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Virginia dad invents spit-free way to blow out candles, which filters out dirty air with propeller

Mark Apelt, 44, spent part of his quarantine inventing a new invention to eliminate spit from blowing out birthday candles

A dad who was horrified by the sight of a child’s saliva flying all over the icing of a birthday cake has invented a new gadget that lets users blow out candles without spraying saliva all over the dessert. 

Mark Apelt, 44, a Richmond resident and University of Virginia graduate, came up with the idea for the tool – which he has christened the Blowzee – before COVID-19, but spent quarantine developing it. 

The Blowzee sees users blow into a hole containing a sensor, which activates a propeller at the other end to blow out candles.  That sensor picks up when air is blown in, but none of that actual air emerges from the other end.

Instead, it is circulated back towards the blower, giving them the satisfaction of putting out candles, without contaminating the cake itself.  

Explaining his inspiration, Apelt said: ‘We were at a kid’s birthday party with some friends and the sun was coming through the window at just the right angle so that you could see all of the droplets fly through the air and all over the cake when the kid blew out the candles,’ Apelt told The Daily Progress about the invention’s inspiration.

After the birthday party, Apelt gathered with some friends and joked about the need for a sanitary device, which wasn’t really available on the market.

‘We were all there at the party and we talked about what it’s like when kids blow out the candles because we all saw the spit fly,’ Apelt said. 

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The Blowzee can be used to quench candle flames without getting saliva everywhere

The Blowzee can be used to quench candle flames without getting saliva everywhere

The product was invented by Mark Apelt, who had time to focus on the idea during COVID-19

The product was invented by Mark Apelt, who had time to focus on the idea during COVID-19

Apelt and his friends noted that the gross practice of spitting on food only applies to one delicacy. 

‘We talked about how we don’t do that with any food other than birthday cake. I mean, you don’t do it with hamburgers. No one finishes cooking a hamburger and then blows on it and says, ‘here’s you hamburger.’ 

‘OK, you blow on soup, but you blow on your own soup,’ Apelt added.

Once the world shut down due to COVID-19, Apelt suddenly had time to pursue the idea. He realized that a newly hygiene-obsessed world would also be far more interested in a product that could potentially stop germs spreading. 

A user can blow into the Blowzee, which filters clean air to its ultimate destination

A user can blow into the Blowzee, which filters clean air to its ultimate destination

Meanwhile, it filters the dirty air blown by the user back towards the person

Meanwhile, it filters the dirty air blown by the user back towards the person

‘Then, once the pandemic hit, we had a lot of time to think about it and a reason to work on the idea,’ Apelt said.

The invention is relatively simple. A user blows into the handheld device, which is shaped almost like a kazoo.

At the end of the Blowzee is a small propeller, which is battery-operated, and which activates thanks to a sensor which knows when air is blown in. That propeller helps filter clear air out towards the burning birthday candle, for example.

‘There’s a little electric sensor in there so when you blow into it, you’re activating the sensor and it switches on the fan and that creates enough clean air flow to blow out the candle,’ Apelt says. 

Meanwhile, the dirty air is redirected back towards the person doing the blowing.

‘The blown air never gets near the cake, but the propeller has enough power to blow out the candle. Problem solved,’ Apelt added.

Apelt went through multiple ideas before landing on the Blowzee, including a filtered mask, a carbon dioxide cartridge, and something similar to a vuvuzela.

On the website for the Blowzee, it says that it took ’17 prototypes and over 40 cakes’ to land on the product. 

One of the ideas involved noisemakers, which was ultimately cast aside.

‘When we got closer to the Blowzee concept, we thought about putting some noisemakers in it to entertain the kids, but it’s annoying enough to a parent after about 20 minutes of listening to them blowing on those things without adding noisemakers,’ Apelt said. 

The Blowzee filters out the dirty air with a propeller, which blows out the clean air

The Blowzee filters out the dirty air with a propeller, which blows out the clean air

Once Apelt closed in on the Blowzee design, he posted it to Upworks, a network of freelancers.

A retired electrical engineer in Michigan picked up the design and turned it into a workable plan. 

Next, Apelt had to go overseas to find production for his invention.

‘We found a manufacturer in China, which is the only place that had the sensor we needed, and they agreed to make it for us,’ Apelt said.

Apelt is selling his product for $9.99

Apelt is selling his product for $9.99

He also ran an experiment involving his son and a petri dish to see if the invention actually filtered out dirty air, which proved to be successful.

Still, Apelt needed to take his invention to the masses to see if it would be a hit, bringing it to some birthday parties.

‘We didn’t know what they’d think about it, but we tried it out on some kids at a party and they loved it,’ Apelt said.

‘It’s more like a toy for them. We thought we’d sell one to someone who’s having a party but it turns out they’re buying multiples and putting them in those gift bags they give to everyone who attends the party.’ 

The Blowzee is available for purchase online for $9.99, which is before shipping and handling, free with the purchase of three or more devices.

It can also be found at some bakeries in the local Richmond area.

The lithium battery required to operate the Blowzee comes with the purchase. It is not dishwasher safe and can’t be returned, for hygiene reasons. 

Apelt didn’t state how sales were for the Blowzee, but implied that the fun in creating the product was worth it regardless.

‘It’s been fun. It’s been great to see it out there, but a lot of it was the fun of just making connections all across the world and people offering to help figure stuff out,’ Apelt said. 

The benefits of using such a device are clear too, according to the science behind it.

A 2017 study in the Journal of Food Research reveals a 1400 percent increase in bacteria on birthday cake icing that is blown on versus icing that is not. 


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