You need to read this before you dig into that orange, pumpkin spice, chocolate, vanilla, leaves blowing in the wind scented candle. I was, not all that long ago addicted to the beautiful light and aroma of my candles. I can light a candle and my house suddenly smells like fresh baked pie, what is there not to like? But are these scented beauties toxic candles? I know a lot of people are wondering if scented candles cause cancer. Read on to get the facts!
Scented candles are possibly one of the easiest ways to mask odors in your home. On top of that, the light from a flickering candle is undeniably pretty. I did not want to give up my candles. I really really did not, but once you know more, you do better. That’s what happened to me.
Unfortunately there is a lot not to like about most candles. I’ll take you through it, and you can be the judge.
Sadly first on the list is the actual stuff they add to candles to make them smell so amazing. It’s called fragrance and it’s why some people cannot even enter a candle store without their asthma acting up, or getting a massive headache. That’s without the candle even burning!
In 2001 the EPA released a study noting that candles with fragrance produce more soot. That’s more junk in your home, at a time when most of us can’t or don’t open the windows to clear the air because its cold out! I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to be breathing in soot on a daily basis.
South Carolina State University researches found in their 2009 study, “that burning paraffin candles produced ‘undesired chemicals,’ like alkans, alkenes, and toluene, which can have harmful effects on humans.
‘For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” said lead researcher and chemistry professor Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi.” Source, Source
A majority of candles are made of paraffin wax, because it is very cheap. This wax creates a highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned -both known carcinogens!! Like inhaling diesel fumes? The toxins released from paraffin candles are the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes.
In the US candle makers are supposed to make wicks from paper and cotton. However this is not always the case, especially if you have some old candles hanging out at home. “A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air, says the CPSC, which is why they banned lead wicks in 2003. Exposure to high amounts of lead has been linked to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and numerous health problems.” Source
The EPA also noted in their study- straight from the abstract “Exposure to incense smoke has been linked with several illnesses, and certain brands of incense also contain chemicals suspected of causing skin irritation.”
And what about that soot that burning candles produces? ” ‘Some families have reported so much soot damage that they have filed insurance claims, only to find such damages aren’t covered in their policies,’ says natural living expert Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home Safe Home…. In addition, you’ll want to look out for aromatherapy candles made of paraffin—a petroleum by product—which release carcinogenic soot when burned. The soot can also cause respiratory problems and will aggravate the conditions of those who already have asthma, lung, or heart problems.” Source
If you dive into the research it’s not 100% clear that candles are pure evil, but their is mounting evidence that candles made with parfifin wax and fragrance, will pollute the air in your homes, possibly lead to health issues and spread soot around your furniture, home and lungs.
Bottom Line- Are You Burning Toxic Candles at Home?
To me it looks like more studies need to be done, but the evidence is mounting. Personally my husband has asthma so I am not taking any chances with him inhaling any extra indoor pollution, whether it causes cancer or not!
If you need to keep candles on hand look for 100% beeswax candles. Beeswax is much more expensive than other waxes, but it does not release any known harmful chemicals into the air. Keep wicks short, as that will also minimize soot flying around your home and dirtying your walls.
If you are looking to replace the smell of your candles, you can do what I have done and diffuse essential oils. I particularly like this pumpkin spice blend, that is even better than my old favorite candle! If you want to try the below, let me know, and I can help! Or sign up here to get started with essential oils!
Photo Credit Flickr User- Tony Court, edited by Heather licensed by creative commons
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