Can Candles Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

One Carbon and one Oxygen atom
One Carbon and one Oxygen atom

When a hydrocarbon is burned with a lot of oxygen supply, carbon dioxide is produced. When this is done and there is not enough oxygen, then carbon monoxide is produced.

It is formed by partial combustion of carbon which contains the compound. This is where the hydrocarbon compounds undergo reactions of incomplete combustion.

Oxygen amount is then limited in the reaction thus producing carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. When you breathe it, it prevents the blood cells from carrying oxygen. The body at large is highly harmed by the lack of oxygen like the brain and the heart.

The high levels of carbon monoxide kill quickly while low levels of it have a tremendous effect on the body. To this level, carbon monoxide becomes poison either in small or large quantities.

Can candles produce carbon monoxide?

Candles do produce carbon monoxide when lighting in a room. To be poisonous, the following must apply;

  • No ventilation: A room where there is no ventilation can pose a risk to carbon monoxide generation. When the candle is lit for a long time, oxygen in the room gets lower hence giving room for the carbon monoxide production.
  • Crowded Room: When candles are lit in a room that is too small to accommodate a large number of people, there are more chances of carbon monoxide generation. The crowd in the room inhales more oxygen hence leaving not enough to support the lighting candles hence the candles will start producing carbon monoxide which is very poisonous to people around.
  • Many candles lit together: Lighting candles do produce carbon monoxide. In order to have enough of it to cause poisoning, there must be many candles in a room.

When the fumes from these candles are only allowed to concentrate in the same room and not allowed to vent to the outside sometime, there is a possibility of creating carbon monoxide in the room.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

When carbon monoxide concentration is high, the following symptoms appear;

The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those ones of flu. They include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, chest pain, confusion and shortness of breath.

The signs appear because carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin in the blood so that it is never available to bond with oxygen. This causes a shortfall of oxygen in the blood bringing about all the symptoms hence causing death.

carbon monoxide poisining candles

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Since carbon monoxide inhalation can be very dangerous once generated to high levels and can cause death in an instant, its prevention is very important. This is what you can do:

  • Install a Carbon monoxide detector: This can be used to detect if there are any traces of carbon monoxide in the house when too many candles have been lit. It is cheap and can be used to save lives easily. The detector will help because the carbon monoxide gas is tasteless, odorless and colorless thus very uneasy to detect it.
  • Check ventilation: In order to get enough air into the room and avoid the concentration of many carbon monoxide fumes, the ventilation should be checked regularly.

It is on a rare occasion that candles can cause carbon monoxide poisoning unless there is negligence or too many candles lit in a lowly ventilated room. Caution should be taken in such cases and avoid any hard occurring from the poisonous gas generated from the candles.

4 thoughts on “Can Candles Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?”

  1. I am a senior woman living alone in her minivan. I am in the pacific Northwest and it’s really cold at night. For heat, I use multiple candles. I have had shortness of Breath. I don’t know what to do, I have no place to go. I don’t have enough room for a Mr. Buddy Heater. I just use the candles so I don’t freeze to death.

    • This can be very dangerous for you. Read the article again and you will see that you have the environment that creates carbon monoxide poisoning. Definitely ventilate the minivan and use less candles. You can use terracotta pots to use it as a kind of heat radiator.

  2. you used the atomic symbol for cobalt, atomic number 27. Cobalt is not carbon monoxide.

    carbon monoxide is a chemical compound, Co and is not on the periodic table, although carbon and oxygen are.


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