The other day I referred to the fact that we’ve already had to replace our carpet–well, here’s the entire story. Read it and be warned. 🙂

About four months after we moved into our new house, I began to notice a faint black line that appeared all along the edges of the carpet–where the carpet met the wall. I didn’t know if it was dust or what, and then I moved my sofa (which had been in the middle of the great room) and discovered the black line on the carpet, perfectly outlining the sofa!

I was convinced the air conditioner was throwing off soot. For one thing, the black/gray mess was always most obvious right in front of the air vents in the ceiling.

So I called the builder, who sent over a technician, who checked out the AC units and told me they were perfect. So he called his supervisor, who came to my house, listened to my description of the problem, and then asked a simple question: “Do you burn candles?”

“Just one,” I answered. “I burn one scented candle all the time, on account of the dogs.”

“That’s your problem,” he said. “It’s candle soot.”

I told him that was crazy. For one thing, I always burned the candle in the kitchen and this black stuff was everywhere, even upstairs. He said it didn’t matter–the soot particles get caught up in the air conditioning unit, which spews them all over the house through the venting system.

My neighbor, who was an anestheologist, pointed out that we were BREATHING in all the smoke . . . so soot was undoubtedly speckling our lungs.

So I went to the Internet and discovered several web pages about the problem, including this one:

After being horrified by the truth, I went on a soot hunt . . . and found it EVERYWHERE. Soot is attracted to plastic, so I found soot :
in my computer case
on/around every light switch plate
outlining every picture on the wall
in the medicine cabinets (lots there!)
in the refrigerator and freezer
on the carpet in every room

Soot is not easy to clean. It’s greasy, so you almost need a degreaser to get it off. I did manage to scrub it off the walls, etc., but the carpet was hopeless. Fortunately, our insurance company (State Farm, God bless ’em), paid for the damage and gave us a check for new carpeting–I replaced the beige with a deep cranberry, not caring if it was in style or out. I wanted dark colors!

That was five years ago, but even today I’ll move a picture or a piece of furniture and find traces of soot on the wall behind. I’d always burned candles in my old house, but it was so “open” and breezy that we never noticed any buildup. Newer houses are more tightly constructed, and the soot gets redistributed.

I know some candles say they don’t give off soot, but the experience rattled me so deeply that we don’t do candles in our house any more. I still keep air fresheners going–I still have my big dogs, you see–but not candles.

And that is the story of the candles and the carpet. 🙂



  1. jan

    that is scary! i have dogs, too, and the one candle has done the job better than anything else i have tried. what types of air freshioners do you recommend?

  2. Angela

    I’m away from home, or I’d go look and see what brand my favorite air freshener is, but I think it’s Air Wick. It’s the one that comes in a can that fits into a plastic, battery operated dispenser. Every few minutes (you can set the time), it presses the nozzle and sends a whiff of spray into the room. I put the dispensers up high–on the top of a hutch, for instance–and then I forget about ’em for a couple of months. So far, they work better than anything else I’ve tried, and I’ve tried every plug in, candle warmer, etc., that you can imagine.


  3. Suzanne

    Ok ewwwwww, um maybe I shouldn’t have asked! LOL I’ve never experienced soot like that with my candles, course we always live in old houses so maybe it all just goes away? Crazy.

  4. Anonymous

    Wallflowers from Bath and Body Works are the key! No soot, nice smell. We have three dogs and our house always smells good (or so the guests tell me).

  5. karen

    I’m relieved it was the soot. When you mentioned that you replaced the carpets because of candles, I was afraid you’d had a small fire.

  6. Battle Maiden

    Apparently parafin wax candles contaminate the air whereas actual bees wax candles clean the air. Google the comparison and you will be amazed! I had some “bee-keepers” stay with me last fall and they taught me so many wonderful things about bees and what they produce. God has a really good thing going with those little insects! Try experimenting so you can still enjoy the candles without the toxins.

  7. Kay

    Holy smokes!
    I had no idea! I LOVE candles. I had never heard that before. Wow.
    Air fresheners just aren’t as romantic.
    I think I will check out the beeswax candles. I wonder if the soy are better, too?

  8. Rachelle

    Oh my! What an important warning! Thanks for the heads-up. And thanks to all your commenters, too. I guess Air Wick or bees wax will have to replace all my precious Yankee candles.

  9. jan

    thanks for all of the good advise!


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