Here’s a curious tidbit regarding the fumata, the white or black smoke that will rise from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney signaling whether a pope has been elected or not.
It is sometimes hard to distinguish the actual color of the smoke, such as in 2005. Back then, I knew for sure there was a successful vote for pope when I saw the fumata in the middle of the afternoon session, even though it was difficult to tell if it was white or black.
Here’s why. Cardinals cast two ballots in the morning and another two ballots in the afternoon. However, if a pope is successfully elected after the first of the two ballots, then their votes are burned and white chemicals are added to report a positive outcome. Otherwise, they wait to burn both ballots all in one fumata.
At the very end of the morning or afternoon the smoke can be white or black. But if we see the fumata mid-morning or mid-afternoon, then it has to be white for a successful election.