Why Do Candles Burn Black?

Candles. They are such wonderful and delicate items. Even though nowadays we don’t use them to light up rooms anymore, they still find their way in our houses. There is no secret that some candles have a doubtful quality and they are not recommended to be lighted inside. They are cheap and are great to just be put on a shelf and look pretty. But for some of us, having a colorful, pretty candle it is not enough. We want to create an intimate atmosphere and light them up. We want to enjoy not only the delicate glowing but also the pleasant smell. However, some of the naturally made candles also release black smoke while burning, leaving us with no lovely odor, but a house full of toxic vapors.

In this article, we will talk about why some candles burn black. We will explain the science behind this fact and we will give you some advice on how to solve the smoky candle issue.

4 Possible Reasons Why Your Candle is Releasing a Black Smoke

candle burn black

It is normal that, while burning, candles will let out small parts of smoke. Also, like any other flaming object, they will release a light amount of soot. This is the reason why it is not recommended to burn any candle near the walls. However, if the candle uses a natural wax and the wick is made out of high-quality materials, it will burn with a neglectable quantity of smoke and soot, leaving almost no black leftover parts behind.  But let’s see what can cause the black smoke to appear:

The wick doesn’t have an appropriate length

There are multiple problems that can be caused by wicks and black smoke is among them. If the fuse is too long, the flame will burn too far from the wax, producing a chemical reaction with an excess elimination of smoke.

Solution: If this is the case, you actually can fix the issue by trimming the wicks to a ¼ inch before lighting the candle.

The candle is in a drafty place

Another very common reason for the appearance of black smoke is placing the candle in a draft. You know that the candle’s flame flickers. If the flame’s “dance” happens in a place where currents of cool air meet, the wick will take in too much oil from the wax and will not be able to burn it all. Because of this, it will release black smoke.

candle burn black

Solution: The key to this is a simple one. Be sure your candle is not in front of an open window, a vent or any kind of fans. If none of these items are in the room, check for any draft sources.

The candle is made of chemical compounds

There are a lot of materials used in the candle manufacture business. 95% of the candles found on the market are made out of synthetic components, such as paraffin and chemical based oils and perfumes. All synthetical compounds release black smoke while burning, but some candles that have intense scents or colors may smoke even greater than others.

Solution: Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do in this case. You either keep the candle only as decor, or you buy a different type for lighting up.

candle burn black

The candle has a tunneling

The term of “tunneling” is well-known by the candle lovers and it represents the situation when the candle burns only in the middle. If this happens, the wax will leave leftover parts on the edges of its holder making a tunnel-like form. When it reaches the bottom of the container, it will be impossible for the candle to burn anymore. The wick will not have enough air being suffocated by the liquid wax from above it. All this process will create thick black smoke.

Solution: It is very important for how long you burn your candle the first time. When you start using the candle, let it burn for at least two hours. This way you will be sure that the wax reaches the perfect melting point and will liquify till the container’s edges without creating a tunnel.

Check also our review on one of the famous name, Our Own Candle Company and their products.

Reading Candle Burns


As you can see, there are multiple reasons why your candle releases a black smoke. Anyhow, most of the causes are of a mechanical nature and, therefore, are very easily solved. However, if you want to buy a candle to light it up and not use it only as a decoration item, we recommend getting a naturally made beeswax candle. They burn with a very low amount of smoke but release a pleasant honey fragrance and you will be sure that no unresolvable smoke problems will occur. Read more here for the best candles for light.