Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wax burning

Wax burning , also known as wax boiling, is the heating of candle wax to high temperatures in a container as a form of entertainment.

Most of the time, it refers to a local tradition of Hong Kong youths during the Mid-Autumn Festival period in public parks or other such areas. One would use an empty moon cake tin as the container to bring candle wax to the boil, possibly adding newspaper scraps or other flammable fuel. When the wax fire reaches its peak, one would pour water onto the flames thus creating spectacular sizzling and steam. This practice is dangerous due to the flames' kickback and volatile amount of flowing hot wax, possibly causing third degree burns; several children have been taken to hospital each year due to "wax burning" related injuries. The annual numbers are in decline due to legislation and public education campaigns .

Attitude of the Hong Kong government to wax burning

As there are many revellers during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Hong Kong police force has previously paid little attention to wax boiling, and hence many local youths see the festival as a chance for "legal fire-setting". However, due to the amounts of leftover melted wax in public areas and the inherent danger of the practice, in 1990 the government began issuing public announcements to citizens not to boil wax. The police and Leisure and Cultural Services Department began patrolling public parks and areas during the three-day festival period, requesting citizens not to light too many candles at once and to prevent wax burning.

Offenders burning wax in public parks, beaches or BBQ areas face a maximum penalty of HK$2,000 and 14 days imprisonment. The Housing Department also prohibits the practice, claiming that five points deduction and a $1,500 fixed penalty notice will be imposed on offenders in its public housing estates. Leaving behind wax stains in public places will also fall under "littering" and is liable to a HK$1,500 fine. The government suggests


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