There is always a temptation to use solvents in cleaning applications. Although it is a "no-brainer" that there is a risk of fire or explosion when using a flammable solvent, it won't hurt to review what flammability is all about. You may be familiar with the "Combustion Triangle."
- Fuel, which may be a solid, liquid or vapor
- Oxygen (which is present in the air) or some other oxidizer
- Heat to initiate the oxidation process which we call fire. This heat is sometimes called a source of ignition.
- Fuel - Once all of the wax in the candle has burned away, there is no longer any fuel available and the candle goes out. The combustion triangle is broken by the lack of fuel.
- Oxygen - If a burning candle is placed in a glass jar and the lid is screwed on, the candle will eventually use up all of the available oxygen in the jar and the candle will stop burning. The combustion triangle is broken by the lack of oxygen.
- Heat or Ignition - This one is a little tricky! We are all familiar with "blowing" a candle out. In fact, the rapid movement of air moves the flame (where the oxidation is taking place) far enough away from the fuel and oxygen mixture to prevent it from being ignited. The white "smoke" that appears immediately after a flame is blown out is actually a very flammable mixture of wax vapor and oxygen but, with no flame, it is not ignited. You may have noticed easy it is to re-ignite a candle that has just been extinguished vs. one that has never been lit. "Pinching" a candle to put it out temporarily removes oxygen and essentially removes the heat of the burning flame which is required to sustain combustion.
- FJF -