What Causes Candles To Smoke And How To Avoid It

Candles should be a calming experience, so avoiding any issues that may be caused by the candle is key to making sure it stays a calming experience. Candles are open flame, so there is an inherent risk to burning them—how can you mitigate that risk to create a calming environment?

What causes candles to smoke?

Candles smoke because the candle flame is not able to effectively burn the hot wax due to lack of oxygen. Combustion will then remain incomplete and cause the candle to smoke. To prevent this, make sure your candle is getting enough steady but not drafty air flow, your wick is trimmed, and your candle is in the properly sized container. You should also not burn your candle for more than the suggested time frame. 

Candles can have additional issues, though, and when it comes to safety, you should be aware of how to prevent those issues from happening. So how do you stop your candle from smoking, or how can you prevent it from happening in the first place? What other issues might you face when burning a candle? Read on to find out more. 

What happens when my candle starts smoking?

When your candle starts smoking, it is due to the fact that your candle flame cannot burn all its fuel, or the hot wax, efficiently, most frequently due to a lack of oxygen. Because of this, combustion remains incomplete, and you get carbon instead in the form of soot. 

How do I stop my candle from smoking?

What Causes Candles To Smoke And How To Avoid It.

There are a number of reasons that your candle can smoke, and usually it leads back to the wick, container size, location in your home, or burn time. 

One reason your candle may be smoking is its placement. If you have your candle in some sort of drafty area, it can actually make more smoke since it cannot get enough air. Strong air currents can also affect your candle’s flame, making your candle smoke more. Place it in a room or area that does not have a steady breeze or shift in the air currents.

You should also consider trimming your wick—avoiding a large flame will also help reduce smoke. When your candle is unlit, make sure your wick is about a quarter of an inch high for best results. This length of wick will allow your candle to burn evenly and pull the right amount of wax to fuel the flame. 

Another issue that causes smoking

Is the container size. If your candle is smoking, make sure that your candle is in a large enough container. Because the flame uses the oxygen inside the container to fuel the fire and the flame itself is producing its own air flow, the two can get mixed as the flame burns and cause issues in burning. To fix this, make sure the container is open on both sides to allow for the air flow, or put your candle in a large container or vase. 

An additional issue to your candle smoking is the burn time. If you burn it too long, it can clog the wick, and if that happens, you may find your candle smoking. To fix that, make sure you burn your candles for a few hours and let it cool completely before you relight it. 

If your candle does have soot around it, that could also cause smoking. Cleaning it with a paper towel or a paper towel with rubbing alcohol can help to remove soot, but if you use the latter, make sure the candle is fully dry before burning again. 

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How can I stop my candle from being full of soot?

Candle smoking can also cause a lot of soot around the container of the candle. When combustion occurs, the carbon in the wax reacts with the oxygen in the air to create the flame, but as it burns, smoke can be created that mixes in with steam—which then creates soot. 

Much like containing a smoking candle, you can eliminate the possibility of soot by making sure it is in a well-ventilated area that is not affected by a breeze. Like the smoking candle, make sure it is in the properly sized container and the wick is trimmed to about a quarter of an inch. 

Another way to prevent this if you are making your own candles is to go with a cotton wick. It will work best to provide a cleaner burn for your candle. 

If you find your candle container sooty regardless, there is a way to clean it up. Make sure the candle is cooled and not burning, then use a paper towel to clean up the soot. If you cannot get the soot off the container, try using a paper towel with rubbing alcohol. Let the candle dry completely before attempting to light it again. 

What happens if my candle flame is too large?

If your candle flame is too large or has too high of a flame, your candle is also burning too hot. This could cause a fire hazard in the worst-case scenario, and in the best-case scenario, it could burn through your candle faster and is just not aesthetically pleasing. 

You should also watch your candle flames so your candle does not get too hot for the express purpose of safety—not only could a large flame catch something on fire, but if your candle is too hot, it could shatter your glass container. 

How do you fix this? In the first case, your wick may be too thick for your candle, and if so, there isn’t anything you can do to make this better. More frequently than that, your wick is too long. Trimming your wick to about a quarter of an inch will help keep the flame from burning too largely. 

How do I stop my wick from mushrooming?

How do I stop my wick from mushrooming?

A mushrooming wick occurs when the wick starts to have a black cap on the end, which can make lighting the candle difficult. When burning your candle, the carbon particles will collect at the end of the wick. One of the reasons for this is not using the properly sized wick, and if you purchased the candle, that cannot be helped. The best way to stop your wick from mushrooming is burning the candle for the maximum allotted time and making sure your wick is trimmed. A quarter of an inch on the wick is the best for optimal burning. If you find your candle wick is angled, you can trim the wick to sit more properly in your candle to prevent it from happening again. 

How do I stop my candle from tunneling?

Another issue that you may face that could be caused by a large flame or smoking candle is tunneling. Essentially, a candle burns only down the center of its wax, leaving more wax along the edges of the candle. The best way to avoid this is by burning your candle for at least up to three hours on its very first burn. Doing this will let all the wax melt all the way to the edges of the container, which will allow it to burn completely each subsequent burn. 

If you find this happening anyway, the wick may be too small in your candle. If you are making your own candles, this is an important lesson to learn—test your wicks first!

While candles are fun and can create an environment, it’s important to burn them safely. Make sure you maintain your candle by trimming the wick, burning it in a well-ventilated room, and making sure that the candle container works best for the candle. Whether you’re just burning for fun or making your own candles, it’s important to remember those tips—and you too can have a stress-free candle burning experience. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is candle smoke bad for your health?
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Candle smoke can vary on whether it is bad for your health. If your candle is all natural with a natural wick, candle wax, and essential oil fragrances, it will not give off toxic fumes and is actually healthy for you to burn. If you use paraffin wax with fragrance oils or non-natural candle supplies, there is the possibility for some lung irritation from the smoke, as they can create toxic fumes. 

Can candles set off fire alarms?

While it has happened, candles setting off fire alarms is extremely rare. Unless your candle is giving off an excessive amount of smoke, it should not trigger your smoke alarm. Note that some smells can set off a fire alarm, so be aware that if your candle has a heavy burning smell, it could trigger it as much as smoke can. 

How do I stop my candle from sweating?

Another issue you may face with your candle is that it appears to be sweating. What happens in this situation is that the candle fragrance oils—no matter whether they’re fragrance oils or essential oils—start to sweat. This is not an issue unless you prefer to clean up the excess oils. 

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Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.

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