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Ignition Propensity and Heat Flux Profiles of Candle Flames for Fire Investigation



Scott E. Dillon, Anthony Hamins


Common household open flame and radiant ignition sources are the actual or suspected cause for many fires. Because of their popular use, fire investigators have identified candles as one of the most important of these ignition sources. In spite of this, the ignition potential from candle flames is not well characterized and the properties of paraffin wax are not easily accessible. The purpose of this ongoing research is to identify the burning behavior and properties of common candles in order to provide additional tools for use by investigators. The properties of paraffin wax were obtained from literature as well as experimentally. The candles were burned experimentally under controlled laboratory conditions in order to measure the mass burning rate, regression rate, flame height, and heat flux. Using the properties of paraffin wax and characteristics of the candles, numerous simulations were performed with the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) to model the burning rate and heat flux profile of a candle flame. The modeling results were then compared with the flame height and heat flux data obtained experimentally.
Fire and Materials Conference


arson, candles, computational model, FDS, flames, heat flux


Dillon, S. and Hamins, A. (2003), Ignition Propensity and Heat Flux Profiles of Candle Flames for Fire Investigation, Fire and Materials Conference, [online], (Accessed June 19, 2024)


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Created January 27, 2003, Updated October 12, 2021