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Exploding candle forces evacuation of Northeastern dorm

The Huntington News reports about 100 students at Northeastern's Willis Hall, 50 Leon St. in the Fenway were forced into the brisk night air Tuesday when a burning candle on one student's stove somehow exploded. The News reports the student managed to douse the candle-sized blaze, but not until it sent enough smoke into the air to trigger alarms and bring the Boston Fire Department to the scene.

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Comments

Was it a roman candle?

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at every school

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Are cause for getting permanently banned from student housing?

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If it was in fact a candle, it doesn't seem any more severe than accidentally leaving a bag of popcorn cooking in the microwave for too long. Accidents happen and don't always mean the student should be kicked out of housing.

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Popcorn isn’t. That’s a big difference

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who had something in a dorm that they weren't supposed to, we wouldn't have to worry about how much housing our universities were building because all the students left would fit in a single apartment building.

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...some banned items can result in fires that kill people very quickly.

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And for good reason. Burning candles along with burning cigarettes are among the top causes of fires in homes.

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Or are you just ....

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No, it's an exploding penis

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When I was in college in the 70s dorms just weren't dorms without candles. Doing bong hits by bright overhead fluorescent light just doesn't cut it.

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If only there were some kind of middle ground…

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I've never heard of such a thing. Explanation please, chemists.

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If I dust off the old engineering degree, I can give you the gist. Candles work by melting wax by heating up the wax. Heating up wax, or almost any amorphous solid, makes it expand. If you put a candle on a surface that is warm or hot, like a stove, it can heat up the bottom of the candle instead of the open part near the top. This causes the wax at the bottom to expand pressing on the glass containing the candle which is also expanding. If the candle is manufactured by someone with a reputation that would be harmed by their name being associated with exploding candles, you are probably fine, but if you made the candle from a random canning jar or bought it at Discount Dan's House of Half-Priced Candles and Other Waxy Things, eventually the pressure plus the thermal cycling of the glass will cause a fracture and the pressure will cause a modest explosion of hot wax. If the stove happened to be on at the time, well, hot liquid wax is quite flammable.

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Discount Dan's House of Half-Priced Candles and Other Waxy Things

LIMITED time only! 60% OFF our famous, pumpkin spice-scented, fire-breathing, jack-o-lantern candles! (remove smoke detector batteries before use)

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I had sort of glossed over the "on a stove" part. That's... possibly relevant.

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Flame burning too hot cracks the glass

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A defective or damaged tempered glass candle holder is my guess. Pyrex-style glass is under tension and compression, and a tiny crack can lead to catastrophic failure when combined with thermal shock such as direct contact with an open flame or hot molten wax. The static forces that make the glass so strong under normal circumstances get released, the glass shatters, and shards are launched everywhere.

Google "exploding pyrex" for more.

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Pyrex on a hot stove == boom! Candle or no candle ...

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Somehow?

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