Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Certain Candles May Cause Health Risk And Cleaning Problems

Date:
December 23, 1999
Source:
University Of Florida Institute Of Food And Agricultural Sciences
Summary:
This is the time of year when cinnamon and bayberry candles conjure memories of holidays past. Tapers and votives illuminate festive meals and religious ceremonies, and pillars provide a special holiday ambiance. However, candles may pose problems many consumers aren't aware of. High soot production from certain candles can cause respiratory health problems as well as the soiling of walls, appliances and furniture, said Marie Hammer, a home environment professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

GAINESVILLE --- This is the time of year when cinnamon and bayberry candles conjure memories of holidays past. Tapers and votives illuminate festive meals and religious ceremonies, and pillars provide a special holiday ambiance. However, candles may pose problems many consumers aren't aware of. High soot production from certain candles can cause respiratory health problems as well as the soiling of walls, appliances and furniture, said Marie Hammer, a home environment professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Related Articles


"We realize that during this time of the year candles are very popular as gifts, and they play an important role in holiday traditions and ceremonies," Hammer said. "But, because it's winter, people commonly have their houses closed up, so there is little ventilation inside and soot levels from these candles can become dangerously high."

Soot is produced from the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels. Complete combustion, identified by a blue flame as seen with gas stoves, does not generate soot, whereas yellow flames, such as those emitted by candles, typically indicate soot production.

Although candles may seem harmless, some varieties can produce indoor concentrations of soot that exceed levels allowed in outdoor air by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Soot particles are very small - less than 1 micron - and easily penetrate to the deepest areas of the lung and, according to research, can stay in the lungs for a considerable period of time," Hammer said.

Studies have shown that microscopic soot particles can aggravate respiratory illnesses. Although researchers have studied the health risks of soot from diesel exhaust and factory emissions, no studies have focused specifically on residential exposure to candles.

Hammer said candle-produced soot particles can penetrate almost all residential air conditioning filters, circulating the particles throughout the home.

In addition to possibly causing health problems, soot can deposit on surfaces in the home causing what has been called "ghosting" or "carbon tracking." Soot tends to accumulate in cool areas, often forming dark areas on baseboards, around air conditioning vents, in or near refrigerators and on wall surfaces over studs. It also is attracted to electrically charged surfaces, including certain plastics and computer screens.

"Sometimes we confuse these dark areas for mildew or mold, and we find these areas are very difficult to clean, almost impossible, because they are oily," Hammer said. "People don't anticipate this to be soot when it actually is."

For the candle enthusiast, she offers the following tips:

* Check for hard wax - avoid soft or gel candles.

* Unscented candles produce less soot than their aromatic counterparts.

* Thin, braided wicks that curl when burned are ideal - steer clear of thick or wire-core wicks.

* Candles should have a low, even flame when burned.

* Tapered and votive candles tend to burn cleanest -- avoid candles that have been poured into glass jars or ceramic containers.

* Check multi-wick pillar candles periodically to ensure even burning.

* Many candles come with instructions - take a moment to look them over since some candles require special maintenance.

Hammer also suggested keeping lit candles away from drafts created by open windows, fans or air conditioning vents -- candles in a draft could produce up to 50 percent more soot. If people burn multiple candles over the holidays, they should periodically ventilate their home by opening windows.

"This is a busy time of year for the use of candles," Hammer said. "It's a time where people need to be aware of the potential health and home care implications that go along with it. "


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Florida Institute Of Food And Agricultural Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Florida Institute Of Food And Agricultural Sciences. "Certain Candles May Cause Health Risk And Cleaning Problems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/12/991223010346.htm>.
University Of Florida Institute Of Food And Agricultural Sciences. (1999, December 23). Certain Candles May Cause Health Risk And Cleaning Problems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/12/991223010346.htm
University Of Florida Institute Of Food And Agricultural Sciences. "Certain Candles May Cause Health Risk And Cleaning Problems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/12/991223010346.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins