Meghan Budden, a new mom from Hoboken, New Jersey, wanted to create a relaxing environment for herself and her baby boy James at home. She lit two large, scented candles and then got on with her daily tasks. Little did she know what was circulating in the air around them.
The next morning, Meghan noticed some alarming black dots inside her nose. That wasn’t all. “I picked up the baby to feed him and noticed that inside of his nostril it was all black,” Meghan told CBS New York. Even after swabbing the infant’s nose and using a gentle saline solution to clean his nostrils, some of the black substance remained.
Meghan panicked and took James to the family doctor. She was not prepared for the doctor’s verdict; the scented candles that the well-meaning mom had left burning for six or seven hours had produced the offending material.
We’re taught from as early as our school days not to leave naked flames unattended; that’s just common sense. But beyond being a fire hazard, it turns out there’s a hidden danger in the innocuous-looking candle. It’s the reason that there is a warning in the small print.
“I picked up the candle and read more about it,” Meghan continued, “and it was like, ‘Don’t burn more than 3 hours.'” This is not a suggestion; it’s a warning. Excessive burning produces a black soot that can quickly contaminate the air. In an environment such as a home with doors and windows closed, this could be seriously harmful.
Ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Lisa Liberatore said that this is a common error. “Patients come in all the time without necessarily putting those pieces together,” she shared. “I usually go through a checklist of different things,” the doctor continued, explaining how she is able to eliminate potential environmental factors, like scented candles, when diagnosing patients.
Inhaling small particles of soot can, believe it or not, lead to cardiovascular disease, asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders. According to health consultants Cashins & Associates, about 20,000 people die every year in the United States as a direct result of exposure to soot particles.
TipHero noted that it is not necessary to ban all scented candles from your home, but it is crucial to pay better attention. Always buy high-quality candles from a reputable source, and never let candles burn for more than two to three hours at a time to prevent them from spreading soot. The soot is fine and is not always visible to the naked eye.
Other good tricks are to keep the candle wick trimmed to roughly an eighth of an inch (approx. 3 millimeters) above the wax and to never burn a candle in a drafty area. If you see soot rising from your candle, put it out immediately.
Meghan assured CBS New York reporters that she and her baby were doing just fine after the alarming discovery. However, the sensible mom vowed to pay closer attention to candle labels in the future.
She urged others to do the same, and it seems Meghan’s message is getting through; her interview has over 1.3 million views on YouTube. Here’s hoping that little James’s near miss serves as a welcome reminder to others to take caution.
We can’t know everything, so always read the label!