Soot from candles on walls and ceiling

bonnieann925December 3, 2011

I feel like I must been living under a rock to not know this, but watch out for those Yankee candles and other scented candles because they can leave soot residue on your walls and ceiling.

Right before Thanksgiving, while in my cleaning frenzy, I noticed how dark the walls in our half bath had become. It was right near the area where we keep a large candle (or so I thought). When I washed it, this black mess came off and left horrible streaks. Off to Google it: soot from candles.

I bought a soot sponge at the hardware store, which helped to some degree. However, it was over all the walls and ceiling, as became apparent when I took the paintings down. I tried every suggestion and even Mr. Clean Magic Erasers left streaks. I just finished washing w/ TSP this week and painting this a.m.(not something I enjoy at this busy time of year!)

No more candles here! Thought I'd pass this along to save others the work I just went through.

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Your wicks are too long giving off too much smoke. That being said, remember that when you wash walls you go from the bottom up. That way any drips will run down the wet walls on the bottom, not causing streaks. If you start from the top down, the water/solution runs and makes streaks that are almost impossible to remove. But I understand your frustration about the candles, as much as I love them (oil lamps can do the same thing).

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 8:54AM
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Soot is one of the reasons that I use battery-operated candles. They may not be quite as beautiful, but my walls and ceilings are much cleaner.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 8:54AM
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If you use jar candles, extinguish them by putting the lid back on, it helps.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 9:24AM
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There's an Amway product called LOC. First, I don't sell Amway. However, this stuff is EXCELLENT for removing restaurant grease. It even removed lipstick from an entire load of laundry when I washed and dried one in my apron.

Diluted it's a great wash, concentrated on a spot it seems to dissolve it. I wont' do without it. With a DH in construction, many times it proved to be amazing.

Another thing I've learned about candles is that if you trim the wicks properly, they don't burn with so much soot. Also, that company Party Lights, I think they're called, claim their candles put off far less soot than others, naming Yankee Candle by name.

Couldn't prove any of that by me, but being forced to attend two of these parties in a month last year, I bought some that smelled beautiful. Haven't lit them because my cats find candles to be fascinating, but the scents are great. :)

Sorry you're going thru such a mess.

OH!! I have a friend that lights the fat kind of candles outside until they burn down and soften in the middle. She scoops them out deeply and sticks a battery operated candle down in them!! They look like they're actually burning and pretty.

Just another idea!


    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 9:31AM
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I noticed when burning candles, rafters are darkened near where the wall and ceiling join. Once can see the out line of a 2x4 at this point along the ceiling. I have never been a fan of candles, outside of one on my stove for cooking odors, for this reason. Given the ceiling texture in most homes washing is not an option.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 9:31AM
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That happened to me one time during a power outage when I had a small hurricane oil lamp burning on top of the armoire in the bathroom. Ceilings are not very high in the bathroom and are painted white - took a wet rag to it and made a bigger mess. It's been that way now for years, a big smoky smudge. I'll look for that Amway product, sounds promising.

1 Like    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 10:51AM
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I have a ban on Yankee candles in my home because of this exact problem. We repainted most of our downstairs and were shocked at how much dirty soot had accumulated on walls and ceilings. I love the fragrance and ambiance of the candles but won't buy them anymore now that my walls are newly painted.

I have found smokless, dripless tapers for my table. And in place of fragrant candles I have some of those scented reed things. Just opened one up today from "Thymes" in a woodsy pine scent. It's quite pleasant.

Off to buy some battery operated votives lol.


1 Like    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:06AM
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That's one reason I never burn candles, I just sit the jar or container on a candle warmer plate & use them that way. Lasts a lot longer, too.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:06AM
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I look at it this way, if the soot is so bad on the walls, just think of that accumulating in your lungs.....

1 Like    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:33AM
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Just checked the candle that usually burns as it sits on the breakfast bar in our kitchen -- and there is a smooth white bulk-head-type ceiling not far (but far enough above it for safe burning - of course!) above -- and the ceiling is quite clean!

I do trim the wicks every time I light a candle of any sort -- and when the wick is cool -- retwist to tighten the weave of the wick. And use it own glass lid to damp/snuff it -- or a snuffer.

Right now I have real, rolled beeswax taper candles in the holders on the fireplace mantle -- and on the dining room table. Will check for any smoke problems around them .....

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:43AM
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Google Lampe Bergere. I believe there is a thread on the conversations side about them. I just purchased some today at a local shop in my town. I don't see myself burning candles anymore.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 10:13PM
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While the negative aspects of burning paraffin candles has been known for a long time it's not general knowledge for many people so don't feel bad. That soot can be a real problem and can spread throughout forced air heating systems. The negative indoor air quality from burning paraffin can have serious health consequences.

I burn mostly beeswax candles, occasionally soy wax and use paraffin candles for decor, burn them seldom indoors and trying to use up my stash in the summer on the patio. I've heard it's actually healthy to burn beeswax candles - they do smell nice.

Here is a link that might be useful: health risks with paraffin candles

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:11PM
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"I look at it this way, if the soot is so bad on the walls, just think of that accumulating in your lungs....."

That's how I feel too... and why I do not burn candles in my house.

1 Like    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 5:36PM
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I use mostly soy candles now and I don't believe the soot is a problem with the soy ones. Such a shame because Yankee has some really great scents particularly this tine of year.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 6:06PM
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If I want that candle flame flickering look, I use those little tealights that are battery operated. But for scent, I use the Scentsy wickless candles.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 6:20PM
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All candles will leave soot, even when the wicks are trimmed back. I use to use the soy ones also, and they also blackened the walls and ceiling. Now I use the battery operated ones.

1 Like    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 8:04PM
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I had to ban all candles in rental leases. Had nearly $2000 in soot damage at one, accomplished in only 10 months. Walls, floors, absorbed into the bath grout, vinyl window frames (never did get it all out of those), electrical outlets, carpet. Absolute nightmare. And my HVAC installer said it can mess up the circuit board.

We had to use Kilz primer to seal the walls and then topcoat. Washing only smeared it into a slickness ala wax paper and fire restoration sponges didn't help much.

1 Like    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 8:21PM
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It seems to me that candles shouldn't be lit in rooms that aren't being used. Doesn't anyone else worry about fire?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 11:07AM
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Beeswax is non-allergenic and is a natural air cleaner, recommended by the American Lung Association. It�s the best choice for asthma and allergy sufferers. Beeswax candles burn cleanly, don�t drip when properly used, and have long burn times, saving you money. Be sure that the candles you buy are 100% beeswax � some countries allow as little as 10% beeswax in candles labelled as �beeswax�. Even soy candles are not great: soy is not a wax, therefore it is treated in undesirable ways to make it a wax.

Also see for why fragrances often have undesirable affects.

Yes, the blog is mine & I've read the guidelines for posting. There are a couple of links to my website, but the blog is for education, not sales. I hope this is okay. I couldn't re-post the entire article here! :)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 7:38AM
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Thank you for all the informative and helpful comments. It got worse! After finishing the half bath I tackled a basement bedroom and bathroom. Fortunately I did not have to repaint but did do quite a bit of work removing the soot.

Saturday I bought beeswax candles for our nightly dinner by candlelight. I've sworn off all paraffin candles in our home due to all the information I've read here and elsewhere.

Thanks to all who took time to respond. I'd type more but my hands have not seen that much "hard work" in quite some time!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 5:45PM
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Poor Bannie!
When my painter cousin came to paint at our old house, he yelled at me about the soot from my Yankee Candles. He said to use soy as well...
To try and help with the problem, I also trim the wicks every time I light a candle & often times just use my tea warmer instead of burning the candles.
PS Hope the cruise was wonderful!!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 6:12PM
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I too have had the same issue! I just found out about 4 days ago and I burn nothing but yankee candles!! I had someone come check my heating and air unit thinking it was the culprit. But nope.....the first thing they said was do you burn candles? So after contacting my insurance company and 4 experts was confirmed! I had soot damage allllll over my house from the soot of yankee candles! It got into my return air vent and then the soot got distributed allll over my home! My insurance company hired a fire and restoration company to come in take out all my clothes, shoes, linens, bedding, all my furniture down to my silverware and it all has to be professionally cleaned! They will have to repaint, put in new carpet and my house is a new house!! I am floored and devastated! Yes, I trim my wick EVERY time I use them. From what I have researched online this is a ongoing problem I see and Yankee candle will not respond to me. My friend and my boss posted on Facebook and the comments made by some I am guessing work for the company and does damage control. They refuse to research and investigate! I was told by the experts that while it USE to be is happening more and more now. When I found this site and read the first posted comment I knew I had to post on here. The ones on Facebook did nothing but accuse me of lying, scamming and trying to get my home remodeled! It is a new home!!! I will never ever EVER buy another yankee candle and I have told all my friends. We are letting others know as well, because apparently yankee candle does not care and refuses to even acknowledge there is a problem here. I was not out for insurance money because some insurance companies do not cover. Besides, I am not the one that gets the money, the company doing all the clean up is getting paid.....not me! Not sure if any of you are on Facebood but it would be great if you could go on their site and post that you too had the same issue. Maybe if they had enough people telling them there is a problem maybe they will finally listen. There really needs to be a warning label on the candles. They also sell at Wal-Mart a brand called Mystic Harbor. If you turn it over and read the label on the bottom it states.....A product of Yankee Candle!! Right now just starting the process and living in a hotel room the cost is $25,000.00 and they haven't even started yet. It is even in my refrigeration and microwave!! I am completely blown away!! What a nightmare and over candles that are so expensive to begin with to have it ruin your home like this....something really needs to be done! Thanks for reading my rant but I just had to get this out there! Have a blessed evening!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 4:31PM
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PS....and I also have to see Pulmonary Doctor to get my lungs checked because I have had a nagging cough for a while now and now I wonder if it is from breathing in all this soot!
I was unable to wash my walls or smeared! You can't use water on have to use a rubber like sponge, which of course I found out the hard way. But thanks to all of you that I know I am not losing my mind!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 4:34PM
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soot, etc.Here's an interesting article you need to read re:soot. It may very well have contributed to your cough.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 8:02PM
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