Why doesn’t it VIBE
January 1, 2021 11:28 PM   Subscribe

I put candlesticks in wine bottles. Thendrip poetically. THEN (the horror,) the drips pull away from the bottle, like a skirt in the wind, and a) look silly and b) break off. Physics, please tell me why that happens. Also is there any way I can prevent it, because AMBIANCE. I just want bottles ensconced in wax drips, is that too much to ask?
posted by Grandysaur to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is most likely happening because one side of the drip is cooling faster than the other side. Since liquid wax contracts as it cools down this causes the drip to pull towards the side that is cooling faster (probably because the exterior side is convex and hence has a larger surface area). I'd experiment with cooling the bottle in the freezer before applying your artistic drips. If that makes the problem worse, try heating the bottle in sink of warm water before applying the drips. Alternatively, you could take steps to improve the adherence of the drips to the bottle — perhaps by lightly scuffing with sandpaper the portion of the bottle's exterior that will be covered with wax drips.
posted by RichardP at 11:47 PM on January 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Alternatively, try spray painting the bottle with clear spray paint before apply the wax drips — that might improve the adhesion of the drips. You could also apply some clear spray paint after the wax drips fully cool, since they tend to be a bit crumbly and the clear paint would help keep the drips in place.
posted by RichardP at 11:57 PM on January 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

They sell special drip candles that are drippier than regular candles especially for this purpose.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:21 AM on January 2, 2021 [12 favorites]

I can't tell you the science of it, but having used the special drip candles, I can confirm that they work much better at covering a bottle with wax than the regular sort. You can even get ones with multiple colors.
posted by pie ninja at 4:59 AM on January 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

The place I went back when dinosaurs roamed the earth also provided crayons for their patrons to hold in the candles' flames. Very absorbing.
posted by kate4914 at 6:33 AM on January 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Different kinds of wax behave differently in this situation. Beeswax would probably stick better because its phase change is more gradual and it stays mooshy at a wider range of temperatures. Stearin like the IKEA tapers has a very narrow window of squishyness and in my experience the drips pop off of surfaces quite easily. Paraffin is somewhere in between I think, maybe more towards the beeswax end.

In summary, try a different kind of candle, one that when you tap it goes more thunk and less ping.
posted by heatherlogan at 7:00 AM on January 2, 2021 [6 favorites]

Long ago when people used to light their way to bed with a candle, those wax drips were known as winding sheets.

Real winding sheets, of course were the white rags used to wind around a body before it was buried. Using the term for drips of candle grease was because the real meaning made it a vivid expression.

Traditionally Chianti bottles are used to maximize the effect of the wax drips. The tall slender neck and the large round base maximized the chances that the wax would coat the neck of the bottle. A Chianti bottle's reed base may not be something you would like covered in wax, but bottles of that shape could be worth looking for. A proper Chianti bottle has a round base and needs the fiasco because it won't stand on its own. They were originally much easier to make than bottles with bases, as they were made from blown, not moulded glass. I would not be surprised if any modern chianti bottles actually had a base in there, or if you could find Chianti style bottles entirely made from glass, including the fiasco.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:12 PM on January 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

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