Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ikea FENOMEN Floating Candles Review

More impulsive buying on my part. I went on an Ikea run and walked by the candle section, decided I wanted candles for the first time in a decade, so I got some. Honestly, I always loved burning things as a kid and almost set the house on fire burning cob webs on the porch during Halloween one time. Being safety oriented and paranoid even then, I actually kept some water close by that came in handy. After that, I mostly kept to lighting toothpicks on the electric stove.

At US$ 5.99, these did not exactly hurt my wallet. They are advertised as floating candles with a 4 hour burn time, made from paraffin or vegetable wax, and use a cotton wick, according to the website. The same source also says that the entire package of 24 candles is about 1 lb. These are small and light candles with what appears to be a pretty long and good run time considering the size.

Ikea FENOMEN Unscented Floating Candle (24 pack) - US$ 5.99

If you count taking the candle out of the box, finding a lighter, getting an aluminum tray, filling it with water, and finally lighting the candle, then assembly was a pain. Not being a smoker or living with smokers (or pyros), finding a lighter was actually the hardest part. I took this occasion as an excuse to buy a pack of BIC lighters though. Twas my first time using one since I was a child.

The only truly valid and serious complaint I have is related to the packaging. These candles come in a rectangular plastic "box" that doesn't keep its shape. Once I opened the box and took a candle out, the remaining 23 wanted to move over each other and make the box hard to seal.

I've found these flat and round candles to be pretty stable when whole and not burning. They shouldn't tip easily being longer and wider than they are tall, but more interesting things have happened before. See my description of how it burns further down to get an idea of how stable it may be when actually lit.

Expandability / Customizability
Buy a candle holder? Lots of candle holders available at Ikea.
Ikea FENOMEN after 2 .25 hours
Everyday Use
Fire is fun. It's been so long since I've played with a candle that I forgot how much dumb fun it is to just watch it burn and melt.

With the single candle that I've played with so far, the flame melted off the top, and then created a  hollow cavity in the middle. This left an exterior hard wax shell in the middle after 2 hours. However, my candle was in water, which cooled the exterior. A pool of melted wax filled the interior of the shell. How it works in open air with no exterior cooling, I don't know.

I tested out the candle in water and there was still some left after 2.25 hours. In dry air, there's a possibility that it may burn quicker. Note that it didn't stop burning after 2.25 hours. I just wanted to go to sleep and didn't want to leave a candle unattended, even if it was sitting in a pool of water.

Also, if it's not obvious, the one candle I tried did float! You can see it doing so as it floats around a bit. The tray is a bit too shallow to more effectively show this feature off though. I thought the candle was sinking way too low when first inserted and lit, and I was hoping it would sink at some point. It's been years since I've taken a fluid dynamics course, so I forgot about buoyancy. Bla bla bla, the uplift force is equal to the weight of the liquid being displaced. As the candle burns, the candle gets lighter due to the wax being burned off. The really clever thing is that the exterior wax shell remains (assuming my candle is representative of all identical FENOMENs) and keeps water out. I think the candle rose higher as it burned due to this.

Fun stuff. The tea lights may come in more handy with the inclusion of a container. Block candles burn longer. But I like these floating candles and they have their use.

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