This Super Realistic LED Candle is Smoking Hot

Over the last few years, LED candles have become increasingly common; and for good reason. From a distance a decent LED candle is a pretty convincing facsimile for the real thing, providing a low flickering glow without that annoying risk of burning your house down. But there’s something to be said for the experience of a real candle; such as that puff of fragrant smoke you get when you blow one out.

Which is why [Keith] set out on an epic three year quest to build the most realistic LED candle possible, with a specific focus on the features that commercial offerings lack. So not only does it use real wax as a diffuser for the LEDs, but you’re able to “light” it with an actual match. It even ejects a realistic bit of smoke when its microphone detects you’ve blown into it. Ironically, its ability to generate smoke means it doesn’t completely remove the possibility of it setting your house on fire if left unattended, but we suppose that’s the price you pay for authenticity.

As you might have gathered by now, [Keith] is pretty serious about this stuff, and has gone to great lengths to document his candle’s long development process. If you’d care to build a similar candle, his written documentation as well as the video after the break will certainly get you on the right track. He’s even broken the design down into “milestones” of increasing complexity, so for example if you don’t care about the smoking aspect of the candle you can just skip that part of the build.

So what did [Keith] put into his ultimate LED candle? In the most basic form, the electronics consist of a Arduino Pro Mini and a chunk of RGB WS2812B strip holding six LEDs. Add in an IR sensor if you want the candle to be able to detect the presence of a match, and a microphone if you want to be able to blow into the candle to turn it off. Things only get tricky if you want to go full smoke, and let’s be honest, you want to go full smoke.

To safely produce a puff of fragrant smoke, [Keith] is using a coil of 28 gauge wire wrapped around the wick of a “Tiki Torch”, and a beefy enough power supply and MOSFET to get it nice and hot. The wick is injected with his own blend of vegetable glycerin and aromatic oil, and when the coil is fired up it produces an impressive amount of light gray smoke that carries the scent of whatever oil you add. Even if you’re not currently on the hunt for the ultimate electronic candle, it’s a neat little implementation that could be used come Halloween.

You might be surprised to learn that LED candles are a rather popular project within the hacking community. From the exceptionally simple to the exceedingly complex, we’ve seen an impressive array of electronic candles over the years. Perfect for setting the mood when listening to the smooth sounds of the latest Hackaday podcast episode.

14 thoughts on “This Super Realistic LED Candle is Smoking Hot

  1. First thought: Nice!

    Second thought: … Arduino Pro Mini, a chunk of RGB WS2812B, an IR sensor, a microphone,a coil of 28 gauge wire, a “Tiki Torch”, a beefy enough power supply, MOSFET, glycerin, aromatic oil …
    … to REPLACE A CANDLE?

    How much electronic, plastic, power, water etc. would go into replacing a twig with which kids used to draw lines in the sand on a beach? Half a ton?
    (Yes, I realize that a sheet of paper has been replaced by a 1600 Dollar piece of electronic equipment …)

    Shouldn’t we (including hackers) look for ways to ruin our world a little less – instead of A LOT MORE?

    1. Ya but if you mass produce them efficiently, is a reusable LED candle that can optionally even emulate smoke by adding some vape juice, less environmental friendly than mass producing candles that have refined wax, glass, wicks, essential oils that have to be distilled from real plant matter or produced from artificial chemicals that have to also be refined and then to top it all off they have limited amount of uses? Not to mention how many fires have been caused by candles.

      https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Top-causes-of-fire/Candles

    2. That’s your takeaway from this project? How myopic. I feel like it should go without saying that not only is this project not practical as an actual candle, it’s not even the point of putting it together.

    3. Dumb comment, dude. Most of the hacks people do are because they want to do something different or.. “just because”. Do you comment this way every time someone 3D prints a “Boaty”? You must not mind all that much since you come to Hackaday. Take your pedantic concern and your misplaced faux outrage somewhere else, k? Cool.

  2. If you use stainless steel for heating coil, one can measure it resistance and prevent overheating. And using two series connected mosfets driven by two IO, the safety would be improved, if one of them get stuck in open state.

  3. Most people hack together projects for just the fun of a challenge. It’s not about cost, some are basically free, from salvaged parts, other spend a lot of cash. It’s really not about being better, cheaper, more efficient, or cost effective. It’s simply taking a thought or idea, and making it work (or not), with the resources and skills you have available. What you end up with, might be total crap, but you learned something new, had fun doing it. I don’t know why people in the comments, seem to think every build has to be a commercially viable product. If the goal was always to turn a profit, we would see much on here, before it was in production, and on sale. It’s more about sharing an experience building something. Sometimes, bit and pieces of even the strangest projects, can be used is something a little more practical, or show us a few things to avoid trying ourselves, saving us from making similar mistakes.

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