Insurance and commercial property management companies have noted an increase in claims due to black spot stains on ceilings, walls, furniture, contents and HVAC filters from previously unidentified sources. The mystery is solved though! The problem is referred to as “black soot deposition” (BSD) and, as research indicates, a common household decorative item frequently causes it.
There is no evidence of a sudden or accidental source for BSD, like malfunctioning furnaces, gas water heaters, cigarette smoke or cooking by-products. Until recently, there was little compelling evidence to assign proper blame for the source of BSD. Tests have confirmed, however, the primary culprits are very possibly decorative scented candles.
Low quality candles are often to blame
Research indicates increased BSD is often the result of candle manufacturers adding additional fragrance oils to their products, along with improper wick trimming by customers. Many fragrance oils are not suitable for combustion and do not burn cleanly. It also appears many amateur candle-makers have entered the expanding market to capitalize on the current popularity of candles without proper training or experience. The outcome is an abundance of low-quality candles burning in many homes and a corresponding increase in the frequency of indoor soot deposits.
Potential dangers to structure and health
The number of aromatic candle manufacturers, professional and amateur, grows each year. Many companies introduce candles to their product line without the knowledge necessary to produce a safe and clean-burning product. According to J. David Krause’s thesis, “Characterization of Scented Candle Emissions and Associated Public Health Risks,” chemical testing provides conclusive evidence that emissions from some burning candles contain more than 20 volatile organic compounds, lead and a significant amount of carbon.
Burning scented candles inside homes, apartments and commercial buildings can present serious health hazards to those living and working there. It can also mean damage to ventilation systems, furnishings and contents. Evidence suggests breathing even one micron of soot can be hazardous. It has been determined that breathing particulate matter, 2.5 microns or smaller, is detrimental to human health, and these particles are dangerous because they are inhaled deeply into the lungs, causing irritation and respiratory problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Lung Association (ALA) says those most at risk include people with heart or lung disease, children and the elderly.