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Earth Hour – You can’t hold a candle to it

By Russell Grenning - posted Friday, 23 March 2018

Even the National Candle Association in the USA which could be expected to laud the benefits of living with candles admits on its website, "The heat of the flame vaporises the liquid wax (turns it into a hot gas) and starts to break down the hydrocarbons into molecules of hydrogen and carbon. These vaporised molecules are drawn into the flame, where they react with oxygen from the air to create heat, light, water vapour (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2)". There's those nasty words "carbon dioxide".

While claiming that a "quietly burning candle flame is a very efficient combustion machine", this US outfit admits, "but if the flame gets too little or too much air or fuel, it can flicker or flare and unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame before they can fully combust" and "the wisp of smoke you sometimes see when a candle flickers is actually caused by unburned soot particles that have escaped from the flame due to incomplete combustion."

Deep breaths everybody?


Now, if you want to be sure and safe and burn candles then use beeswax candles although, of course, they will cost lots and lots more than the paraffin wax candles.

But, and oh dear, here is another ethical conundrum for the environmentally conscious – using beeswax candles means using candles made, obviously, from beeswax and getting beeswax is also naughty as serious and aware vegans and environmentalist know.

One very popular vegan website points out that getting honey and beeswax from commercial producers causes what is called Colony Collapse Disorder. It seems that what the busy little bees produce should not be exploited or that will have catastrophic effects on the bee colony. It derives, says this high church for vegans, from the awful belief "that other creatures on Earth are ours to do with as we wish." In case you are wondering, this is called "speciesism".

I'd just leave the light on if I was you. Think about the poor little suffering bees.

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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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