Why Do Wood Wicks Crackle?
Why do wood wicks crackle? This a question that is so often asked but rarely answered with any satisfaction. It doesn’t take much time once you get started making candles to realize it’s just as much science as it is creative!
The more you understand why your candles perform the way they do, the easier it will be for you to make changes to your formula. Things like adding a new fragrance, testing out an alternate wick, or experimenting with the percentage of additives in your wax blend.
With each component in candle making, there is so much to learn, but today we’ll stick with the one that’s our speciality…wooden wicks!
One of the questions we are asked over and over is:
“Why do wood wicks crackle?”
Have you ever had the pleasure of sitting around a warm open fire and listening to the soothing crackle sound it creates? Wood wicks create that same ambiance, though in mini-form and don’t require a fireplace to match!
So, what causes this magical crackling sound? Hold on tight, we’re about to get really science-y!
Where There’s Fire There’s Crackle
Our wooden wicks (and the trees we create them from) are made up of thousands of tiny, microscopic cells with walls called cellulose. During combustion, the cellulose is changing from a solid to a gas and this gas emission produces a flame. This requires heat.
When the temperature is not high enough, the gases dissipate with unburnt wood particles in the form of smoke.
So if you ever need to call in and speak with our fabulous customer service team because your wick won’t stay lit, just let us know the cellulose in your wood wicks isn’t hot enough to change to gas! We’ll be happy to help out with the solution.
Why do wood wicks crackle? Gas!
As the cellulose in your wood wicks changes states from solid to gas, gas molecules become trapped in between the pores of the wood. Simultaneously, the temperature is rising and the gas inside these pores is rapidly expanding. This is placing pressure on the cell walls that have not yet begun their transformation from solid to gas.
The expanding gas in conjunction with the weakening surrounding cellulose eventually results in a mini explosion as the cell walls rupture and the gas escapes. This chemical reaction is what causes the familiar crackling sound associated with our wood wicks.
If you’re looking to really impress your candle maker friends with your newfound scientific knowledge of why do wood wicks crackle, you can even drop the chemical equation for wood combustion into your next casual conversation: C6H12O6 + 6O2 –> 6CO2 +6H2O.
Thinking about making the switch to wooden wicks? Buy a Sample Kit today.
Photo by @north29candleco