What It Really Means When A Candle Burns Black (And How To Fix It)

I have a verging-on-obsessive love of candles. As in, as soon as an obstacle presents itself in my life, I turn to the magic candle display at my local mystic shop. If I’m low on money, I’ll spend $14 on an abundance candle to meditate on. Writer's block will compel me to stock up on creativity candles. And if I’m going through a bout of depression? A self love candle should do the trick. I just burn, baby, burn. 

And for a long time, I burned blindly, trusting in the power of these candles without knowing how to listen to the candles. 

Oh yes, candles can talk, didn’t you know? And in order for them to work their magic, you actually need to listen.

Take my endless supply of “creativity” candles, for example. I kept buying and burning, but was still feeling burnt out creatively. At one point, a friend mentioned a money candle she was burning. She’d had to throw it out, restate her intention, and start all over again because the candle had burned black, and she’d heard that black soot around the rim of a candle symbolized an energy block (or dark magic working against you) in that particular area.

As soon as I got home I checked my own collection of candles — for money, creativity, self-love, communication, and strength — and sure enough, both of the creativity candles had burned black, while the others all looked normal. Coincidence? No! There are no coincidences in the cosmos.

A little online research proved my friend right — I mean, as much as you can “prove” the symbology of candle smoke. 


According to Just A Witch, black soot indicates: “A strong negative energy is interfering or resisting. A sign of struggle. The candle is working harder to remove barriers to achieve victory. A grey/ black sooty top that fades into a clear bottom indicates hidden troubles, or something is working against you, and may be stronger. It takes positive thinking and perseverance to succeed.  Things will be bad at first, but repeated spells and offerings or a cleansing is probably necessary due to a difficult situation. The person is in trouble. Things were negative before they got better.”

If you’re a non-believer, you may be thinking, “OK, that just sounds like a poorly-made candle to me.” In which case I would say, that may be true — but perhaps you were guided towards this poorly-made candle specifically so it could alert you to the energy blocks in your life. BOOM.

Anyway, the real question is what to do about the black-burning candle. If your candle burns black at the top of the glass and fades to clear, this is a sign that you are already working through the negativity — there’s no need to throw your candle out! Just keep reinforcing your intention — AKA, I will honor my divine creativity, or something similar — every time you light it.

If the entire length of the glass jar holding your candle burns black, this is a sign that you haven’t broken through the negative energy or blockage yet. You should discard the candle, get a fresh one, and set a strong, positive intention as you light the new candle for the first time. 

There are SO many other messages your candle may be sending you, too. A steady burn is a good sign, of course, and a weak burn means that your intention is not strong or clear enough. A jumping flame could symbolize resistance, and a candle that won’t light needs to be cleansed with palo santo.

No matter how your candle burns, it’s important to remember that simply igniting the candle doesn’t ignite the good vibes! Candles need to be blessed, prayed over, and set with an intention each and every time in order to actually work their magic.

And honestly, they also just make great decor pieces if you’re not into the whole candle interpretation thing. Whether you’re looking for some internal healing or external beauty, I recommend these candles from House of Intuition