Rock Talk

This is What Candles Can Actually do to Your Air Quality

Last updated on October 28, 2019 at 10:53 am

I have a bizarre homeowner quirk. It is a completely goofy thing, but it’s also very satisfying: I look forward to changing my furnace filter every month.

My furnace is variable-speed and I leave the fan on pretty much all the time – it helps to circulate air in the house and even out the temperature between the levels. It also helps to filter the air.

Each month I pull out the disposable filter to see what it collected – the stuff that I didn’t breathe in – and change it. Last January – I pulled out the filter and was shocked to find that it was almost completely black.

I have a new furnace, so maintenance wasn’t an issue. After a little searching online, I found a potential culprit: candle soot.

Candles were frequently burning in my house at the time. It turns out that certain kinds of scented candles, candles with longer wicks and poor combustion conditions can all cause candle soot emissions.

From the U.S. EPA:

With candles, sooting occurs as a result of incomplete combustion. Candle composition, wick length, and drafty conditions can all affect candle combustion. The amount of soot produced can vary greatly depending on the type of candle. One type of candle can produce as much as 100 times more soot than another.

I can’t say for certain that was the cause, but we put the kibosh on candle-burning and didn’t see the issue again.

While burning scented and unscented candles alike can reduce indoor air quality, the Children’s Environmental Health Network has tips for buying better candles. Here are a few:

  • It is best to opt for safer alternatives to paraffin-based candles, and to take certain precautions before and during their use.
  • Burn only beeswax, soy, or palm oil candles, which burn cleaner and longer than those made with paraffin wax.
  • Trim the wick to one-quarter inch before lighting.

Always remember that candles are an open flame, so take proper precaution to avoid fires. If you haven’t checked or tested your smoke detectors recently, add it to the weekend checklist.

Did you know if your home has features like hardwired fire alarms, you may qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance from Plymouth Rock Assurance?

Click here for more information about insurance in your state.

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