Tips On How To Reduce Candle Soot

One of the biggest complaints about candles of all kinds is in regards to the soot that can be produced by them.  There are a variety of ways to greatly reduce the amount of soot coming from your candles which will also help them to burn better.  Today I will share some of these candle burning tips with you to help you have a better experience with you candles and save money. Lets first understand what causes soot from a candle flame.

What Causes Candle Soot

Soot from a candle is caused when there is incomplete combustion of the fuel.  This can be caused by a number of factors.  Two of those factors are the balance between the wax and wick in the candle and disturbing the candle flame.  The fuel to the candle flame is the liquid wax which is being drawn up through the wick.  Once the flame of the candle has started drawing the liquid candle wax up the wick, it does so at a steady rate.  When the candle flame is disturbed the size of the flame changes and the amount of fuel being used is no longer consistent.  When too much fuel is presented to the flame it is not all burned.  The excess fuel is put off in the form of soot.

Avoid Burning Candles in Drafty Areas

Burning candles in a drafty area such as near an open window, air duct, or fan will cause your candle to put off a large amount of soot.  When something causes the candle flame to bounce around the size of candle flame changes.  A steady flame will use a consistent amount of fuel.  A wick that is bouncing around will draw fuel up the wick at a variable rate, sometimes too much, other times, not enough.  When a large amount of fuel is drawn into the wick and then the flame size shrinks, not all the fuel is burned.  The extra oil is expelled as soot into the air.

Use Open Bottom Hurricanes and Vases

candle in hurricanneMany event locations, where candles are used for decoration, require that the candle flame not be exposed above the top of an enclosure.  This could mean the flame of your votive candle must be below the top edge of the glass or that pillars and taper candles need to be in tall cylinders or hurricanes.  At first this sounds like a good idea to also keep the draft away from your candles, and it is.  However, using a closed bottom cylinder or vase can create problems of its own.  Fire needs and uses oxygen to burn.  When you have a candle down inside of a container the oxygen is quickly used up and more is needed for the flame to continue burning.  Naturally, more air is sucked into the container through the top but at the same time the warm air heated by the candle flame is trying to get out.  This fight between the warm and cold air causes turbulence (a draft) in the container which causes the candle flame to dance and produce soot.  The best way around this problem is to use a cylinder or hurricane vase that is open on both ends.  Raise the container up off the table about a half inch using something that can spaced apart so air can get in through the bottom.  For my test I used 3 stacks of coins, which I am not recommending you use, but to give an example of what I mean.

Put Candle Cappers On Jar Candles

If you are burning a jar candle with an opening of about 3″ you can purchase a candle capper for less than $4.00.  Obviously there is nothing you can do about the jar having a closed bottom but these jar cappers will help regulate the air flow in and out of the jars and reduce sooting.  Jars will usually produce more and more soot the further down into the glass they burn.  This is because the flame is getting farther and farther away from the fresh source of oxygen. Here is a video that demonstrates how these jar caps work.

Trim The Wicks

The easiest way to reduce the amount of soot from a candle is to keep the wicks trimmed.  I recommend starting with about a 1/4″ wick for the first lighting.  If after a few minutes the candle flame looks too big or is bouncing around (while not in a draft) you should trim the wick a little shorter.  Keep an eye on your lit candles, they should never be left burning unattended.  If your candle has been burning for a long time the wicks may need to be trimmed again.  Don’t be afraid to blow a candle out, trim the wick and relight it.

Purchase Quality Candles

Make sure you are getting a well made candle.  A well made quality candle doesn’t mean expensive, it means well made.  Anyone can melt some wax through a string in it and call it a candle.  Is it a candle? Yes. Will it burn? Maybe.  Should you spend your hard earned money on it? Probably not.  The internet is full of pages on which people are selling candles.  Google search term candles, currently there are 165,000,000 results.  An experienced candle maker will know how to match the wick size, wax type, fragrance, and candle size to produce a great burning candle.

Conclusion

Use these tips to get the most value and the best burn out of your candles.

Advertisements

Cover The Smell Of Cigarette Smoke

cigarette smoke

One of the commonly asked questions in our candle shop is “Do you have anything that will cover the smell of cigarette smoke?” I am not a smoker, my wife is not a smoker, in fact nobody in my house smokes, my parents didn’t even smoke.  I really don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke as is the case with many people.  Often times the smell of cigarette smoke can become a point of tension between people living in the same house where one smokes and the other does not.  We have a candle that will help eliminate the smell of cigarette smoke from your home and help relieve some of that tension.  The name of this amazing candle fragrance is “Smoke Eater”.  Before you picture an army of smoke eater Pacmen charging forth and devouring the smoke particles out of the air, that isn’t quite how it works.

There are a number of different sections of olfactory sensors in your nose, similar to the taste buds on your tongue.  These sensors pick up different types of odors like sweet, dry, tart, spicy, etc.  The particles from the cigarette smoke interact with a variety of these sensors causing your brain to recognize the scent.  The fragrance from our Smoke Eater candles counter balance the negative smell of the cigarette smoke, neutralizing it.  Then adds positive, pleasant aromas which causes your brain to tell you that you are smelling something which is good.

Like I started off this post, I have never lived with a smoker so I can’t speak from personal experience.  However, we have repeat customers who live with smokers and swear by our Smoke Eater scented candles.  We offer this fragrance in our scented pillars, votives, jars, tealights, and tins.  Once you have had a chance to try this fragrance in your own home, leave a comment and let us know what you thought.

Why do my candles “tunnel” and can I fix them?

tunneling candleAs I have been skimming over candle related questions posted by people online I have seen the topic of tunneling come up quite often.  For those of you who do not know what tunneling means in relation to candles, it is when the candle burns straight down the middle and not out to the edges.  The point of this post is to explain a few reasons why a candle may tunnel and how to try and fix the problem.  I mean lets face it, nobody wants to toss a candle that has hardly been used.

Two of the main reasons a candle could tunnel are poor quality and too many short burns.  In the case of poor quality, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the wax was bad or the fragrance was cheap but most likely the wrong wick was used in the candle.  If the size of the wick is too small, it doesn’t create a large enough flame, which in turn doesn’t create enough heat to melt the wax.  What you want to see when you burn a jar candle or votive, (any type of container candle) is for the wax pool to reach all the way to the edge.

Sometimes the tunneling effect is caused by too many short burns.  Take note to the size of candle you are burning and to how long you are going to leave it lit.  If you know you will have to extinguish the candle in an hour or even two, light a smaller one like a votive or tealights.  A 4″ diameter jar candle won’t usually melt out to the edge in an hours time.  A few short burns in a row will start your candle tunneling.  What starts to happen next is as the flame works its way down into the candle it starts to melt wax off the walls.  This wax runs down the sides and fills up the hole around the wick and drowns it out.  Once that happens, relighting the candle will not work.

So how do you fix a candle that has tunneled? The easiest way to get fix your candle is to remove all of the waxtunneling candle fixed that is higher than the area around the wick.  Use a butter knife or a fork to carve away the built up wax.  You can use that wax in candle warmer or toss it in the trash.  If you try to light your candle it may not easily light.  This is because the wick is not long enough due to the liquid wax which ran down into the hole surrounding the wick.  When the wax hardens it leaves the wick to short to light.  You can carve some of the wax away from the wick and try lighting it.  A better option is to lay the candle on its side, use your lighter to melt the wax away from around the wick and pour it into the trash.  Relight your candle and make sure that you allow the wax pool to reach the edge before blowing it out.

For the poor quality candle you can do a temporary fix using the method above however you will need to repeat the process after a few burns because the candle will not ever melt all the way to the edges.

Putting Candles in the Freezer Does NOT Help.

Watch this experiment done by Jeff, the owner of Keystone Candle company which compares the burning two identical candles.  The only difference is that one of the taper candles was left in the freezer overnight.

You can tell that putting the candles in the freezer, it did not cause the taper to burn longer, and it caused the pillar candle to crack.  Don’t take the chance of ruining your candles, just light and enjoy.

Freezing Candles – Bad Idea

There is an on-going debate about whether putting candles in the freezer (before using them) is a good idea.  The main reason for wanting to put candles in the freezer is the misconceived idea that it will make them burn longer.  At first this seems pretty logical  since a candle doesn’t get used up until the wax is liquefied and burns. The idea follows that if it is frozen, a candle will take longer to melt because it is cold.

Unfortunately this idea doesn’t work.  Not only will your candle not burn longer, but freezing it could cause your candles to crack.  I did a test putting votive candles and pillar candles in the freezer.  I got out my stop watch and started timing (I already knew they would crack, just not how long it would take).  I planned on checking the candles every 15 minutes to see how long it took them to crack.  I went to check on them at the first 15 minutecandles crack in the freezer mark… the votives and the pillars were already cracked when I opened the freezer door! I don’t mean just 1 small crack either!  Check out this picture. There is no way that the pillar candle could be used because if it was lit, the liquid wax would start to drain out the cracked areas in no time at all.  The votive candles could still be used since they are meant to be burned in a votive cup which would contain the liquid wax.

I did the same test with 3 different types of taper candles. And after a little over an hour they had still not cracked.  I did not do the test with a jar candle but I don’t think that there would be a problem with those cracking either.  Our jar candles are made with a lower melt temperature wax which is a littler softer.  The softer wax shouldn’t contract enough for it to crack.  Even if the wax in the jar did crack, you should still be able to burn the candle since the wax is contained…in a jar. To be safe, just make sure your glass isn’t cracked too.  What may happen to a jar candle in the freezer is that the fragrance may be squeezed out of the wax, leaving oil all around the inside of the glass and on top of the candle.

Now, about the candles being frozen and burning longer…The first thing is that when you put a candle in the freezer, if left in long enough, it will get cold all the way to the core.  (We are assuming for this part of the debate that the candle made it through the freezing process unscathed.)  As soon as you take the candle out of the freezer it will begin to go back to room temperature.  The outside of the candle will warm faster than the inside of the candle.  I think that what most supporters (of a frozen candle burning longer) forget, is that when you light a candle you are only heating/melting a small portion of the outside of the candle.  The flame is not pulling wax from the colder core of the candle.  The approximate peak temperature of a candle flame is between 1300 – 1400 degrees C (2500 degrees F) depending on the type of wax/wick being burned.  So when the candle is lit, the surface area of the candle around the flame will warm up far above room temperature extremely fast, undoing any effect the freezer may have had on the candle.  As the wax melts, it will heat up more and more of the surface of the candle faster than if the candle were just left to sit on a table unlit.  By the time you get to burning the “core” of the candle it will have long lost the effect the freezer had on it.

Save your freezer space for important things, like cookie dough ice-cream.  If you want to get the cleanest, longest burn out of your candles, trim your wicks before each lighting.  Always allow enough time to burn your candles long enough.  For pillars, let the “wax pool” get out near the edge; for jars, let the “wax pool” reach the side of the jar.  One of the fastest ways to ruin your candle is to light it over and over putting it out too early each time.  Follow these two basic rules of thumb and get the most out of your candles.

CBS News Video – Burning Candles Safely

I just watched this news video done by CBS news on burning candles safely. It was a well done video and has some helpful information in it. I thought I’d share it just as a reminder to make sure to use your candles safely. Many times we (myself included) burn candles so frequently that we forget that if we are not careful we could injure our children or pets, or cause damage to our homes. The number one thing to keep in mind that was not mentioned in the news broadcast is NEVER leave a burning candle unattended. If you have to leave a room where a candle is lit, either blow the candle out or carefully take it into the other room with you. One of the most common areas I have seen lit candles left alone is in bathrooms. Many times the candles are left lit on the back of toilets. I don’t think that the back of a toilet is a good place for a lit candle because someone with long hair, or a hooded sweatshirt could end up catching themselves on fire. Keep lit candles out of the reach of children. I know when my two girls were younger they were fascinated by the flicker candle flame. They also knew that the whole purpose of lighting candles was to blow them. Where did they learn that? The joy of blowing out birthday candles of course. So to kids, candles are a fun play thing. Please, please, please use candles responsibly. Now that everyone is terrified of candles, come check out our site for a wide selection of candles at really affordable prices.

Is The Scent Gone?

scented candlesWhen we make our scented candles the fragrance is added to the liquid wax prior to pouring it into the molds or glass jars. So the candle is scented the same strength from top to bottom. This is how most candle manufacturers make their candles. Occasionally we get a customer that says when they first light a candle it smelled but after a while the scent was gone. The easiest way to explain this is the “fish analogy”. If you have ever cooked fish in your kitchen you instantly smell it as it heats up and for a long time after it has been eaten but eventually you stop noticing it altogether. The fishy smell is gone. However, if someone else comes into your home they can instantly tell you cooked fish for dinner. So why can they smell it and you cant? The olfactory receptors in your nose that detect smell become accustom to it and have stopped sending neurological signals to your brain to tell you that fish is in the air. One of the easiest ways to get around this issue is to use multiple conflicting fragrances, one at a time. Burn one fragrance for a while then switch to another and so on. This helps to continually stimulate the sensors in your nose and trigger the signal to your brain. There are some poor quality candles out there that don’t have a very strong scent, you’re on your own to figure those out. Just remember, you can get a great smelling candle without spending a ton of money on a name brand.