Why Do Candles Smoke When Blown Out?


While I know many people find the smell of candle smoke irritating, I sort of like the smell of a candle after it has been blown out. I did some research to see why a candle smokes when you blow it out is actually very interesting.

Why do candles smoke when blown out? A candle smokes when you blow it out because the wick is still pulling up hot wax from the melt pool. This hot wax hits the tip of the wick and becomes superheated. The wax becomes a flammable vapor in the form of a floating cloud of partially burned wax droplets. These wax droplets appear to us like smoke.

A candlewick actually does not do much as far as the burning process is concerned. It is not primarily what’s burning, that is the wax. The flame heats the wax until it becomes a vapor and then the vapor is what burns.

The primary purpose of the wick is to pull the wax-up toward the flame. It pulls the wax-up, and then the wax burns. You can find out more about how candles work and the science behind them in my article titled How Do Candles Work.

Candle Smoke Basics

Is candle smoke bad for you? Candle smoke can potentially be dangerous for you. Candle smoke consists of partially burned hydrocarbons and can cause respiratory distress for someone with asthma, COPD, or another respiratory condition. In addition, burning paraffin wax is known to release toluene and benzene which are carcinogens.

The smoke can potentially be dangerous for you.

Paraffin, one of the most common forms of wax is actually a petroleum byproduct. Scented and dyed candles can also potentially release toxins related to the scent and the dye.

In addition, if the candle has additives such as dye or fragrance oils that can contribute to any negative impact breathing the smoke may have.

Some fragrance oils have quite a lot of chemicals in them to create these artificial fragrances you find in candles today.

I would avoid directly breathing the smoke if at all possible.

Can candle soot harm you? Candle soot can be harmful if it is allowed to continue unchecked. The occasional bit of soot you see when your candle flickers is not harmful, in some cases, it is even normal. However, those with certain respiratory conditions may be more sensitive to candle soot than others.

Preventing Candle Smoke

How do you prevent candle smoke? Prevent candle smoke by snuffing out the flame with a candle wick snuffer or with a wick dipper. They will quickly extinguish the flame and prevent it from allowing hot molten wax to evaporate from the tip of the wick. The wick dipper dunks the wick below the wax and the snuffer suffocates the wick.

You have a few options that can help you avoid a cloud of smoke after blowing out a candle. Specifically a wick dipper and a candle snuffer.

Wick Dipper

candle smoke

A wick dipper does exactly what its name suggests. It lets you bend the wick over in to the wax in order to extinguish the flame.

This cools the wick much faster than blowing it out and can help prevent the plume of smoke that normally follows.

Candle Snuffer

candle smoke

Likewise, candle snuffer does what its name suggests. You place the bell shaped end over a candles flame and it deprives it of oxygen.

Without oxygen the flame will die down and go out. It may still smoke a bit but the candle snuffer will help.

In addition, it prevents the wick from smoking by containing it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when you inhale candle smoke?

Inhaling candle smoke introduces toxic, chemical, and organic compounds in to your respiratory system. These compounds can cause cancer and agitate respiratory disorders. In addition, you are inhaling carbon monoxide which can deprive your body of oxygen.

What is the point of a candle snuffer?

A candle snuffer is designed to put out a candle without blowing it out in order to prevent the smoke and the smell that follows blowing out a candle.

How do you snuff a candle without a snuffer?

Snuff a candle without a snuffer by pushing the wick into the wax melt pool with a wick dipper or a pair of scissors. In addition, you can snuff out certain candles simply by putting their lids back on while the candle is burning and it will suffocate the flame.

Why does my candle smoke so much?

The primary cause of smoking candles is a long or mushrooming wick. When a candle burns too long without having the wick trimmed it will begin to build up carbon and can mushroom and begin to burn irregularly. This will cause the wick to produce too much heat and and burn inefficiently which can cause soot and smoke.

How do I stop my Yankee Candle from smoking?

Make sure to keep the candle away from any drafts including windows, doorways, fans and heating and cooling systems. Trim the candle wick to the manufacturer suggested length after every use. In addition, If your candle come with a illuma lid make sure you are using it as suggested.

How to avoid the smell of smoke when you blow a candle out?

Avoid the smell of smoke when extinguishing your candle by putting out the flame with a candle snuffer or a wick dipper. Both will prevent the plume of smoke that usually follows blowing out a candle.

Conclusion

In conclusion, what follows the blowing out of a candle is not actually smoke, per se, it is instead a plume of partially burned rapidly cooling wax droplets. If it has a strong wax smell, that is because it is wax.

If you do not like it then I suggest you invest in a candle snuffer or a wick dipper. They can be had on Amazon for $10-$15.

As mentioned above, a wick dipper and a candle snuffer will help eliminate any problems associated with smoke when you blow out your candle. In addition, if the candle smokes while it’s burning you can use wick trimmers to shorten the wick and help eliminate burn problems.

Why Do Candles Smoke When Blown Out?

Carl

Hi, I'm Carl. I am one of the co-founders here at Candleers. I like to make candles and use candles.

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