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What is Wax Made Of? Answered

I have an idea that could ultimitly stop the energy crisis and/or global warming, but it involves how renewable candles (aka wax) are.

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lemonieBest Answer (author)2010-03-16

Most wax these days is heavy-paraffin (mineral oil, from crude). But you've also got bees-wax, and some people still produce tallow candles.

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steveastrouk (author)lemonie2010-03-17

I suppose we really need to think of what "waxiness" means - like you say tallow and solid fats are waxY but there are all sorts of things that make up "fats" and "waxes"

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lemonie (author)steveastrouk2010-03-17

Yes, I was only thinking of "renewable candles (aka wax)" at the time. If we knew what this idea was it would help.

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NicOmbra (author)lemonie2010-03-17

It's actually a pretty simple idea.
1. Have lights hooked to solar panels so they can power themselves with only a little "kick" of light to get the movement of power started. This would provide light in an easy and energy effective way.
2. (This is where wax comes in) Have candles made of the most renewable resources burn and be converted into power by [I can't remember the name of] cell. That would provide heat (for us) and energy for things like washers driers and ovens.
 This is just a basic idea forming in my head, and shouldn't be necessary for awhile unless things get a lot worse. It might be helpful in countries that aren't in a great condition, or for people looking to save money.

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lemonie (author)NicOmbra2010-03-17

Light-to-solar-panel loop won't work, it violates the principle of energy conservation - you get nothing out of it.

Renewable fuels like animal / vegetable are something else, but you need to be sure the primary energy input is the sun.

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NicOmbra (author)lemonie2010-03-20

 Does the same rule apply if you have one light powering another, which is also powering the first one?

Light                 Light
   -                       -
    -                   -
        -            -
          -    -
____       -      -_____
Panel                 Panel

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lemonie (author)NicOmbra2010-03-20

Yes - not even going to keep it's self powered-up, never going to generate excess light.

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NicOmbra (author)lemonie2010-03-23
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lemonie (author)NicOmbra2010-03-23

 You can convert heat to power, but what heat source are you thinking of here?

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lemonie (author)NicOmbra2010-03-28

Well, you've got miniature steam engines, or thermoelectric devices for two.


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NicOmbra (author)lemonie2010-03-29

Thermoelectric devices are what I'm thinking about. Not super "steampunk" though...

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NachoMahma (author)2010-03-16

.  I'm glad to see you are concerned about the environment and are thinking of ways to make things better, but candles aren't the way to go. As others have pointed out, candles are hydrocarbons and produce CO2 and quite a bit of CO) when burned. They are also a fire hazard*.


* National Candle Association (See "Candle Fire Statistics" section at bottom of page)

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NicOmbra (author)NachoMahma2010-03-17

But what about bee's wax? Is that still bad?

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jeff-o (author)NachoMahma2010-03-17

Indeed.  It's actually better to burn wood, at least it's carbon-neutral.

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b-stro (author)2010-03-16

Most wax is paraffin, a solid hydrocarbon ( carbon-hydrogen compounds like oil, methane, propane...). Paraffin has a chemical formula of  C(n) H(2n+2) with n representing the number of carbons (household paraffin is C25H52). Burning wax produces greenhouse gasses (mainly carbon dioxide) just like burning gasoline or propane.

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