I can honestly say, that I do not believe there is an easy answer to that question. That is the conclusion I came to when I started on a quest to make the cleanest burning candle possible several years ago. I wanted to create a virtually soot free candle because I loved to burn candles but hated the soot residue that was left behind.
The soot would blacken the container the candles were in and left soot residue on my walls and furnishings. I had bought many name brand candles in the hopes of finding a remedy to my dilemma, only to be disappointed with my findings. Buying a name brand or paying more for a candle does not necessarily guarantee a cleaner burning candle.
There are several factors that weigh in when it comes to having a virtually soot free candle. These factors are things a consumer as well as a candle maker, needs to take into consideration in regard to soot free candles. The first factor to consider is that any element added to a candle can result in candle soot, from the wax that is used to the wick that burns it.
With the previous mentioned information in hand, one could conclude that the best candle to purchase for reducing soot, would be one that did not contain dye or scent, as these items are generally added for cosmetic purposes. This type of conclusion although seemingly accurate, would leave the consumer and a candle maker with only a small portion of the whole truth.
A totally scentless and colorless candle can soot as much as a candle that contains dye and scent. So it is totally misleading to say that the cleanest burning candles contain no dye or scent. Wax and wick alone can cause candle soot.
Although it is true that dye and scent can cause a candle to soot, using superior quality dye and scent should not cause candle soot. How does one know which dyes and scents are of superior quality? In my experience, the best and only true way to establish a sound conclusion is to test the dye and scent. However, if you do not have a candle that is soot free to begin with, adding dye and scent no matter the quality will not stop candle soot. So you must start with a clean burning wax. When it comes to waxes there are many to choose from.
I am sure you have heard many tales about paraffin candles sooting. Again this statement is misleading. You can have a paraffin candle that is virtually soot free, if it is constructed in the correct manner. It is also a misnomer to think that soy wax candles or palm wax candles are soot free. Wax like the dye and scent must be tested as well. I believe that if a candle is constructed in the correct manner, with superior quality ingredients, it can be made to be virtually soot free no matter the type of wax that is used. So therefore the issue would be whether or not you choose to use environmentally friendly waxes.
So now that we have covered wax, dye and scent; that leaves us with the wick. The wick is probably one of the most important factors in creating a virtually soot free candle. If the wick is not the correct wick, for the type of wax you are using or the candle you are making, the wick will cause soot to occur. If the wick is too large for the candle, it will cause the candle to soot. If the wick is not trimmed to the suggested height, the candle will possibly soot.
Wicking a candle, in my opinion, is probably the candle maker’s biggest challenge. To fully understand this challenge you need to understand the principle objective of the wick. A wick’s principle objective is to melt the wax. The glow it has is only part of the wick’s objective. In order for the wick to correctly do the job, it must be designed to work with the viscosity (hardness) of the wax in order to melt it properly. Once you find the proper wick for the wax you are using then you can introduce dye and scent, then adjust the wick accordingly.
Are you wondering if I created a virtually soot free candle? Yes I did and it was not an easy task. I tested hundreds of candles in order to find the correct combination of materials. My wax of choice is palm wax. I like the qualities of the wax. I found it to be the most versatile for my applications and it is environmentally friendly. But a palm wax just like a candle made from any other wax is only as good as the quality of the wax you are using to begin with.