The Myths & Truths of Candles

Myths and misconceptions about candles continue to spread among the populace. Many of these rumors revolve around health and safety, so shoppers and businesses alike need to know the truth. Keep reading as we debunk the most widespread candle myths!

Myth: Candle Soot is Harmful

One of the most common myths surrounding candles is that candle soot is harmful. In truth, burning candles simply causes incomplete combustion. This process naturally leaves behind soot, which is not a health hazard. The debris is similar to the byproducts of kitchen toasters or the remains on a pan after frying food.

There are a few ways to reduce candle soot for a more attractive candle appearance. Keep your candle away from air drafts; this prevents the flame from flickering, which would make additional soot. Also, trim your candle wicks to ¼ inch so the flame stands at the appropriate height.

Myth: Soy Candles do not Smoke

All candles produce smoke, regardless of the wax that it’s made of. All candle waxes contain hydrocarbons that may produce minimal amounts of smoke in combustion. However, the main source of candle smoke is in the wick. Candle wicks are mostly made of zinc, tin, paper, or cotton. These items are prone to smoke, but again, you can reduce smoke by cutting your wicks to ¼ inch before burning them.

Myth: Candles Should be Put Out with Water

Despite the myth, extinguishing candles with water is unsafe for you and your home. Wax can easily splatter when introduced to water. Additionally, the quick change in heat may cause your glass candle container to shatter. 

Avoid damage by simply blowing out the candle to extinguish it. Alternatively, you may choose to use a candle snuffer, where you use a bell-shaped item to cut oxygen from the flame.

Myth: Paraffin Wax is Toxic

A common myth is that one candle wax is best for all cases—and that paraffin wax is even toxic. However, the truth is that paraffin and soy wax have a similar chemical makeup. Both are carbon-based, and therefore create a flame in the same manner.

All candle waxes must go through testing regulated by the US government before sales begin. Thus, you can safely assume no health hazards from your candle wax. However, one important distinction between the two is that soy wax has a higher melting point. Soy candles therefore tend to last longer than those made of paraffin.

Myth: It’s Ideal to Burn a Candle Until there’s no Wax Left

Though it seems ideal to get the most out of your candle, the safe choice is to stop burning a candle when ½ inch of wax remains. This prevents heat damage to the container, as well as the surface that your candle sits upon.

Myth: Unscented Candles are Safer than Scented Candles

Well-made candles burn safely, scented, or otherwise. Regarding scented candles in particular, there are no associated health hazards. There are many scented candles, both synthetically and naturally scented, that burn clean and safe. 

Myth: Candle Wicks Contain Lead

As stated before, candle wicks are mostly made of zinc, tin, paper or cotton. Some lead wicks used to exist in the US market, but the US specifically banned them in 2003. Even prior to this, the CDC had banned lead-based products in 1978. Thus, any candles with lead wicks in the US before 2003 were infrequent, cheap imports.

Myth: Freezing a Candle Preserves It

Some sources may encourage freezing a candle to preserve the wax as it burns. The idea that the candle will last longer is already a myth, but there may be further consequences as well. 

The moisture in a freezer serves candle wax rather poorly, sometimes cracking it within just minutes. A cracked candle tends to burn unevenly, or even fail to burn at all. Moreover, lighting a candle after taking it out of the freezer is a poor choice. Introducing the cold glass to a flame may shatter the container.


When it comes to safe candle handling, there are clearly a myriad of myths. While some rumors suggest that certain candles are unsafe, candles are safe products to use and purchase in the general market. Are you interested in making candles for yourself, or as a business? Get started with our beginner’s guide to candle making.