Do the EC3 Air Purification Candles REALLY Work to Reduce the Mold Load in a Indoor Environment?
I get many emails from readers asking about the true efficacy of the Micro Balance products—most specifically the EC3 Environmental Products. If you are new to my blog, or not familiar with the EC3 products, the line includes solutions for keeping mold and mycotoxin counts down on surfaces, belongings, an in the indoor air. LOTS of my posts include one or more mentions of the EC3 products and the ways in which I use them in our home as a means of cleaning for mold, or for mold hygiene and mold avoidance. These are the products that I am trusting to keep my home and my family well and safe. I wouldn’t be posting all of these articles if the EC3 products didn’t work, right?
Well, I can assure you that I would NOT be touting any product or service that I didn’t actively use, trust, and believe in. I try to keep my posts informative, science-based and not sales-y. I do have an affiliate relationship on this blog with Micro Balance and any money earned helps me to keep this blog going as a labor of love to help as many people as I can. More than that, though, I want you to know that I mold test frequently in my home to make sure that what I am “saying” on this blog is true to the best of my knowledge. I even conduct experiments, and I put any products I write about to the test DAILY to make sure that I am not leading anyone astray or causing anyone to throw money down the drain on products that do not do what they say they do.
As many of you know, I myself have been in the throes of a mold nightmare, sick, confused, scared, and spending countless dollars on mold inspections, mycotoxin testing, remediation, and even moving multiple times. I also poured over any online information I could find about mold, hoping for a silver bullet or even just for a temporary fix or Band Aid solution for our home. I wanted time to come to terms with leaving or to get my head around the monumental task of remediation before spending thousands of dollars we did not have on a “solution” that may or may not work. It was all so overwhelming and so confusing, because mold seems to be so poorly understood. Professionals do not even always agree on best practices for remediation. So, I understand that it is important to feel like you can find resources that you can trust.
I would like for this blog to be an informational source that you trust. I don’t want you to doubt everything that you read here, but the truth is that you SHOULD. You should absolutely question, doubt, and dig for your own answers and information on anything I write about. I want us to be a community of people helping each other. I want to be questioned. That is the main reason why I am writing this post today.
Do EC3 Candles Work?
Recently, a reader went onto Amazon to purchase some EC3 Air Purification Candles for use during travel. When she started reading the Amazon reviews, she got a little concerned: reviewers were saying that the candle wax seems to have changed. They are saying that the candles aren’t burning as long or as evenly as before, and maybe aren’t working as well? Maybe the whole formula has changed? She wanted to know what I thought about all of this. She wanted to know if I still use them and think that they work.
Truth be told, this was news to me. I hadn’t ordered candles in a month or so, so I didn’t know. I didn’t know if the candles were different or still as effective. I could not imagine that the formula had changed, but until I could get her some answers, I certainly didn’t want her to spend money on something that could just be snake oil and didn’t work and, heaven forbid, cause her to get sick.
First, I called Micro Balance and asked about any formulation or wax changes. Kevin, their customer service, fulfillment, and everything else manager assured me that nothing in the wax, ingredients, or candle formula had changed. He did tell me that their original wax manufacturer was no longer making the wax, but that they had been able to find another supplier to make the same wax for them. They had also recently changed the size of wicks to make the candles burn more evenly. But, because he was also aware of the recent complaints, he was going to make the entire next run of candles HIMSELF (1,000 candles or more) to ensure that everything was done correctly, the wax temperature was just right for the pours, and that the candles were made with the highest standard of care from beginning to end. Now, I don’t know if you realize this, but Micro Balance is truly a “Mom & Pop” company, with Dr. Dennis behind all product creation, formulation, and clinical trials. He also only released the products for commercial use after they were lab tested and verified to work.
While this information reassured me, I didn’t want to just take his word for it. Thus, I quickly got to work ordering EC3 Air Purification Candles, test plates, and seeking out a significantly moldy area in which to do my experiment. (Note: Just so you know, I could not find a place in our home to do the experiment, because NONE of the rooms I tested had any mold! Yay! I guess all my cleaning like a mad woman is working.)
Proper Uses for EC3 Candles
Now, before I discuss my experiment and what the EC3 Candles should be used for and what they can be trusted to do for your indoor air, I want to first discuss what you CANNOT expect for them to do.
What EC3 Candles CANNOT Do:
- Completely remediate a moldy indoor environment.
- Eliminate all of your mold-related health symptoms.
- Eliminate the need for professional remediation or relocation, if your home is making you sick.
- Be a permanent solution for a “sick” indoor environment.
I know, I know. Why start with the negative? Because, I really feel a deep obligation to be transparent when it comes to questions of mold growth and questions about what products can and cannot make an indoor environment safe. Telling the truth and helping people is my number one priority with this blog. I am never going to tell anyone that I unequivocally KNOW how to solve their mold problems. I am never going to say that one product is going to be the solution for everyone. I would be lying if I said those things. What I can say, and what I know to be true is that there are some products (like the EC3 Candles, for example) that can make living in or visiting less than stellar indoor spaces, in terms of mold, much less inflammatory to your body. There are some products that can successfully, albeit temporarily, take airborne mold counts in a contained, indoor environment down to almost zero during the times when you must be in them. This does not solve a water intrusion issue and active mold problem. This does not eliminate the need for professional containment and remediation of the water or humidity issue and the active mold source. This also will not make you well, but it can definitely help. How? Well, I guess that leads me to telling you what I think that EC3 Candles CAN do, or why I think that they are a worthy investment and tool for those of us who are sensitive to mold.
What EC3 Candles CAN and SHOULD be Used For:
- A tool for temporarily bringing the mold counts in an indoor environment down to levels that are less inflammatory to health and adverse mold-related symptoms;
- A temporary solution to an indoor environment that you cannot control, for example, during travel, before professional remediation, before you can move, when you are in a rental situation, etc.;
- To create more flexibility in your ability to go places or to have people to your home without adverse health outcomes;
- To help you control ambient mold levels in your indoor environment from the influx of normal outdoor fungal ecology;
- To help you control cross contamination from mold sources in other parts of your home;
- To help give you piece of mind that you are in control of your environment.
My EC3 Candle (Non-Scientific) Experiment
(Note: All of my statements below are based on my own “biohacking” and self-experimentation. When I say biohacking–term used loosely, I am meaning citizen or do-it-yourself biology. For many “biohackers,” this consists of making small, incremental diet or lifestyle changes to make small improvements in your health and well-being. For me, biohacking almost always means the experimentation I perform on my indoor environment to see what things work to keep it as mold-free and healthy as possible. The best biohacking results come from being well-informed and cautious about what works for you and your body. Thus, only do the things that feel right for you and your unique health situation. I am making zero claims as to how the candles will work for anyone else. This was just my experience.)
The Experiment Set-up
We have friends with an old workshop in their backyard. It is unattached to their home and rarely, if ever entered. It is also roughly 400 square feet or 20 feet x 20 feet. This is important, because on the container, each EC3 Candle says it can be used to “purify” the air in a 600-square-foot space. Specifically, the Micro Balance website states:
Open candle and place on a flat surface inside of its lid, away from walls, and flammable items. It is advisable to allow the candle to burn for 3 hours to achieve optimal effects. Each candle has a burn life of approximately 16 hours. A general guideline for air purification is to use one candle per 600 square feet of indoor space.
I wanted to test a space that could be closed off as much as possible, so that outdoor mold coming in would not affect the experiment. There was a LOT of dust and some visible mold growth on the roof from water damage. I asked for permission to use it as my laboratory. To conduct the experiment safely, I wore a respirator mask to enter the workshop. When finished, I showered, washed my hair, and bagged and then washed my clothing with EC3 Laundry Additive as precautions upon returning home. In full disclosure, I cannot tell you if the workshop smelled musty or not, because I never entered without the mask on.
My EC3 Candle Test
First, I set out an EC3 Mold Test Plate on the table in the workshop and started my timer.
After one hour of exposure, I closed the test plate, brought it out of the workshop, taped it closed, labelled it, covered it in aluminum foil, labelled the outside with the date, and set it aside. This would be my “control” or BEFORE test.
I wanted to see what the mold counts in the air were like BEFORE burning the candle. The next day, I went back into the workshop with the EC3 Candle. I opened it, placed it on the same table where I placed the test plate, lit the candle and started my timer.
I left the workshop and allowed the EC3 Candle to burn without interruption for 5 hours. (I was forced to give it longer than 3 hours, because I had to pick kiddos up.) When my timer went off, I entered the workshop, and extinguished the candle.
I then set out another test plate, just as before, to take an AFTER air sample.
When that plate had been exposed to the workshop air for approximately 1 hour, I closed it, taped it shut, labelled it, covered it in foil, and took both plates home to incubate.
When the incubation days had passed (5 days per plate), I was able to open the foil for the big reveal . . .
The Test Results
My deduction is that the candle worked and does what it says it does. Burning the candle definitely brought the mold counts in the workshop air down significantly, according to my plate testing. The BEFORE plate cultured 15 + mold colonies.
The AFTER plate only cultured 3 (and I had to use a magnifying glass to find the 3rd) after burning the candle for 5 hours.
According to the test key that comes with the EC3 Mold Screening Test plates, 15 + mold colonies signifies an environment that is inflammatory for ANYONE, aka that workshop is not a safe breathing environment, even if you are NOT mold sensitive. Burning one EC3 Candle for 5 hours was able to make the workshop air temporarily safer (from a mold perspective) for most people, though. Pretty cool, right? I think so. I also think that I can still recommend the candles with confidence.
P.S. Public Service Announcement Alert: I do want to caution you, that I would NOT advise anyone to ever just use candles to try to live in an unsafe indoor environment. They are best utilized as temporary tools to keep you safer when there is not a bigger mold issue, or water event at play.