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Decorate with a Candle

by Debbie Correale

When a client is trying to add a new pop color to a room, I suggest adding at least three touches of decorating items that are easy to find and not too expensive, such as pillows, a throw, or a candle. How do you decide which candle is right, especially since there is a vast cost range?

There has been much debate about the materials used in candle-making, and past studies have been challenged by the National Candle Association (NCA). From everything I have reviewed, the quality of the materials used in the candle-making impacts the quality of your air. Keep in mind when you burn a scented candle, regardless of what it is made of, particulate matter goes into the air that you breathe. As Douglas Booker of the National Air Quality Testing Services (NAQTS) explains, When scented candles are burned, they give off tiny particles, so small that you could fit a thousand of them across a single human hair. However, many things in your home do this, from the cleaners you use to your flooring and wall paint, to name a few.


Paraffin, the most used candle-making material, comes from petroleum. The higher the quality of paraffin, the cleaner it burns, which is done through a purification process. As petroleum is not sustainable, many choose renewable plant-based materials such as soy, cotton, or beeswax. Note from the NCAThere is no such thing as a soot-free wax. All organic compounds when burned will emit some carbon (soot) due to incomplete combustion. Sooting is primarily a factor of wick length and flame disturbance. Do your research and find a company that makes candles using your desired material.


Safety standards by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) determine if fragrances are safe for humans. Scents can be synthetic or natural and include essential oils. Another consideration is understanding the extra stuff that may be added to candle production. Read the fine print on your candles, look up the ingredient list, and post questions on the maker’s websites or business pages to find the right scented candle for your personal preference.

Candle burning tips:

Obvious tips from the NCA:

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Never burn a candle on or near anything that might catch fire.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.

Not so obvious tips:

  • Check the length of the wick on your candle; it should be trimmed to 1/4 inch. Trim the wick each time before lighting and remove the trimmings.
  • Be sure the wax is clear of the wick trimmings, and do not allow matches to settle in the wax.
  • The NCA also recommends that you burn a candle in a well-ventilated room, for no more than “four hours and cool for at least two hours before lighting.”
  • To prevent tunneling, per the makers of bijou candles, they suggest, “Once your candle is lit, don’t blow it out until there is a pool of melted wax that covers the entire surface layer. This may take a couple of hours, so it’s best to enjoy your candle when you have some downtime. If you don’t allow it to burn fully across, each subsequent burn will push the wick further down without burning the wax on the sides.

Do you have a favorite candle source that you use? I would love to hear from you; post your suggestions on my Facebook page!

By Debbie Correale, Redesign Right, LLC. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz, LinkedIn. Feature photo purchased from Shutterstock.

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