# Phenomenon where fumes can relight an extinguished flame

I lit a mosquito coil and used it to melt down small down candle wax which had fallen on the floor. The coil then produced some dense fumes. I directed the fumes to the flame of a candle. As soon the fumes reached the candle, my coil caught fire again and started burning. I mean the flame actually traveled the path of the fumes and re lit my mosquito coil. I just wanted to know what this phenomenon is called? Why does this happen?

• Welcome to Chemsitry.SE! This is an interesting question, and it has already attracted an answer. I edited your question to make it a little more readable and to remove some of your self-deprecating comments. You don't need to feel bad about something you don't know. I don't know what this phenomenon is either, nor how it works. – Ben Norris Feb 22 '13 at 21:08
• @BenNorris I tried to work with the title a bit, please reedit if you think I didn't capture the spirit of it. – jonsca Feb 24 '13 at 22:26

It looks like you accidentally created a combustion mixture. I checked the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for several mosquito coils, and in addition to the insecticide, one of them also contained the oxidizer potassium nitrate $\ce{(KNO3)}$. The burning candle likely had some vaporized paraffin (fuel) in the flame, so when you directed the $\ce{KNO3}$ vapor into the flame, you had heat + fuel + oxidizer = combustion! You literally set that vapor on fire. I'd be careful with that: although the MSDS indicated a small amount of $\ce{KNO3}$ in the coil, you could still be injured if you were not prepared.