that’s another story for another day.  Suffice to say the family cat* eventually came round.

Earlier this week, I met with Mr Ward Senior, and amongst many other things, we discussed candles.  He asked me why I hadn’t brought him any to photograph, and I had to explain that every time we got some made, people came out to buy them from us.  Great for LEAF’s funds, but bad for photos!

We somehow got onto the topic of how thick the candle wick should be in relation to its overall diameter, and both agreed that it stood to reason that the fatter the candle, then the fatter the wick.  Makes sense, yeah?

Well today was an excellent time to try out our ‘theory’.  Diane and Southey Library had arranged for the first of two candle rolling sessions, where for a mere £1.00, members of  the public could come and give it a try.

Diane had bought all the supplies some days ago, amongst them different diameters of wicks and a guide as to which wick would fit a given diameter of candle.

So, my first effort today was a half-height, but double-thickness candle with standard wick that we had been using for most of our candles.  Luckily, I hadn’t lost my touch, and despite having to roll, in effect, double the amount of wax onto a single wick, it came out pretty well.

Then, I made the same candle, but this time using a much thicker wick.

So, I had two candles, each with the same amount of wax and the same size and height.  The only difference was the wick.

Eager to try them out, I hurried home, sat back here at my computer, and lit the pair of them simultaneously.

The results were, well, fascinating!

Okay, this wasn’t an entirely ‘scientific’ experiment (I didn’t wear the white coat and glasses, and didn’t have a clipboard or pen…), but not far from it.

It seems that the fatter the wick, the higher the flame burns.Candle Fun

Check out the photo to the right for proof.

You can quite clearly see that the flame on the left is the one with the thicker wick.

So, my initial thoughts were that because the flame is roughly twice the size of the other one, it would burn the wax up twice as fast as the one on the thinner wick

This, too, made sense, until I realised what was happening, and had to re-adjust my thinking somewhat.

While the one with the larger wick was taking the now molten wax up into that wick at twice the rate, the one on the right wasn’t.  But where was the excess wax going?

Aaaah.  The penny drops... When I blew them out, cleared the smoke and let them cool, the answer was obvious.

Because the smaller wick took up less molten wax to actually burn, there was an excess of molten wax, which inevitably dribbled over the sides.

Also notice that the thinner wick on the right hand side seems to be burned down further than the thicker wick on the left!

So, Dear Reader, it’s official.

If you’re looking to buy candles this year as part of your celebrations, then be sure to make sure your wick is as large a diameter as possible.  It’ll burn slower, and there’ll certainly be much less waste wax when the wick has burned down.

Who said learning couldn’t be fun?

 

* Actually, this is not strictly speaking correct.  …As I now remember, it was my little sister who bore the brunt of many of my early electrical experiments.  No.  To this day, we’re not very close.

 

 

Whoooops! 09/12/12

Okay, so once again, it’s been waaaaay too long since the last post went up, but that, Dear Reader, is because we’ve all be busier than my cat at both his food bowls.

“Busy?  With WHAT??” you shout.

Our valiant volunteers, and the ever-dependable Diane have been busy designing, creating – and certainly selling! – a range of 100% natural beeswax candles and accessories that have been flying off the shelves!

Here in North Sheffield and beyond, with it being nearly Christmas and all, there have been a number of local ‘Christmassy’-type events, designed to help our local purse-conscious shoppers, and of course, help funding for local groups and organisations.

Inspired by an event Diane and I attended a couple of months ago on the possible uses of natural beeswax, she and our volunteers have been busy rolling and decorating candles, many with a Christmas feel to them, and have been exhibiting and selling them to locals.  And they’ve been going down like a storm!

At these events, not only can people buy ready-made candles, but for a very small fee, can also have a go at making their own, with materials provided.

Hopefully, in just a few days, we’ll have examples of Diane’s, and our volunteers’, work up for sale here on the site.  I just have to sort out the payment system, and get some decent photos arranged.

Catch you soon!


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