Which candles are soot free?
I have recently had a few people ask me what sooting is and which wax is soot free. Since I will soon be releasing my new vegan soy candles, I wanted to delve into the topic of sooting and common misconceptions.
When candles make black marks on walls, or if you see a black whisp of smoke twist up from your candle flame it’s because of “sooting”. (I hate sooting!) luckily, there are a few things you can do to reduce sooting that can leave marks on your walls.
All wax can soot, (yes that includes 100% vegan soy!) It’s a misconception that 100% soy candles will not soot. Sooting actually has to do with the combustion (burning) of the fuel and the conditions in which that combustion is taking place. Soot is a byproduct of the combustion (burning) of the fuel (wax) and the conditions that are needed to produce a perfect flame. This means a candle will need the exact perfect amount of oxygen and fuel source to be completely soot-less. This is almost impossible to guarantee since candles are controlled and burned under all sorts of different conditions which are controlled by the user (customer).
There are, however, many conditions that can be controlled to reduce the amount of soot or byproduct a flame in a candle will produce. Three major factors that play into reducing soot are wick size, wick trimming and burn time. Let's explore those factors...
"Size matters" Wick size is determined by the candle maker after doing extensive research to find the exact wick to go with the wax, fragrance and vessel size and thickness. Most chandlers will take months to years to perfect their candle and wick choices. Fragrance load also plays a factor in sooting, so if a candle claims to have doubled max load fragrance or over loaded fragrance, please remember the oils in the scents can lead to unwanted byproduct in your flame and also can cause more sooting. Candle makers should follow the specific load guidelines for each wax. Following these guidelines along with due diligence and proper testing on the chandlers part should ensure the perfect amount of fragrance is blended into each candle.
"Slow burn." Wick trimming is a user responsibility and is extremely important in terms of candle safety and performance. It is recommended that candle wicks are trimmed to 1/4” every time before lighting. This will help keep the flame to the appropriate size to melt the wax but not too large that it gets so hot it is producing soot or possibly so hot that it busts the glass vessel. (Wick trimming is so important!) Wick trimming will also give you an overall longer burn time which allows you to enjoy your candle longer! You can trim your wick by purchasing a wick trimming kit or simply use a pair of scissors. I gauge 1/4" by comparing it to about the height of a pencil eraser. (I will get into more details on wick trimming in a new blog post, stay tuned!)
"Don't you, forget about me" Burn time- it is recommended that a candle burn no longer than 4 hours at a time. This helps keep the heat from reaching high temps (which produce soot and are a fire hazard) So, when burning your candle, always put it out after four hours (I set an Alexa timer to remind myself, because yes I’m that forgetful!). After the wax has cooled, you can re-light and enjoy that beautiful fragrance again!
I have been working with a handful of vessels and two different wax types for over a year, just to produce a slow burning candle that produces an inviting but not over powering scent. I hope these tips will help maximize your candle burning experiences, and hopefully helped you understand a little more about the topic!
As with any topic, there is always much more that we can dive into. We never stop learning! I always love to hear from my customers and other candle makers. The community of support that I have found since I began this journey has been uplifting, educational and inspiring! Happy candle burning, friends!