You know the basic answer to this, you've seen it happen. You light the candle and the wax melts away. But what is really happening when we burn our candles, and why is it so important that we make sure that the candles we bring into our homes are non-toxic?
So where does the wax go when you're burning your candle? When you light your wick, the wax heats up until it starts to melt, and when it starts to melt it is soaked up by the wick and then evaporates into the air. This happens because wax is composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms (hydrocarbons), and this is true of every type of wax. Why does a candle flame stutter and smoke at times? This happens because the combustion reaction is having a little trouble as the wick might have too little or even too much fuel, this incomplete combustion is what the causes the stuttering and soot. This is most common when you first light a candle and should go away within a few minutes on its own as the wick begins to burn more steadily. Another reason your candle might be producing soot or stuttering is because the wick is too long. This is why you should always trim your wick down to 1/4-inch every time before you burn it. It's also worth noting that candles are optimised to burn for around two to four hours and when you over burn a candle you risk getting more soot. And of course it's always important to make sure your candle is burning away from drafts or gusts and that it is burning on an even surface, otherwise this will also cause it to burn unevenly. Should you worry about breathing that evaporated wax in?
The most important thing you can do is make sure that you are caring for your candles properly to minimise any soot and poor combustion. Choosing a candle that uses cleaner, sustainable and natural alternatives to paraffin wax, such as soy or coconut wax also helps to reduce the toxins released into the air when burning your candle, this is because they release less soot than their paraffin counterparts.