One day recently, young New Jersey mother Meghan Budden saw little black specks on the tissue after she blew her nose. Then she found similar specks in her baby’s nose while she was breastfeeding. Where could they have come from?
She went back over everything they’d done in the last few hours and days, and where they’d been. And she didn’t have to look far, just over on the countertop nearby.
The previous night Meghan had lit some scented candles and left them burning for six hours. She found the package they’d come in and read the fine print. There it was: a warning from the candle manufacturer that the candles should be left lit for no more than three hours at a time. When burning longer, they begin to produce soot.
Soot might just sound like a little dust, but it’s one of the chemicals at the root of asthma, chronic bronchitis, hereditary coronary disease, and other respiratory problems. According to industrial safety studies, soot is thought to cause 20,000 premature deaths a year in the U.S. alone, not to mention 300,000 asthma attacks.
If Meghan hadn’t noticed the specks and figured out where they came from, eventually she and her baby would have been in danger. They might not have noticed tomorrow or next week, but the damage adds up and causes serious harm long-term.
It’s a great reminder to read instructions and fine print, even when we think we can’t possibly need them.
It turns out there’s also a way to avoid soot from candles: cut the wick short, 0.1 to 0.25 of an inch, and don't leave candles burning in a place with drafts. And of course, if you notice black smoke or soot, blow out the candle right away. Good to know!