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What Can Cause Black Soot on White Window Blinds?

Linda Chechar

White window blinds tend to attract ordinary household particulates and require regular dusting. However, a layer of black soot indicates a more serious problem. Soot is a nuisance to clean, and it can ultimately affect the health those exposed.

While the sudden appearance of black soot may seem mysterious, in most instances, it can be traced to familiar sources in the home.


Candles add a soft glow and romantic touch to any room. They can also contribute to black soot buildup. The culprits include candles in glass jars, scented candles, candles made from soft wax compounds, large multiple-wick candles, and candles with thick or wire-enforced wicks. Look for evidence of soot around the edge of the candle holder, a black smoke trail rising from the flame, irregular flames, and black soot on nearby walls. To lessen soot accumulation, purchase unscented, hard paraffin, soy or bee's wax candles. Do not burn candles in drafty areas. Purchase an air purifier, and regularly replace HVAC filters. After burning candles, open windows to ventilate affected rooms. Maintain a candlewick length of no greater than 1/4 inch. Limit candle burning to one-hour sessions.

Oil Lamps

Oil lamps come in handy during a power outage, but they can emit soot during long periods of use. Modern lamp oils have come a long way from noxious kerosene of the past. Lamp oil manufacturers offer clean-burning options for safe indoor use. However, oil lamps still produce smoke that collects as soot on blinds and other household surfaces. The extent of soot buildup inside the glass chimney indicates the amount of soot escaping into the air. To minimize soot deposits, adjust the wick to avoid excessive smoking. Do not use scented or tinted lamp oils. Do not expose an oil lamp to sunlight. The heat will produce condensation inside the fuel reservoir, which increases soot production.

Wood-Burning Heat Sources

Nothing feels or looks better on a cold night than the toasty glow of a fireplace. If a layer of black soot on white window blinds occurs during periods of cold weather, the fireplace or wood stove may be to blame. Accumulated creosote and soot blow into the room in downdraft situations. Before winter arrives, thoroughly clean the chimney and firebox. A chimney sweep or fire department will remove residue and inspect for damage that negatively affects airflow.

Gas Heat Sources

Gas fireplaces, forced air gas heaters, and even liquid propane heating units can create soot. Black soot on furniture, appliances, blinds, and walls indicates a serious problem, such as faulty air and gas mix or other mechanical failure. If a gas heater causes excessive amounts of black soot, turn off the unit immediately and call a service technician. Annual maintenance will eliminate the instance of soot and harmful gases in most cases.