SOOT: The 4-Letter Word for Candle Lovers

I’m a former military spouse. I’ve hung out with people who have the proverbial “sailor’s mouth” – although I’ll say that Marine’s could have their own notorious saying for their potty mouths. I watch shows that have a lot of colorful language and often include all the letters of the alphabet at the beginning of the show. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s gauging their watching experience on the amount of A, L, N, D, S,V’s there are in the opening credits!) I read books that have 4-letter words written as they are spoken, likeachainofwordsandsyllablesalltiedandpresumablyyelledtogether.

So when I say I know dirty 4-letter words, I mean it. I’m being serious AF.

But here’s one 4-letter word I want to help you avoid no matter how many curse words you know: Soot.

And by soot, I mean the black soot that collects around your candle containers. It’s dirty and gross and totally manageable! (I wish I could say avoidable, but science…)

Warning: This post is going to have a combo of easy tips and some science-y stuff as well. If you read the whole thing and want to share with others you can pin this picture!

So soot is really unsightly and makes your candles look dirty. Nobody wants that! As a candle lover or a candle maker we want to avoid that dirty stuff. And there are steps you can take with your candles to reduce the amount of soot or smoke that your candle makes

Before I get into the tips though, I want you to know that I do everything in my power to provide you with high quality, low soot and smoke candles. I use top quality wax, wicks and fragrance oils. I test my candles to ensure that the wicks are the right size for each candle – because different oils, dyes, waxes and containers can require different wicks. However, I can’t fight science and can’t come to your house (even if I wanted to!) to help you take care of your candles.

Are you ready to get this dirty word party started? Let’s kick it off with an acronym to help you remember these tips (you do remember me mentioning I was a military spouse? Acronyms are everything to the military!):


Wait, didn’t I just say that was a dirty 4-letter word? Yes! But I’m flipping the script on this nasty word to create a way to remember how to avoid soot when burning your candles!

S. Snuff it Out

Blowing your candles out only works for birthday cakes! Otherwise you’re just causing the wick to move and causing incomplete combustion*. The best way to extinguish you candles is use a snuffer or wick dipper to avoid messing with the flame and creating smoke and soot.

*Incomplete combustion is our big science-y phrase. When you light a candle the wick is a conduit between the flame and the wax (and fragrance and dyes). The wick sucks up the wax and creates combustion…or a flame! So when the flame or wick is disturbed it creates smoke and then soot builds up on the sides of your containers (and the walls/ceiling nearby).

You also increase the chance of blowing wax out of your container – which is messy and potentially dangerous if the hot wax gets on you or someone else.

O. Open Windows and Drafts are BAD!

A drafty room can really mess with your candle burn results. The draft can move the wick/flame causing incomplete combustion, which is the leading cause of soot. Keep your fans off and windows closed to ensure you get a good burn on your candle – it will impact all use after that as well!

I’ve seen some website recommending opening a window when burning a candle, but I think that’s terrible advice. That actually creates more smoke and soot!

O. Oxygen Flow

Okay, so this one was really new to me…because I’m not super scienc-y. But once I watched this video from U.S. Candle Company it made total sense. So this guy explains why when you candle is burned lower in the container it’s going to create more smoke and soot. Basically it’s struggling for Oxygen! He recommends a candle capper to control the air flow, but an open bottom hurricane can also help with the air flow.

Warning: This is an informative, but rather dry (like your high school drivers ed class dry) video. It doesn’t come with any extra letters in the opening credits – so watch with coffee…

T. Trim the Wick

This is such an easy fix! Every time you want to light up your candle, you must trim it down to 1/4 inch in length. Even on a brand new candle! A long wick creates an unsuitable burn experience…back to that incomplete combustion thing…because the wick is working too hard to to pull the wax up a long wick. A longer wick means a taller flame, which may look romantic, but is a big problem if you are trying to avoid smoke and soot.

That’s it! 4 steps to avoiding Soot! 

Oh – and one last thing. If someone tells you that their candles don’t produce soot…that’s a misleading sales tactic. Even white candles with no fragrances or dye was will create some sort of smoke or soot if you blow them out or disrupt the flow of wax up the wick. It’s MOFO Science!