Why Is My Candle Giving Off Black Smoke? (And How To Fix It)

I almost always have a candle burning when I am at my desk and it is always annoying to get one that produces soot. Black smoke and soot can sometimes ruin the candle burning experience. A smoking candle is not a pretty sight and it can be bad for your health or your pets.

Why is my candle giving off black smoke? Candles produce black smoke when the candle wick is too long. In addition, candle scan smoke when the candle is too hot, the candle is dirty, it has been burning too long, or because of an error in the manufacturing process. Black smoke is also more common with paraffin wax than with natural waxes.

The soot can leave smudges all over the class candle holder or jar, and it can even leave soot on your wall or ceiling.

Sometimes this is due to something that is beyond your control, such as the type of wax, scent, or wick being used, or a combination of the three.

Causes Of Black Smoke From Candles

Here are some of the reasons your candle may be producing black smoke or soot.

  • The wick is too long
  • The candle is too hot
  • Dust or debris in the candle
  • The scent used in the candle
  • Wax used in the candle
  • Wick used in the candle
  • Flame exposed to a draft
  • The candle has been burning too long

The wick is too long

In most cases, when a wick is too long it leaves takes away the ability for the wick to draw wax all the way to the top. As this wick burns, it can produce more soot and smoke.

Remedy this by trimming the wick at the end of each use of the candle. Snip the wick off with a pair of scissors at about 1/4 of an inch from the wax.

The candle is too hot

Burning a candle for too long will cause it to get hot, the wax will turn to liquid and begin to evaporate and burn more quickly.

This process leaves more wick exposed, letting it become deformed giving you an irregular flame.

Take care of this by trimming the wick with a pair of scissors while the candle is still burning to return the flame to a somewhat normal state. Just make sure you do not leave the burned wick in the wax.

Another solution to this problem is to simply blow the candle out and trim the wick, and it will burn normal next time you use it.

Dust or debris in the candle

If it has been a while since the last time you used your candle, it may have collected dust or debris.

Candles can collect dust and debris just sitting out in your home, and while it may not look like much, it can be enough to change the way your candle burns. This can cause the candle to produce soot as it burns.

Put the lid back on your candle when it cools after every use to prevent this from happening in the future.

If the candles are smaller and do not have a lid, you can place them in a baggy and put them away until they are needed again.

The scent used in the candle

The scent used in the manufacturing of the candle could be the reason it’s smoking.

The candle manufacturer may have used the wrong type of scent, coloring, or used the wrong quantities. In addition, some fragrance oils just produce more soot when they burn.

Not much you can do in this situation, other than avoid that brand of candle in the future.

Too much fragrance oil used in the candle

If the candlemaker used too much fragrance oil trying to achieve a better scent throw that can cause the candle to burn irregularly and make it produce soot while burning.

Candles that have a high fragrance load usually take a larger wick that can cause soot or smoke while burning. This is a trade off that is made when trying to achieve a better hot scent throw on a candle.

The wax used in the candle

The candle manufacturer might have used the wrong proportions when mixing the wax to make the candle. It is also possible they used the wrong wax, scent, or wick combination.

Many candles use a wax blend of different wax types. The manufacturer could have used the wrong blend and now it inadvertently burns off faster than the wick.

Regretfully, another situation that leaves you with no options.

However, if you wan’t to avoid wax that produces soot in the future it is a good idea to avoid paraffin wax. It is a harder wax, therefore it takes a hotter wick to burn which will most always produce more soot.

The wick used in the candle

Like wax, candle wicks must also be chosen carefully.

Several different types of wicks exist and must be matched to the wax blend being used. Then you have situations where candles may have multiple wicks.

If you are buying your candle from a discount candle maker or a hobbyist, you might run into a problem such as this.

The flame is exposed to a draft

A draft can cause the flame to burn irregularly which can also cause the candle to produce black smoke.

If you have your candle somewhere near a heater, air conditioning vent, or a fan it could be a good idea to relocate it somewhere else.

Once the flame of the candle has returned to normal it should produce less smoke.

The candle has been burning too long

This is essentially the most common and likely reason for a candle to produce black smoke.

When a candle burns for too long it creates a scenario where multiple causes of black smoke or soot all happen at once.

The candle becomes too hot, causing the wax to evaporate and burn off faster. The wax evaporating and burning off leaves more of the wick exposed. The exposed wick becomes deformed and produces an irregular flame.

All of which is a perfect storm that will create a black smoke producing candle.

Candles are a little more particular than you think. If you do not burn them long enough you get wax tunneling. Which is where you get a hole down the center of your candle.

It is suggested that you only burn a candle for about 4 hours at a time and make sure the wick is always trimmed after each use.

You can see more about this in my article titled What Happens If You Burn A Candle Too Long.

Preventing Black Smoke From Candles

The good news is that preventing black smoke is fairly easy to do, and it is something that every candle lover should make a habit of doing.

How do you stop a candle from smoking? Stop a candle from smoking by keeping the wick trimmed after every use and follow the manufacturer suggested burning practices such as minimum and maximum burn times. In addition, put the lid back on the candle when it is not in use and keep it away from drafts.

Candle Black Smoke & Health Concerns

Is black smoke from a candle dangerous? Black smoke from candles can be dangerous. There have been cases of hospitalizations due to candles producing black smoke while people are sleeping. It can fill the room with black smoke and you breathe it without being aware. However, these cases are typically pretty rare.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should candles burn black?

Candles should not produce black smoke while they are burning. If your candle is smoking black while it’s burning it is a sign that something is not right with your candle. Blow the candle out and let it cool off then you can trim the wick and try relighting it once the wax has cooled.

Can you die from candle smoke?

You can die from candle smoke under the right conditions. Candle smoke can cause a variety of respiratory issues and for someone that already has health issues such as asthma or COPD, candle smoke can cause respiratory distress and lead to death.

Is it OK to breathe in candle smoke?

It is okay to breathe small amounts of candle smoke. However, a properly burning candle should not smoke at all. You should identify the reason the candle is smoking and take care of it because a candle producing lots of smoke can be a health hazard and even lead to respiratory issues.


To sum it up, there are several reasons that your candle may be producing black smoke, and many of these reasons come with solutions.

If you have tried all of the above solutions and get to the point where you think it may be a defective product. I would take note of the brand and try to avoid it in the future.

Consequently, the next time you are looking for a candle I would check the reviews on Amazon and see what people have to say about each brand. Once you think you have selected the right brand, I would see to it that you are getting one that comes with a lid included.

Have you had any experience with any specific brands that smoke a lot? Let us know in the comments.

Carl Adamson

Hi, I'm Carl Adamson, one of the founders here at Candleers. A few years ago I got really into the art and craft of candle making, initially with soy wax container candles. My friends started asking me to make candles for them and pretty soon it turned into a nice side-business. I started this website as a way to document what I've learned over the past few years and hopefully help others in the process. I still love candle making but I'm learning that what I enjoy even more is the business side of things - and for this reason I've started consulting others on how to start and grow their own candle-making businesses and side-hustles.

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