Do candles damage walls? Yes, they do! Candles damage walls.

Candles, most especially scented ones, when burnt produce a black powdery or flaky substance known as soot. Often times, this substance is not easily noticed as it may be microscopic. It builds up and is overtime noticed on walls, ceiling, appliances, cabinets etc. These particles make these objects in which they build up on to look not-so-good. The presence of these particles sometimes calls for repainting and sometimes may even lead to an irreparable damage.

Apart from the soot, heat from candles can cause potential damage to the paint on walls.


Candle burning follows the general principle of combustion. During combustion, there is always a source of heat (or fire), a fuel and also a vehicle through which the burning process follows through to completion. In the case of candle burning, the wax serves as a fuel, while the wick serves as the vehicle through which ignition process proceeds. 

When candles are lit, their source of carbon- the wax- reacts with oxygen in air to produce carbon dioxide and steam. When the wax is not completely burned a black flaky substance, soot, is produced.  So in essence, for a candle to burn well without producing soot, it needs a steady flame, burning a consistent amount of carbon (the wax) with an uninterrupted supply of oxygen (which should not be in excess). 

Some other reasons why candles give off soot when burned include:

  • The type and size of wick.
  • Limited supply of oxygen.
  • Excess fragrance oil.
  • Presence of foreign materials in the burning candle. Etc. 


Bed candles i.e. candles that aren’t made properly may produce soot when burned. While soot from bad candles cannot be controlled, as it may be produced as a result of the constituents, soot from candles that are properly made can be managed. It can be minimized by taking the right precautions. It can even be avoided entirely if stricter measures are followed. Detailed below are ways through which soot from candles can be minimized or even avoided entirely.

  1. Do not place candles close to walls while burning them

Keep candles at a reasonable distance away from walls to avoid soot building up on it.

Festive wreath hanging on wall and decorative candles placed on table for Christmas holiday at home
  1. Always trim the wick of your candles before burning

Candles with long wicks are not able to draw wax to the top of the candle and create a steady and calm flame. The inability of the flame to draw wax is what makes the candle to burn with sooty flame, since the wick itself burns.

Candle waxes are to be trimmed to about ¼ inch long before burning. When candle wick are burnt long they tend to produce soot. If you light you candle and it is producing sooty flame quench the fire, trim the wick and light it again. Also, when candles are burned for a long time, they may give off soot even when they were trimmed before ignited. To avoid this, turn of the candle, trim the wick again and reignite. 

 Long wicks when burnt may leave a mushroom-like particle in the flame. This particle also, will give off soot. When these mushroom-like particles are noticed, turn off the candles, blow off the particle, trim the wick and light the candle again.

  1. Buy and burn candles made with the right formula

When fragrance oil is in excess in a lit candle, it burns with soot. This is because there is a limit to the amount of fragrance a candle can hold. Once this limit is exceeded, the fragrance would no longer be able to bind to the wax. This excess fragrance would interrupt the burning process and lead to production of soot which can damage walls when in close proximity.

  1. Make sure the candle burns with sufficient supply of oxygen

When candles are burned in small containers the limited amount of oxygen supplied to these containers may result in the candles burning with a sooty flame. To avoid this, burn your candles in bigger candle containers. You may as well consider getting a smaller candle.

  1. Do not burn your candles in areas with fluctuating air-flow

When candles are burnt in areas with limited or excess flow of air, they flicker and give off soot. Candles should be burned away from drafts and strong air currents. In areas where strong air currents cannot be completely avoided, you may want to shield the candle’s flame to avoid it burning with smoke.

  1. Make use of candle containers

Candles such as pillars and votive should be burned in containers to prevent them from draft. But, they should not be far away from the source of oxygen- air, if not they’ll still produce soot and may dirty our walls.

Two Lighted Jar Candles on Top Brown Wooden Table
  1. Cotton wick are your best bet

Candles composed of wicks made from cotton fiber burn cleanly, all things being equal. Candles with wicks made from lead and other metallic substances should be avoided as they may give off carbon in form of soot when lit.

  1. Take off foreign objects from your candles

Make sure extraneous particles are not present in your candles when burning. These particles may further ignite the fire and lead to the production of soot.


Heat from candles too can cause potential damage to walls especially to the paint on the walls. To avoid damage caused by heat from candles, burn your candles far away from painted surfaces.


Cleaning walls stained with soot from candles can be a very hectic process. If this cleaning process is not done carefully, the walls may be damaged. 

The soot stains on the wall can be got rid-off by wiping the wall with dry cleaning sponge. Do not use water for this wiping. After wiping off the soot, use little amount of water in which liquid soap have been added to dab the wall to remove persistent stain. After this, dry with a clean towel.

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