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How to Reduce or Prevent Black Soot When Burning Candles: 5 Tips

Updated on December 26, 2011
keep the flame stable
keep the flame stable

How to Reduce Soot from Candles: 5 Tips

Candles are a big business in the U.S. and are enjoyed in seven out of 10 households, with annual sales of approximately $2 billion. There are candles designed to suit every desire and need, such as novelty candles, tealights, liturgical candles, tapers and birthday candles. The most popular candles are the container candles, votives and pillars.

More than a billion pounds of wax are used each year in the production of candles. Fragrance is the most important characteristic considered when consumers are shopping.

But what about the black soot?

The way candles are made and burn are direct causes of this black soot, but this can be prevented.

Below are 5 tips to help prevent the soot problem:

1 - Scented candles - Scented candles are a major souce of black soot, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Most of the fragrance oils used in scented candles are unsaturated hydrocarbons - which are liquid at room temperature. This causes the wax to soften and not burn as hot. When the candle burns cooler, it will produce more soot.

Additionally, candle waxes that contain more fragrance comes with a higher concentration of oils in the air and this produces more soot. Bear in mind, too, that you may have no idea what the oils are or even where the candles are made - meaning the oils may be inferior.

2 - The Wick - A common cause of smoke is when the wick is too long, because the flame cannot consume all of the wax being fed to it. Trim the candle wick to 1/4 inch or less - and by doing this you will reduce black soot and allow the candle to burn clean.

3 - The Flame - Make sure you have a small stable flame. A stable flame has a lower emission rate of black soot than a larger flickering flame - which burns with visible black particles, reports the EPA. Also, candles in glass jars cause more soot - when the candle burns down, needed oxygen is reduced.

Soot can also be prevented when you blow out the candle by then cutting off the tip of the wick. Doing this will eliminate emissions caused when a candle smolders. A smoldering candle will create smoke that contains unburned particulate matter.

4 - Drafty Conditions - Drafts in the home will cause uneven or incomplete combustion, and cause brief puffs of black smoke - which is made up primarily of carbon. Check for a still flame - this shows that the candle is burning properly.

5 - Toxic Lead Warning - Lead was commonly used in candle wicks until 1974. The candle-making industry volunteered to discontinue the use of this metal. The lead metal helped keep the cotton candle wicks straight, but served no other purpose. However, this lead use resulted in indoor air concentrations of lead above the EPA-recommended threshold; it spread particles throughout the home leaving soot and metal accumulations. Despite the voluntary ban, lead still remains in some wicks. It's easy to check by feeling the wick in the candle before purchasing.

For more clean living suggestions, see the links below:


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    • profile image

      zimba morgan 2 years ago

      how does addition of orange oil to a parafin wax candle affect its rate of burning,does it make burn faster...

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 5 years ago from New York City

      Leigh - is there any scent in your candles? - and of course it could be the quality. I bought a lovely pink candle with no scent but it was still a mess with black soot- I think this time it may be the coloring. I'm going to give up on candles for awhile. I'm glad you wrote and hope you find a good candle.

    • profile image

      Leigh 5 years ago

      I have done all the suggestions and my candle is still putting off black smoke. I'm hoping that once it burns down more in the jar it will stop that.

    • profile image

      maxie 5 years ago

      Very helpful information indeed well collected. Your efforts to help all of us are greatly appreciated!!!

      Emergency smoke soot cleaning Jacksonville-

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      Sounds ideal LKRG1227 and I'd like to look into it. Maybe you can post a link here so all the readers can have the info too.! Thanks!

    • profile image

      LKRG1227 6 years ago

      I personaly stopped using candles. I will ONLY use the Scentsy system. It uses a light bulb to melt a Safe non toxic (NO SOOT) wax. It wipes easily up if spilt and never too hot to touch! So safe for my kids and plus i just love the warmers! Want to know more Ill can send you my friends info. She sells it

    • GreenThumbLady profile image

      GreenThumbLady 7 years ago from The Beautiful Earth

      This is great information!! It's amazing the things that are so dangerous that we find floating around our homes!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, I use candles all the time, and never thought to cut the wick, so I will definitely try it, thanks for the info, rated up as it will come in handy! lol cheers nell

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 7 years ago

      I find this hub very useful as I love candles. I especially love the scent ones as it removes cooking odor. Thanks for sharing and rating it up.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Thanks for share useful information. I never knew about this before. Have a nice day!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      I have always cut my wicks but it amazes me that no one else that I know does. It's one of those things that i thought was common knowledge with everyone but apparently it's not because my mom doesn't even cut hers....even I have told her. I shall forward this for sure!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Good advice as we have quite a few candles that we burn! Will make sure to snip the wicks as I can see now that that is a problem.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 7 years ago

      great advice. I wasn't aware of the toxic lead used in wicks. wow! who knew?

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I really didn't know about snipping the wick - and now when I buy them the wicks are sooooo long. I just light up - and yes, get all that black smoke. Yikes!

      Well, this is certainly easy and so doable.

      Thanks a million and rated up!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia

      Great tips here especially since so many people love candles! Including myself.