How to make your candle hover

[I discovered this trick after a heat wave passed through the Washington area. Come to think of it, that’s probably the only way I would have discovered it.]

The hovering candle

6/9/2008

Ever wondered how you could turn your everyday jar candle into a gravity-defying wonder? (Probably not, but please—don’t stop reading just yet.) Here’s a nifty summertime trick for making a candle that your guests and family members will marvel at.

First, you’ll need a transparent jar candle, preferably four inches or more in height and five inches or more in width. (It’s quite possible to do it with smaller versions, though.) Another important element: there should be a tall enough gap between the top of the wax and the top of the glass. Pour water over this gap until the surface of the water meets the top of the jar.

With your submerged candle in hand, it’s time to explore the properties of wax. Go outside with your special candle and set it on the windowsill, deck or any other extraneous surface. The thermometer should read ninety degrees or higher. (If you happen to live in Moscow or Fairbanks, try putting your jar in the oven instead—what matters here is that the surrounding temperature is warm.) After it’s placed, walk back inside, pick up your newspaper and study foreign affairs for a few hours.

Keep checking on the candle until—gasp! The wax seems to have risen into the air. Why? once the candle melted from the heat, it naturally rose above the denser water until the wax and liquid switched places.

The following steps are much easier. Take your candle back inside and pop it in the fridge. Once it seems to have solidified, take a pen that you don’t care much for and poke it through the wax; keep pushing until it breaks into the pool of liquid. Now—very carefully—tilt the glass upside down over the sink until all the water has poured out.

You’re now left with the oddest of sights: a candle that seems to have burnt from the bottom up. Though it’s possible that the dried wax will slide back to the bottom of the jar, it’s likely to remain a conversation piece for quite some time.

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