MadSci Network: Chemistry

RE: how much oxygen does a candle use

Area: Chemistry
Posted By: Artem Evdokimov, Grad student, Structural Biology (Chemistry)
Date: Sat Oct 26 19:33:40 1996

Dear Christy,

Candles are made of long chain hydrocarbons and esters of C11-C17 carboxylic acids connected to glycerol. It would not be an overestimation to suppose that the brute formula of the candle is C10H20O. Then, a simple equation gives us :

2C10H20O + 29O2 ---> 20CO2 + 20H2O (assuming total combustion)
Which means that for 1 g. of a candle there would be :
156  --  928
1    --  7.36 or  0.23 M oxygen == 5.152 liters of O2 at normal pressure 
and room temperature (~25 degrees Centigrade)
So, a 10 gram candle burns 10 times as much, or 50 liters of oxygen.
Naturally, this is a rough estimate. Using a more accurate elemental composition of the candle one could produce more precise results, but in general this result is fairly reasonale.

Hope it helps.


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