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Characterization of Candle Flames



Anthony P. Hamins, Matthew F. Bundy, Scott E. Dillon


Common household open flame and radiant ignition sources are the actual or suspected cause for many fires. The purpose of this research is to identify the burning behavior and properties of common candles in order to provide additional tools for use by fire investigators. The properties of paraffin wax are obtained from the literature and from experiments. The candles are burned under controlled laboratory conditions to measure the mass burning rate, candle regression rate, flame height, and heat flux. Using the properties of paraffin wax and characteristics of the candles, numerous simulations are performed with the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) to model the burning rate and heat flux profile of the candle flame. The modeling results are then compared with the flame height and heat flux data obtained experimentally. The model facilitates an enhanced understanding of the structure of candle flames.
Journal of Fire Protection Engineering
No. 4


candles, arson, fire models, ignition, paraffin, wax, ignition sources, fire investigators, experiments, cone calorimeters, temperature, heat of combustion, mass loss, regression rate, flame height, heat flux, computational fluid dynamics


Hamins, A. , Bundy, M. and Dillon, S. (2005), Characterization of Candle Flames, Journal of Fire Protection Engineering, [online], (Accessed June 17, 2024)


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Created November 1, 2005, Updated February 19, 2017