1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

November 24, 2008

:329 Candle Soot

Filed under: :329 Candle Soot — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:30 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:329 EcoTip: With the holidays coming more households will be burning candles. Many types of scented candles or candles with other types of additives have been shown to create up to 100 times more soot than unscented candles. These fine soot particles are tiny enough to be inhaled deeply into the lungs and have been shown to exacerbate respiratory problems and asthma.


 Additional Information:

Research published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation(CMHC) has identified candles as a major source of soot deposits staining homes. These soot deposits are often referred to as ghosting because of the faint shadows they leave on surfaces. In their study they also list a number of other causes and make recommendations for homeowners and builders.

Homeowners should:

  • avoid or restrict the use of candles in houses;
  • use candles with properly trimmed wicks, in properly ventilated conditions as per manufacturer’s instructions (The National Candle Association website gives specific information on how to choose and burn candles so as to avoid soot problems);
  • avoid or limit scented candles;
  • have combustion appliances in the home checked regularly for proper operation and venting effectiveness;
  • keep a clean house generally and vacuum carpets regularly with an effective vacuum—central vacuums vented outside or HEPA grade filters are the best options. Use perimeter tool for wall edges;
  • never idle vehicles in an attached garage and ensure the garage is properly air sealed from the house;
  • eliminate or control other dust sources—properly clean up renovation projects, reduce storage of wood, paper and fabric products, control access of pets to certain areas of the house;
  • purchase and maintain better filters for the forced air system.

Builders should:

  • build tighter houses and specifically ensure air leakage pathways at floor header assemblies are well sealed;
  • use insulation techniques and wall details that minimize thermal bridging and cold spots;
  • ensure garages are air sealed from the home and any ductwork running through the garage is tightly sealed;
  • ensure all combustion appliances are properly installed and vented. Avoid standing pilot appliances and encourage direct vent, sealed combustion appliances;
  • clean houses thoroughly after the drywall and taping stage to eliminate drywall and other construction dust;
  • ensure forced air ducts are sealed during construction and/or cleaned thoroughly before carpets and other flooring are installed;
  • offer upgraded filters for forced air systems; and
  • offer darker carpet colours or inform homeowners that streaking problems are more visible with light carpets.

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