Before we had electricity, the world depended on candles and lanterns to provide light and comfort in the dark. Even today, many of us prefer the soft subtle glow of candles to set the mood and ambiance of a place rather than lamps and bright lights.
Candle flames dancing and flickering away provide just the perfect natural light. However, have you ever wondered why candles flicker even when there is no wind?
The flickering can be caused by impurities in the candle wax, as a result of excessive carbon build-up, or due to a release of air bubbles trapped within the melting wax. Another common reason is due to a draft that isn’t strong enough for you to feel.
If you are a fan of candles the last thing you want is for your candle to flicker or burn irregularly. The constant flickering can ruin your candlelight experience and be a potential fire hazard if you are not careful. To learn more about why candles flicker when there is no wind and the ways one can fix this uneven burn, read on!
8 Reasons Why Candles Flicker When There Is No Wind
A flickering candle can be mesmerizing to look at. The dancing flame provides a unique source of lighting that moves about, creating shadows and pockets of light that are constantly changing and moving. That is why candles are still so widely popular as the natural lighting it produces is still extremely hard to replicate.
However, sometimes a constantly flickering flame can be a sign that something is wrong with your candle, especially when there is no wind. A flickering candle flame shouldn’t be taken lightly as it could lead to a potential fire hazard.
As such, here are 8 reasons why your candle might be flickering even when there is no wind.
- An Unseen Draft
Even if your candle is lit indoors and away from windows and doors, that doesn’t mean it is out of the wind. Air travels differently inside your home as compared to outside. There might be drafts or channels of air running through your house that you can’t feel but your candle does.
There are plenty of reasons why these drafts can occur causing your candle to burn unevenly. How well is your home insulated? Are you using fans or an HVAC system inside the house? Are your windows sealed tight? Do your doors have weather strips?
All of these factors can impact the movement of air within your home, impacting the way your candle burns.
- Movements Near The Candle
Walking or moving close to where the candle is lit can create enough of a draft to cause a candle flame to flicker.
Remember, a candle only needs the tiniest air disturbances to flicker. Anything around it that is causing the air to move will lead to the flame flickering repeatedly.
A ceiling fan switched on in the other room can affect the way your candle burns. Pets moving too close to where the candle is burning also cause the flames to flicker.
This is why it is always best to place a candle well out of the way of any place where there is constant movement or heavy foot traffic.
- The Type & Size Of The Wick
The size and even type of wick being used in your candle can cause it to flicker. If your candle, for example, has a wooden wick it will flicker all the time as it was designed that way. A candle with a wooden wick is meant to replicate the feel of a burning fire and as such it will crackle and flicker just like the flames on a campfire.
If the candle wick is made from cotton and other fibers then the candle flame shouldn’t flicker. If it is continuing to do so check to see how long the wick is protruding out of the wax.
Larger wicks are meant for larger candles so if you have a small candle with a large wick the flame is likely not going to burn evenly. They create a much larger flame which results in higher carbon build-up. This can cause the wick to ‘mushroom’ or collapse resulting in the candle burning very irregularly.
The wick should never be more than just ¼ of an inch above the top layer of wax. Your candle flame should always never be higher than 1 inch.
- Impurities Or Moisture In The Wax
Did you know that it is not the wick that actually feeds the flame in a candle but actually the wax? Yes! The wick is merely the pilot or igniter whereas the wax is the fuel the flame needs to burn.
The heat of a candle flame causes the wax below it to melt and eventually burn off as wax vapor. Thus, any impurities in the wax, or even air bubbles or moisture trapped in the wax, can disrupt a candle flame’s source of fuel; resulting in constant flickering and an irregular flame.
Trapped pockets of air inside the wax, when released, can cause the flames to suddenly flare up much higher than normal which can be a real cause of concern and a very serious fire hazard.
- Debris, Dirt & Grime
A candle that has been lying out in the open will likely collect dirt and grime. This dirt, debris, or grime can build up on the top layer of wax just around the wick. When a candle is lit, the flame causes this dirt, debris, and grime to heat up and catch fire causing your candle flame to suddenly flare up.
Once burnt, this hot debris continues to sink deeper into the wax causing your candle to ‘tunnel’ or cave in. This phenomenon results in the region closest to the wick melting, while the outer layers of wax stay solid. This hollows out the candle making it unsuitable for use.
- Improper Storage
If you have a candle with a lid, never forget to close the lid once you are done using the candle. Letting a candle sit without its lid is an invitation for dust, dirt, grime, and even moisture to collect on the wax causing the candle to burn irregularly.
Also, it goes without saying never freeze your candles! Candles that are stored in a freezer or in an extremely cold place can not just flicker when lit but if housed in a glass container, it can also cause the candle to explode!
Always store your candles in a dry, dark, and relatively cool place, preferably in zip-lock bags, until needed. Never store a candle in a damp or moist environment that is hot and humid.
- The Candle Flame Itself
Flickering may be caused as a result of the flame itself. Yes, that may sound confusing but in some cases, depending on the type of container the wax is housed in, the heat produced by the burning flame can cause the air around it to flow or move causing the candle flame to flicker.
Heat produces air current and it is these air currents that are likely causing your flame to flicker.
Candles lit in moist, humid, or cold environments will likely flicker not because there is wind, but rather due to hot air produced by the candle flame getting in contact with the surrounding air or moisture.
- Manufacturing Errors & Defects
Sometimes your candle flickers not because of any of the reasons mentioned above but because of a manufacturing fault during the candle-making process. You may think this is a bit of a stretch, but you will be surprised how often faulty candles end up in the hands of customers.
Candle-making DIYers can all relate to how easy it is to mess up a candle during the candle-making process. Pouring the candle wax out at the wrong temperature, using the wrong quality materials, the wrong type of wick, or the wrong amount or type of fragrance oils, can all lead to a candle flickering and burning unevenly.
Candle Making is an art that is extremely rewarding when things go right, but equally frustrating when things just don’t seem to be going your way.
This holds true for manufacturers as well. A small error can cause an entire batch of candles to misbehave when lit. In such a case, your best bet is to return the candle to where you bought it and ask for a refund or an exchange.
How To Fix Candle Flickering When There Is No Wind?
Here are some easy steps as to how you can stop your candle from flickering.
- Change the location of the candle. Move it to a spot, preferably in a corner, where you are certain there is no wind or air movement. If it continues to flicker, you may have a deeper problem.
- Make sure your candle isn’t lit in a room where a fan is switched on, or close to a room with open windows or air vents.
- Use a candle wick trimmer to trim your candle wick to the right size. Longer wicks can create high levels of carbon buildup causing the wick to mushroom and for the flames to flicker. Trimming them down to just about ¼ inch from the top wax can ensure an even flame without any flickering or carbon build-up.
- Always wipe your candle with a soft cloth before lighting it. Also, make sure there isn’t any sort of debris on the top of the wax. A quick wipe and an inspection can be enough to ensure that there are no impurities left on the wax or the wick that can interfere with the way your candle burns.
- Never leave a lit candle unattended! Whether it is flickering or not, if you have a lit candle, make sure there is someone around it all the time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q) Can A Flickering Candle Be Dangerous?
A candle that flickers isn’t considered to be dangerous. However, this is not the way a normal candle should behave. A flickering candle is a sign that your candle isn’t burning how it should. As such, the first thing you should do is snuff out the flame.
Next, using the guidelines above find out the cause of the flame flickering. Once you have the cause, fixing it shouldn’t be a problem.
Q) Is It Normal For Candles To Flicker?
No, it is not normal for a candle flame to flicker. When lit in an environment with no wind or drafts a candle should never flicker. The flickering of the flame only occurs as a result of a disruption in the combustion process. Anything that affects the flames’ ability to get the desired fuel or oxygen it needs will cause it to flicker.
Q) Can A Burning Candle Produce Soot?
A candle that isn’t burning as it should, will likely produce black soot and smoke. As most types of candle wax are hydrocarbons, if they are partially burnt they end up producing black soot and smoke that won’t just stain your walls and furniture but also poses a health risk.
Soot and smoke from a candle is a tell-tale sign that something is definitely wrong. Blow out the candle immediately and make sure you fix what is causing the irregular burn before lighting it up again.
The best part about candles is the light that it provides. The soft glow of a burning candle gives off just the right amount of light to get you in the mood to relax and destress. Candlelight is also romantic and can make any occasion that much more special.
As such, the last thing one wants is to light a candle only for the flame to flicker continuously, ruining the entire experience. We hope this guide will prevent such a tragedy from ever happening!