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Name: Janine
Status: Educator
Grade: 9-12
Location: TX
Country: USA
Date: January 2005


Question:
In a common scented wax candle, is the fragrance bound to the paraffin or simply incorporated into the candle as discrete droplets? If bound to the paraffin, is it by hydrogen bonding? I realize there are many scent and candle types, but I would appreciate any simple example. This question arose when I received an electronic unit that allows the scent to be released from an unlit glass-encased candle.



Replies:
Electrically activated scented units have low--power heaters that cause the fragrant oil to evaporate. In candles, the heat of the candle burning provides the heat. In both cases there is more "technology" than you would expect at first. The scented oil may/may not be sufficiently soluble in the wax. The scent must be non-toxic, although some people are allergic to the chemicals. The scent must not decompose in the flame -- at least it must not produce smoke,soot, or toxic combustion products.

The paraffin does not hydrogen bond to any extent -- remember the paraffin is basically a high molecular weight hydrocarbon. Most of the scenting chemicals have a powerful odor so it does not require much solubility in the wax to be effective.

Vince Calder



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