Dear Home Ec 101,
I am a 25 years old mother. My daughter just started her terrible twos and I need some me time. A great way for me to relax is to curl up on the sofa once she is asleep, light some candles and put my iPod on. It helps me relax. But about a week ago, while cleaning the house, I noticed that the candles left big black spots on the wall! I tried washing them with every product I have in the house and it’s not working. Do you have any tips for this? I really want to avoid repainting the wall! And I need my candle light, iPod me time.
Oh, I feel your pain, we’re on the tail-end of the third round of terrible twos. (It doesn’t end magically on their birthdays.)
Unfortunately, depending on the paint you have, wetting the walls was probably not a good idea. Soot is oily and once it gets wet, it can become difficult, if not impossible to remove and it is possible that you’ve created a situation where repainting is your best option. This happens. It’s a pain in the butt; file it under live and learn. (That’s the thickest file in my personal filing cabinet, in case you were curious).
Home Eccers, do you have any suggestions?
Once you have your soot problem fixed, let’s work on not recreating it.
Before burning a candle, trim the wick to ¼ inch and place the candle away from any drafts. A flickering candle is creating more soot than a candle burning with a steady flame. Some scented candles tend to create more soot than unscented due to the oil in the wax.
If you have a fireplace, burning candles in the fireplace is a great option as the smoke and soot is drawn upward.
Don’t get smug saying, “I only buy soy, it’s the environmentally sound candle.” There are tons of environmental issues that go into soy bean farming.
If you research the type of candles you use, looking for one that produces less soot you’re going to find a million articles claiming that soy -no beeswax -no paraffin -no a palm blend is best. It’s mostly about the wick and the quality of the candle itself. Be careful buying cheaply made candles, they are often the worst offenders with soot creation. For the cleanest burning candle, you need a candle with hard wax and thin wick.
Finally remember, if soot is landing on your walls, it’s also landing in the ductwork of your home and more importantly your family’s lungs. Make sure you have a high quality filter in the intake of your central air or heat to help reduce the airborne particulate matter. Also be aware that scented candles can trigger headaches in for some people. If you know someone who is prone to migraines only use unscented candles (or none at all) when they are around, as a courtesy.
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