Wax Play

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Having someone slowly dripping hot wax on you can be a deeply erotic experience. It can also cause very nasty burns, so be sure you know what you're doing before you begin.

There's a good page at -^-^spectrum-^^-'s site which dispells various myths and gives some sound information, so have a look at that first.

Update: The page referenced above, formerly at http://links.magenta.com/~spectrum/wax.htm was withdrawn following the publication of its content as "The Toybag Guide to Wax Play" (Greenery Press).

The bit I am addressing is his conclusion (very simplified and paraphrased) that there was not much difference in practice between any of the wax candles commonly available (paraffin, beeswax, stearate mixes, plain, coloured, scented etc) as regards heat/burn safety.

In a nutshell the arguments are that

  • The higher burn temperatures of some, particularly beeswax, candles makes a limited difference as very little of the 'pooled' wax is close enough to the flame to be at anything close to ignition temperature
  • The hotter the wax is when it leaves the candle the more rapidly it cools as it is poured: there is little difference in the temperature at the moment of contact
  • All waxes have a similar specific heat (the amount of heat 'held' in a gram of wax per degree centigrade)
  • All waxes have a similar latent heat of fusion (amount of heat needed to transform one gram of solid wax to one gram of liquid wax at the same temperature). Latent heat is a major component of total heat delivery.
  • The total heat actually delivered by different sorts of wax is therefore roughly the same, therefore they are roughly equally safe to play with and perceived differences are purely subjective.
NB: Commonplace opinion has it that some candles, coloured and beeswax in particular, are too hot to play with safely.

 

My additional thoughts...

I have some slight reservations about Spectrum's conclusions that wax colour, type and hardness have little effect on the useability of candles from a heat point of view, which does not accord with my (entirely subjective) experience. Comprehensive though his 'total heat' tests are, I think they neglect one important factor in the physics of cooling wax.

/geekmode on When water freezes or molten metal solidifies it stays at the liquifaction temperature until the phase change is complete. Wax is different - its temperature continues to fall and solidification takes place over an extended temperature range (I have a vague recollection that wax, like glass, is technically a supercooled liquid and not a solid at all, but don't quote me on that...). The critical difference this makes to the (un)fortunate recipient of the splodge of molten wax is that the more extended the phase change is, the more time the skin has to conduct away the latent heat of fusion being released. In a nutshell, the more rapidly the wax solidifies, the more likely you are to be burnt by the overwhelming release of heat. /geekmode off.

Which leaves us....where? It leaves us holding a bunch of hard shiny dinner candles in a range of neat colours: candles designed to stay hard and solid except near the flame, to minimise dripping...candles which solidify quickly....candles which might not give up much more heat in total per gram of melted wax than any other sort, but which deliver it much more quickly.

Proper beeswax church candles also seem to be drip free, but I can't say whether that's the nature of the wax or careful design and manufacture of the wick in relation to candle size

In the end it comes back to testing each new type of candle cautiously on yourself before you use it on someone else, but if you find that some seem to have more burn potential than those plain white, slightly greasy, easily softened ones... then it might not just be your imagination.

Personally I avoid the very slim dripless/smokeless dinner table candles, particularly those which have a hard, shiny coloured exterior. Tea-lights still in their aluminium case get very hot: that's what they're designed to do... Beware of containerised candles (in glass bowls etc) which get molten to the very edge when burning - the wax can rise much closer to ignition temperature. I also avoid beeswax because it's unnecessarily expensive for the job!

I am told that plain white paraffin wax (generally the safest everyday wax) can be safely coloured by melting in a bit of ordinary wax crayon into it. I have yet to try this out. FWIW I am also told that soy candles burn at a much lower temperature than other candles.

 

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