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.


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

Way Too Short?

trimming a candle wickA few posts back I gave a tip on burning candles involving wick trimming. Today I was getting ready to light a candle in my home and I trimmed my wicks prior to lighting it. Lately I have been burning our new 2 wick 12oz soy candles. I trimmed both wicks but on the second one I snipped it a little too short. I went ahead and lit them both to see if it might turn out all right. In about 5 minutes the short wick was out. I realized I should have included a tip in my prior post on how to fix a candle with a wick that is too short. There are two simple methods to use in this situation. If your candle is a multi-wick candle you can try lighting both wicks and see what happens. If after a few minutes the short wick goes out, simply pour out the liquid wax into the trash, trim the longer wick and re-light them. The second method can be used if not enough wax has been liquified or if your candle only has one wick. Using a butter knife, spoon, or other similar object, carve a layer of wax off the top of your candle and throw it out (or put it into a candle warmer). The re-light your candle, grab a book, and relax.

Candle Burning Tip

candle burningOne of the single best things that you can do to keep your candles burn correctly is trim the wicks each time you light it. Candle wicks tend to get a little too long, the longer a candle burns. Of course there are exceptions. If you like to let your candles burn all day it would good to occasionally extinguish it and trim the wick back down to about a 1/4 inch. If you notice that you candles are burning hot (the flame seems big) you can trim the wick even a little shorter. Some fragrances burn a little “easier” than others like vanilla. Make sure that you keep the wick trimmings out of your candle. There are lots of special cutting tools available that will hold the wick piece so it doesn’t fall in. We sell the Wickman Wick Trimmer which works nicely. A pair of scissors works fine too. Keeping your wick the right length will also help reduce sooting.

Don’t be afraid of your candles. If you notice that the wick has drifted out of the center of the candle, use a knife or pair of scissors to move it back to center while the wax is warm.