Light a Candle With Smoke

Traveling Flame Science Trick

Two candles sit near each other

Watcha / Getty Images

You know you can light a candle with another candle, but if you blow one of them out, did you know you can relight it from a distance? In this trick, you'll blow out a candle and relight it by causing the flame to travel along a path of smoke.

How to Do the Traveling Flame Trick

  1. Light a candle. Have a second source of flame ready, such as another candle, a lighter, or a match.
  2. Blow out the candle and immediately place the other flame into the smoke.
  3. The flame will travel down the smoke and relight your candle.

Tips for Success

If you have trouble lighting the smoke, try moving your flame closer to the wick because that's where the concentration of vaporized wax is highest. Another tip is to make sure the air is still around the candle. Again, this is so you maximize the amount of wax vapor around the wick and have a clear smoke trail to follow.

How the Traveling Flame Trick Works

This fire trick is based on how candles work. When you light a candle, the heat from the flame vaporizes the candle wax. When you blow the candle out, vaporized wax briefly remains in the air. If you apply a heat source quickly enough, you can ignite the wax and use that reaction to relight the wick of the candle. Although it looks like you're lighting the candle with smoke, it's really just the wax vapor that ignites. Soot and other debris from the flame aren't ignited.

You can watch a YouTube video of this project to see a candle relight itself, but it's even more fun to try it yourself.

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Light a Candle With Smoke." ThoughtCo, Sep. 7, 2021, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2021, September 7). Light a Candle With Smoke. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Light a Candle With Smoke." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).