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What is the Flash Point of Paraffin Wax?

Can paraffin wax catch fire? Yes, highly-flammable paraffin wax generally ignites at the following temperatures, depending upon its melting point, and the hardeners you mix into it:

  • Paraffin wax without additives: 199°C (390.2°F).
  • Paraffin wax with additives: 249°C (480.2°F).

These two temperatures form the lower and higher limits of the combustion zone. Candle wax bursts into flames at various points within that thermal range, depending upon its composition.

Some paraffin wax manufacturers claim a 140°C (284°F) flashpoint for their particular waxes. Although doubtful, (I've worked with a variety of waxes at much higher temperatures), for safety's sake, use the temperatures I've given, as guidelines only, and always follow the suppliers' instructions.

Certain creatively-colored candles are poured, with hotter-than-normal waxes, of 127°C (260.6°F) or above. Also, high heat waxes are the norm for overdipping candles. So, using a double-boiler - which prevents wax from exceeding the temperature of boiling water - becomes impossible.

The flammability of paraffin causes a problem, when melting wax directly on the stove. Watch for signs of overheating: candle wax turns brown, smells bitter, smokes and sizzles, some time before it approaches the point of autoignition.

How to Put out a Paraffin Wax Fire

So, if candlewax combusts, how do you extinguish the fire? Do not pour water over burning wax. This impulsive action might be the first thing one thinks of, but this simply accelerates the fire, and causes an explosion. Instead, switch your electricity mains off. Stick a lid onto the pot with the flaming wax. This smothers the flames, and causes the fire to die down naturally.