Whether coloured candles burn faster than white candles is a question that has been getting asked more and more frequently recently. There are increasing numbers of YouTube videos dedicated to the subject, not to mention a multitude of science fair projects attempting to answer the question once and for all. There are contrasting theories, with one being that white candles are purer and thus take longer to burn, with the additional dyes in coloured candles helping to fuel their faster burn time. Another theory is that coloured candles burn longer because of the dye.
The conflicting ideas most likely stem from the various experiments folks have conducted having thrown up contradictory results, with some declaring coloured candles the faster burners while others declare white candles are faster. These contradictions are to be expected when you understand the real reasons behind the burn times of candles.
The Real Reasons Behind Candle Burn Times
In reality, the amount of dye used to create the majority of coloured candles is actually extremely small and unlikely to affect the burn time at all. It’s true that some candles feature far more dye than others, and these richly coloured candles may indeed burn a little faster due to the increase of heat that the dye ingredients create. But most coloured candles do not use enough dye for it to make any significant difference.
The truth is that any particular candle’s burn time will be mostly determined by the type of wax used in conjunction with the type of wick used. There are additional factors to consider as well, such as additives like wax hardeners, scent ingredients and even the age of the candle, which can all affect the burn time.
Wax Hardness Affects Burn Time
Additives like wax hardeners help a candle burn longer, as the softer the wax the faster it will burn down. Naturally softer wax such as soy wax will burn quicker than naturally harder waxes such as paraffin candles. Beeswax is also harder than soy wax, so again they will take longer to burn down than soy wax candles.
How Wicks Affect a Candle’s Burn Time
Wicks are lot more important to a candle’s burn time than they are often given credit for. Thick wicks will produce a larger, hotter flame and thus burn the candle quicker than a thin wick. The material of the wick will make a difference as well. Some wick material burns hotter and faster than others, so this can be a massive factor in determining a candle’s burn time.
Other Influences on Candle Burn Times
As well as the additives and additional ingredients such as those included in scented candles, the age of a candle will also affect the burn time as older candles dry out over time. The conditions of the room in which the candle is burning can also have a small effect on the burn time. A drafty room may cause the flame’s heat to disperse before it melts the wax as it normally would in a completely still environment.
Ultimately, a candle’s burn time is determined by a variety of factors, with its colour rarely being one of the most influential. Do let us know if you have noticed any other factors that help increase or decrease the burn time of your favourite candles.