Understanding Soot: What is it and where does it come from?
Everyday use and research indicates that properly burned candles, whether scented or unscented are safe and are not a significant source of soot.
Soot can be caused by a variety of common sources found within residences, including a fireplace, gas stove, furnace and the very act of cooking. According to Eric Wigg, a noted toxicologist and wax expert, these sources will produce more soot than a properly burning candle. Comprised primarily of small carbon particles, soot is a natural by-product of incomplete combustion. This phenomenon occurs when the soot particles escape the flame and settle on flat surfaces, such as floors, walls or even the border around fireplaces. But soot is not the only thing that can settle on these surfaces. In any given house, there are literally millions of airborne particles that can adhere to walls, floors, furniture or electronic products, such as TV sets or computers. These particles, such as dust, dirt or pollen, are naturally found inside homes. Other substances from sources such as barbecues, cars or burning leaves can enter through openings in the home.
Ensuring Proper Burning of Candles.
It is important to understand that soot has always existed, and always will. But there are some simple ways to minimize soot and ensure that candles are used safely, burn evenly and properly.
- Keep wicks trimmed to 1/4″ to 3/8”. Remove wick trimmings and do not allow parts of a burned match to fall into the candle. This will ensure that the flame does get too large and result in excess smoke or soot.
- Ensure proper fresh air ventilation in the home. New homes are built to prevent the loss of heated or air conditioned air, but this can cause the inside of the house to become stale. For good health, all homes should provide some fresh air ventilation.
- Keep candles away from vents and strong drafts. Drafts can cause insufficient burning or smoke. Consumers can generally tell if a candle is in a draft by watching the flame. If a candle flame is wildly flickering, extinguish it and move the candle to an area with less or no draft.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended. Remain close by to monitor any changes in the size or flickering of the flame, which can lead to excess smoke.
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and away from pets and anything burnable
Consumers have relied on candles to provide light, warmth and atmosphere for hundreds of years. By following these simple steps and warning signs, consumers can continue to enjoy candles for years to come.