Ways Candles Can Affect Your Air Filters

Ways Candles Can Affect Your Air FiltersIndoor ambience and decor are enhanced by candles—indoor air quality, not so much. Depending on the type of candle, this source of soot and smoke inside today’s tightly-sealed, energy efficient homes can pose certain concerns. In addition to potential health issues, since the entire air volume inside your home circulates through your HVAC system continuously, regular use of some candles can also affect cooling and heating components and degrade system performance.

Here are two ways that indoor air quality issues caused by candles can also impact HVAC operation:

Contaminated ductwork.

The majority of scented candles are formulated with paraffin, a petroleum derivative. Soot produced by these candles contains trace amounts of formaldehyde, benzene, toluene and other toxins. Airborne particulates composing candle soot may be as small as .06 to .10 micron and can penetrate most system air filters to coat interior surfaces of HVAC ductwork. With sufficient accumulation, contaminated ducts can become an ongoing source of unhealthy indoor air quality that may affect sensitive individuals.

Filter issues.

Still other airborne particulates produced by paraffin candle soot are large enough to be trapped by HVAC air filters. Accumulation manifests as a sticky, black coating inside the filter media that restricts system airflow, which in turn degrades energy efficiency and cooling/heating performance. Filtration effectiveness also rapidly declines and unfiltered airborne particulates may accumulate in living spaces.

EPA Recommendations For Candle Use

Switch to paraffin-free candles made of bees wax or soy. These products last about 30% longer and the smoke is more filter-friendly.

Keep candle wicks trimmed to a length of one-quarter inch. Longer wicks produce more soot due to incomplete combustion.

Place candles where they aren’t affected by drafts, including air currents from the HVAC system. Drafty conditions reduce combustion, causing increased smoke emissions.

Where candle use is frequent, check the condition of the HVAC air filter more frequently, too, at least once a month. Replace if it appears blackened by soot.


Supporting healthy indoor air quality since 1922, Paitson Bros. offers solutions for issues that impact your home environment.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859. 

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