CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
REFERENCE REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/780,028, entitled “Improved Melting Plate Candles,” filed Feb. 17, 2004, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/978,744, entitled “Wick Holder Magnetic Retention Means,” filed Nov. 1, 2004, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/938,434, entitled “Wick Holder Locking Mechanism,” filed Sep. 10, 2004, each of which is incorporated herein by reference in the entirety thereof.
- SEQUENTIAL LISTING
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention is directed generally toward candle assemblies, and more particularly toward candle assemblies including a melting plate and a fuel element for placement thereon.
2. Description of the Background of the Invention
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Melting plate candles and simmer plate dispensers have been used to provide rapid melting of a solid fuel element and/or rapid dispensing of a vaporizable material to the atmosphere. In one melting plate candle, a dispenser for active materials has a melting plate dispenser of volatile materials having a fuel element, including a consumable wick disposed in the wax fuel charge, and a heat conductive base having conductive elements. Heat from a flame at the wick is transferred to the heat conductive base, which in turn helps melt the wax fuel element at locations other than directly adjacent to the flame. Another melting plate candle has a concave melting plate. A wick in a fuel element is located at a low point in the melting plate such that melted fuel material on the melting plate is directed by gravity toward the wick.
According to one aspect of the present invention, a melting plate for a melting plate candle assembly includes a thermally transmissive bottom wall and a capillary lobe protruding upwardly from a low point of the bottom wall. The capillary lobe has a peaked apex.
According to another aspect of the present invention, a fuel element for use with a melting plate having a capillary lobe with a peaked apex protruding upwardly from a bottom wall thereof includes a fuel charge having a depression disposed in a lower surface thereof. The depression is adapted to receive the capillary lobe therein.
According to a further aspect of the present invention, a candle assembly includes a support plate including a capillary lobe projecting upwardly from a bottom wall, the capillary lobe having a peaked apex, and a fuel element including a depression in a lower surface thereof. A portion of the lower surface is in thermal communication with the bottom wall and the peaked apex is disposed in the depression.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description in which:
FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view of a melting plate candle assembly according to a first embodiment of the present invention, including a melting plate and a fuel element;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the melting plate candle assembly of FIG. 1 in an assembled condition;
FIG. 3 is a partially exploded isometric view of a melting plate candle assembly showing a fuel element and candle holder according to another embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 4 is a partial cross-sectional view of the melting plate candle assembly of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a simplified perspective view of yet another embodiment of a melting plate candle holder, showing a capillary pedestal, but absent a wick clip assembly and candle; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a melting plate candle assembly according to a further embodiment of the present invention showing the candleholder and melting plate of FIG. 5, a wick clip assembly, and a fuel element in operative position.
In one embodiment, a melting plate candle assembly of the present invention includes a fuel element and a container encompassing the fuel element. The container includes a heat conductive support member, such as a metallic melting plate including a bottom wall and a capillary lobe, which can either be a raised pedestal or a depression in the bottom wall. The fuel element includes a fuel charge having a defined outer surface, which is in thermal communication with the bottom wall, such as by direct contact or through an intermediate heat conductive member, and is supported or contained therein. The melting plate candle assembly may also include additional heat transfer elements, in either or both of the melting plate and the wick holder, to deliver heat by conductive means to the fuel and to the melting plate, in addition to heat transferred to the melting plate by direct radiation from the flame. The melting plate thus functions as a heating plate for the fuel element and any melted or liquefied fuel pooled on the bottom wall. The melting plate may include highly thermally transmissive, or heat conductive, material, such as polished aluminum or any metal, and/or less thermally transmissive materials may be used, such as glass or ceramic, or combinations thereof. The surface of the melting plate may have a coating of a surface tension modifying material applied thereto for purposes of preparing a self-cleaning or easy cleaning melting plate, such as, for example, a thin layer of a polytetrafluoroethylene material.
The melting plate may be shaped so as to collect the melted or liquefied fuel at a low point thereon, with the capillary lobe disposed at the low point. A wick may be located with a wick holder positioned over the capillary lobe, so that liquefied fuel is fed to the wick, in order to promote maximum consumption of the liquefied fuel. Thus, the melting plate may be shaped as a bowl or a funnel with the low point disposed centrally on the bottom wall. The melting plate may also be essentially flat with raised edges or a surrounding wall to contain the melted fuel. The entire interior surface of the melting plate may be highly heat conductive, or only a small portion or none of the melting plate may be highly heat conductive. Candle assemblies employing such melting plates are generally referred to, collectively, as melting plate candles.
The fuel charge utilized in the present invention may be initially in solid and/or gel form, and is in liquid form for moving up the wick by capillary action to the flame, where it is consumed. For convenience, the term solid fuel shall be used hereinafter to refer to a fuel charge in either a gel or conventional solid state, such as conventional candle wax in the form of a shaped body or “puck” of wax having a hard outer surface at room temperature. The wick draws the fuel consumed in the flame at the burning wick from a pool of liquid fuel, which is formed by melting the solid fuel by conductive heat transfer from the melting plate and heat exchange elements in addition to radiant heat from the flame. The pool of liquid fuel is contained on the upper surface of the bottom wall of the melting plate. This pool of liquid fuel may initially contain unmelted fuel in the solid state, as well as melted fuel, and the elevated temperature of the pool achieved by the present invention aids in complete melting of the fuel element.
The wick is secured in a position with the wick holder. The wick holder engages the melting plate at the capillary lobe, which locates the wick holder (and thus, the wick) in a preselected position relative to the melting plate and transmits heat from the flame on the wick to both the fuel and the melting plate. Thereby, the fuel element is heated both by convection directly from the flame and also by conduction through the wick holder and the melting plate. The wick holder and the capillary lobe may also be disposed to enhance flow of fuel to the wick by means of capillary action through an appropriately sized gap, or capillary space, formed between the lobe and the wick holder. The wick holder may also be configured to engage the fuel element in a lock and key relationship and to position it on the melting plate at a preferred or preselected location.
The capillary lobe may engage and/or position the wick, wick holder, and/or fuel element in such a manner as to provide an advantageous positioning thereof for maximum consumption of the liquefied fuel, as well as creating a capillary flow of melted fuel from the melting plate to the wick positioned in the wick holder, which is placed in such close relationship to the capillary lobe as to create a narrow gap between the lobe and the wick holder. By virtue of this narrow gap, which illustratively may be, for example, between approximately 0.01 inch and approximately 0.04 inches (0.2 mm−1mm), or about 0.02 inches (0.5 mm), liquefied fuel rises to the wick for consumption by a flame thereon. The capillary action may also or alternatively be the result of grooves cut in the lobe or in the wick holder, and the wick holder may be held away from the lobe by the presence of appropriately positioned and sized bumps located on the lobe, the wick holder, and/or the melting plate. Moreover, the capillary forming combination of elements may constitute a concave depression in the melting plate, rather than a raised male lobe, and the wick holder in such case may be an appropriately shaped male member that fits closely within the depression so as to create a capillary gap between the members, by which fuel is fed to the wick. Still further, the capillary lobe, either in a male configuration or in a female configuration, need not constitute a raised circular member, but may be of any shape, such as for example cylindrical, pyramid shaped, square, oval, triangular, or any other desired shape, in combination with a like-shaped and appropriately dimensioned wick holder. The capillary lobe need not transmit liquid fuel to the wick at all parts of the perimeter of the capillary lobe, but rather may only create a capillary gap for a limited portion of its circumference. Thus, the wick holder need not be in a close enough proximity to the lobe throughout the total area of engagement therewith to provide a sufficient capillary effect to maintain the flame on the wick.
Secondary heat conductive elements for conducting heat from the flame to the fuel charge may take the form of one or more heat fins or heat conductive surfaces disposed on the wick holder, and having an orientation conducive to heat conduction, including a vertical and/or horizontal orientation. The secondary heat conductive elements are heated by contact with the flame or by heat radiation from the flame and conduct heat to the melting plate and directly to the fuel charge. The secondary heat conductive elements, hereinafter exemplified as heat fins, although not limited to fins per se, and intended to encompass other heat conductive extensions of the wick holder which may serve this function, may be of any heat conductive material, and may be independent from or formed as an extension of the wick holder or joined to the wick holder in such a manner as to conduct heat from the flame to that portion of the wick holder which is engaged by the capillary lobe and/or the melting plate. Illustratively, the wick holder may thus include heat fins, a member to hold the wick, such as a wick receiver, and a base configured to engage the capillary lobe and transfer heat from the heat fins to the melting plate.
The fuel charge may be formed of one or more materials having a defined outer surface at room temperature, such as paraffin, beeswax, montan wax, carnauba wax, microcrystalline wax, polyvinyl acetate, fatty alcohols, fatty acids, fatty esters, and gels incorporating such fuels, and may have any convenient form, such as pucks, donuts, chips, slivers, balls, pellets, shavings, particulates, cubes, discs, three dimensional shapes, and wafers, or in any other suitable shape. The fuel charge may optionally further include volatile active materials, such as fragrances, air fresheners, deodorizers, odor eliminators, odor counter-actants, insecticides, insect repellants, herbals, medicinal substances, disinfectants, sanitizers, mood enhancers, aroma therapy compositions, and the like. The fuel charge may be colored for decorative effect, if so desired, and may be shaped to fit any given configuration of melting plate and/or wick holder. For example, the bottom of a solid fuel element may be curved complementarily to the shape of the melting plate upon which it is to rest, and have melting temperatures above ambient, but below the flame temperature of a wick burning such fuel.
The melting plate and/or the fuel container may be formed in such a manner as to permit placement of fuel elements of specific configuration, such as wax pucks having a complementary configuration, for example, in a preselected position in proximity to the heat conductive elements themselves, or to the wick holder, in such a manner as to maximize heat transfer from the melting plate to said fuel elements. Due to the interaction between the fuel element and the capillary lobe, a user may readily dispose a replacement fuel element including the fuel charge, wick holder, and wick, on the melting plate at a location designed to most effectively melt and consume the fuel element.
Turning now to the drawings, FIGS. 1 and 2 show a melting plate candle assembly according to a first embodiment of the invention. The melting plate candle assembly includes a support plate, such as melting plate 10, supported by a support base 12, and a fuel element 14, including a fuel charge 16 and a wick 18 carried by a heat conductive element, such as a wick holder 20. The melting plate 10 in one embodiment has a portion, such as a raised shoulder (not shown), which is in proximity to and heated by radiation of a flame burning on the wick 18, and which results in heat being transferred rapidly to the fuel by both conduction through the melting plate to the lower surfaces of the fuel charge 16 and by radiation from the flame to the upper surface of the fuel charge. The fuel element is thus subjected to melting both by heat directly from the flame and from the melting plate. A capillary lobe 22 is disposed centrally in a bottom wall 24 of the melting plate 10. The capillary lobe 22 has a substantially complementary shape to that of a lower surface of the fuel element 14, and in one embodiment has a rounded or generally hemispherical shape defining a peaked apex 26 that fits into a complementary depression (not shown) on the lower surface of the fuel element. The wick holder 20 includes a base portion 28 shaped to fit closely over the capillary lobe 22, a wick receiver 30 for receiving the wick 18 therethrough, and heat fins 32. The fuel charge 16 includes an opening therethrough, such as a slot 34, through which the wick 18, wick retainer 30, and heat fins 32 may pass. The fuel charge 16 is shown as a wax puck, although other shapes may also be used. In one embodiment, a starter bump of fuel (not shown) may be provided in close proximity to the wick 18 to provide ready fuel for lighting the wick.
In an operational configuration, as shown in FIG. 2, the fuel element 14 is positioned on the melting plate 10 with the base 28 of the wick holder 20 positioned over the capillary lobe 22 (not shown) and the bottom surface (not shown) of the fuel charge 16 contacting the bottom wall 24. A capillary space (not shown) is formed between the capillary lobe 22 and the base 28 to transfer liquid fuel from the bottom wall 24 upwardly to the wick 18 by capillary action when a flame is burning on the wick.
Turning to FIGS. 3 and 4, a melting plate candle assembly of another embodiment of the present invention includes a support plate, such as a melting plate 50, carried by a support base 52 and a fuel element 54. The fuel element 54 has a depression 56 in a bottom surface 58 thereof that fits over a capillary lobe 60 in a bottom wall 62 of the melting plate 50 such that the bottom surface of the fuel element surrounding the depression is in thermal communication with the bottom wall, such as, for example by being disposed on the bottom wall. In the pictured embodiment, the capillary lobe 60 has a generally conical shape having a substantially smooth outer surface and a rounded peaked apex 64, and the depression 56 has a conical shape generally complementary to the shape of the capillary lobe. The bottom wall 62 and the capillary pedestal 60 are formed of a thermally transmissive, or highly heat conductive, material, such as aluminum. In other embodiments, the capillary lobe 60 has a pointed peaked apex with a roughened or stepped outer surface, and can have any shape generally defining a peaked apex, such as, for example, pyramidal, egg shaped, an elongate ridge, etc. The capillary lobe 60 is disposed at a low point of the bottom wall 62, which has a generally dished or concave shape, so that liquid fuel, such as melted wax and/or oil, will flow toward the capillary lobe.
In one embodiment, the fuel element 54 includes a wick holder 66 carrying a wick 68, which are at least partly surrounded or encompassed by a fuel charge 70, such as a wax puck. The wick holder 66, which includes a wick receiver 72 extending from a base portion, such as a skirt 74, and heat fins 76, is formed substantially of a heat conductive material, such as aluminum, and is disposed through a slot 78 in the fuel charge 70. The skirt 74 is disposed in and at least partly defines the depression 56, and the wick 68 extends above an upper surface of the fuel charge 70. The skirt 74 is generally conically shaped complementary to the shape of the capillary lobe 60 and includes, for example, a Ferro-magnetic material, such as steel rivets 80, which is magnetically attracted to a magnet 82 disposed underneath the capillary lobe. The steel rivets 80 maintain a small gap, or capillary space 84, between the skirt 74 and the capillary lobe 60 through which liquid fuel travels upwardly from the bottom wall 62 to the wick receiver 72. The wick receiver 72 maintains the wick 68 in a preselected position above the peaked apex 64 to draw the liquid fuel from the capillary space 84 when a flame 86 is burning on the wick.
FIGS. 5 and 6, show another embodiment of a melting plate candle assembly. FIG. 5 is a simplified perspective view of a melting plate candleholder 100, showing a capillary lobe, such as a capillary pedestal 102 having a frustoconical shape with a flat top, but absent a wick holder and candle or fuel charge. The candleholder 100 is of a decorative shape, which may be of any suitable shape for the use intended, with an open top for placement of a fuel element upon a melting plate 104. The melting plate 104 in turn has a raised capillary pedestal 102 near the center of the melting plate, upon which a wick holder or fuel element may be positioned. The candleholder 100 has a bowl like configuration, with raised edges to confine and hold a liquefied fuel. The melting plate 104, as previously indicated, may be of any heat conductive material, such as aluminum, and may be bonded adhesively to the surface of the candleholder by conventional means, or may be otherwise held in position.
- Industrial Applicability
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the melting plate candle assembly of FIG. 5, showing the candleholder 100, the melting plate 104, and a fuel element 105, including a wick holder 106, such as a wick clip assembly, and a fuel charge 108, in a preselected operative position. The candleholder 100 may be of any material, such as glass, metal, plastic, wood, ceramic, or other material suitable for the intended use. The melting plate 104 constitutes a bottom wall 110 having a bowl like structure secured in place in the candleholder 100, such as with adhesive 112. The melting plate 104 may have a decorative design embossed, printed, engraved, etched, or carved into the surface thereof. At or near the center of the melting plate 104, and thus the candleholder 100, a raised capillary pedestal 102 is positioned to engage the wick holder 106. The wick holder 106 includes means, such as a wick receiver 114, to hold and position a wick 116 in an appropriate position and location above the capillary pedestal 102 to contact liquid fuel in a capillary space 118 between the wick holder and the capillary pedestal. A magnet 120 is positioned beneath the capillary pedestal 102 and held to the bottom of the melting plate 104, such as with adhesive. In another embodiment, the magnet 120 is positioned, either loosely or adhesively or otherwise held, upon the surface of the candleholder 100 beneath the capillary pedestal 102. The wick holder 106 is positioned over the capillary pedestal 102 so as to engage the capillary pedestal and to provide a capillary flow of liquid fuel, such as melted wax, to a base end of the wick 116. To provide retention of the wick holder 106 on the capillary pedestal 102, the wick holder encompasses one or more magnetic metal inserts 122, such as rivets, to engage the magnetic force of the magnet 120 located below the pedestal. The magnetic metal inserts 122 may be of any material that is attracted magnetically to the magnet 120 and may alternatively constitute metal screws, rivets, clips, etc. The fuel charge 108 of the fuel element 105 is positioned so as to cooperatively engage both the melting plate 104 and the wick holder 106.
The melting plate candle assembly and heat conductive element candles of the present invention, utilizing a capillary pedestal and correspondingly shaped wick holder, can be used in connection with a large variety of both solid and liquid fuels. The conductive materials of which the melting plate and heat fins may be constructed are commonly available, and the various configurations are readily produced. There is considerable interest for candles having extended bum times, and for refillable candles or solid fuel lamps, particularly for melting plate candles which are resistant to accidental release of the wick holder assembly. In addition, a solid fuel charge carrying a volatile active is quickly melted on the melting plate to begin rapid disbursement of the active volatile to the surrounding atmosphere. The capillary lobe construction allows for complete or nearly complete consumption of the fuel charge while the peaked apex thereof ensures or promotes proper positioning of the complementary fuel element thereon to take advantage of the benefits of the melting plate candle assembly.
Features of the melting plates and fuel elements of the present invention may also be incorporated into candle assemblies such as those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,780,382 and 6,802,707, U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 10/939,039, 10/978,646, 10/938,453, and 11/012,707, and the U.S. patent application by Kubicek et al., filed May 6, 2005, entitled “Candle Assembly and Wick Holder with Improved Capillary Well for Ensuring Sustainable Relight,” all of which are incorporated by reference in the entireties thereof herein.
Numerous modifications to the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art in view of the foregoing description. Accordingly, this description is to be construed as illustrative only and is presented for the purpose of enabling those skilled in the art to make and use the invention and to teach the best mode of carrying out same. The exclusive rights to all modifications within the scope of the impending claims are reserved.