If you’re using scented candles to mask other smells, consider deodorizing your home with baking soda instead. Paraffin and Synthetic free. If you have candles in your attic from before 2003 and you’re worried those could have lead in them, they probably don’t given that National Candle Association members voluntarily agreed to not use lead wicks in 1974 (and yes, Yankee Candle is a member). Limited information is given about A lot of candles say “lead free”, but that’s not enough. Lead is especially dangerous, as it is known to cause severe developmental problems in children. On the more serious side, volatile organic compounds have been linked to damage to vital organs, including the liver, kidney and central nervous system. If you still need your candle fix but want to avoid phthalates altogether, try these DIY candles that incorporate essential oils into the wax mixture: This content is imported from YouTube. You can get more creative as well, such as using things like potpourri, fresh flowers, and boiling citrus peels in water. Candles can be a source of lung irritation. If you like to burn candles solely for the aromatherapy and to add fragrance to a room, you can swap out the candle for a diffuser. This candle smells so heavenly you will feel any stress slip away from the first whiff. At the end of the day, you will need to make a balance between using scented candles and the potential occupants that may occupy that space. Scented candles are popular and can often be a part of home decor and even your daily routines. Some scholars contend that no level of lead is safe and even tiny amounts of lead exposure are dangerous. Anything that releases smoke decreases the air quality around it, whether it be a coal plant, a burnt piece of toast or a scented candle. The surprise is how much extra pollution they create when they are extinguished. While lighting a paraffin candle once in a whilewon’t noticeably affect you, paraffin candles are more likely to emit toxic fumes. OK, so the wick is fine, but what about the big chunk of wax that is the actual candle? These can impact those with breathing disorders such as … The Candles Your Favorite Celebrities Are Burning, Cure Your Homesickness With These State Candles, You Need These Hocus Pocus Candles on Your Mantel, These Harry Potter Candles Are Everything. The main culprits behind the health risks in scented candle smoke are particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and lead. When Air Pollution Gets Worse: 10 Tips to Protect Yourself, Air Quality: Other Pollutants Beyond Particulate Matter (PM), The design-obsessed gift guide (or how to add some design into your life), Molekule-Approved Gifts for Expecting Parents. If you are using candles in a normal way in a well-ventilated area, they are unlikely to affect your health. If candles are bad for you, there are many years of anecdotal evidence to suggest the opposite. Alongside wood and coal burning stoves, and indoor non-compliant fire places, candles are a major source of indoor pollution that can cause a worsening of … Writers often cite a 2009 study by South Carolina State University researchers that claimed that paraffin wax releases harmful chemicals such as toluene. People have burned candles for centuries and no strong studies or science has convincingly proven their danger to human health. Christmas Tree Allergies: How to Deal With Them. The main culprit in this research: scented paraffin wax candles. The components of the candle are the primary source of environmental problems. This doesn’t mean we should blindly accept and trust an industry as the sole source of truth on any matter. At this point one of the few ways you could end up with a lead-core wick candle is if you imported one that wasn’t governed by these regulations but even then the chances are slim as there are National Candle Association (NCA) equivalents worldwide ensuring the safety of candles. To ensure that you are getting lead-free candles, make sure to check for labels indicating that the wick is 100% cotton and that you are purchasing your candles from a source you trust. Best wishes for you Particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and lead are especially troublesome for small children and pets. The Tumbler candles are made from a blend of aforementioned paraffin wax and soy wax. All of these candles are made of paraffin, which may not contain the most ideal candle ingredient available as referenced above. What Makes Candles So Bad Paraffin is the major ingredient in most conventional candles and is a sludge waste product from the petroleum industry. This dreamy candle has scents of pure lavender, roman chamomile and bergamot essential oils – all of which again we know will relax our pooch to no end. According to Harrington (and my research) there’s no scientific basis for these claims that paraffin, or soy, or any other sort of wax could be harmful when burned. Scented candles are of particular concern since, as we mentioned earlier, they release potentially toxic volatile organic compounds without even being burnt. The Yankee Candle Company, though known mostly for scented candles, makes a small number of other products. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. When humans started making candles thousands of years ago, they used animal fat, plants or insects. However, this study has been called into question by the NCA particularly because it was never published in a journal and peer reviewed. Most scented candles are made of paraffin wax, but there is a burgeoning market for alternative candles made of vegetable or beeswax. Also, thanks for letting us know how we can make candles ourselves. Choosing a safe candle is an easy task-if you know where to look. Not just fragrance, but candles made from petroleum/paraffin emit toxic fumes into your home! On one side of the health effects, volatile organic compounds can cause irritation and allergic reactions. I read the article, and then another, and another—all warning me that my candles were ruining my life. Second of all, make sure that your home is properly ventilated during and after burning the scented candles. They are an essential part of any #selfcare routine, but experts say your love of scented candles could be harming the environment and causing you … Anything that releases smoke decreases the air quality around it, whether it be a coal plant, a burnt piece of toast or a scented candle. Beeswax candles will effectively reduce allergies, asthma, and hay fever and will not contribute to the release of contaminants into the air like other candles. Which Candles Are Bad? But we constantly hear that candles have lead wicks and we want people to understand that that is not the case, it hasn’t been for years and years,” Rob Harrington, Ph.D., a toxicologist with the National Candle Association. Why you should NOT use ear candles Ear Candling is a practice that alternative medicine practitioners claim will remove unwanted ear wax, impurities and toxins from the ear. If you are concerned, we would suggest that you light up the candles again after pregnancy. “ I’m not saying don’t put candles on your kids birthday cake, but don’t think of them as a benign thing if you’re having them burning for hours on end in your home,” she said. Another popular brand of scented candles is Yankee Candles. But here’s the thing, upon closer inspection I found that the majority of these articles didn’t have any studies or hard facts to back them up. The candles at Yankee Candle is non-toxic and safe for use. If it’s been a while since you took an environmental science class, let me break particulate matter (PM) down for you. According to Nolen these candles emit the type of particle pollution that could contribute to these dangerous side effects. The biggest issue with candles are toxic wax and, in the case of older candles, toxic wicks. It may be shocking to think that your favorite candles could potentially be bad for you, and made worse by added fragrances. It helped the wick stay upright as it burned. Because of this, you should still keep in mind that they aren’t completely free from impacting your indoor air. The independently conducted study found that “ all the major waxes burned in a very similar manner and all waxes produced virtually identical combustion products...all waxes were shown to be safe when used in candles,” said Harrington. Candle smoke or "soot" is the carbon created from incomplete combustion. Look out for aromatherapy candles made of paraffin—a petroleum byproduct—which releases … Thank you so much for letting us know about it. That, however is not quite true. When these little tiny particles get into our lungs they can cause everything from coughing and wheezing to acute health issues like heart attacks or stroke. “Candles are something that people perceive as being benign and it’s important to realize that they are not benign,” she said. Scented candles, because of all of the extra ingredients added to give them their smell, release higher rates of particulate matter. Scented Candles = More Indoor Air Pollution. The main culprits behind the health risks in scented candle smoke are particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and lead. One of the internet’s most frequently asked candle related questions is… are scented candles bad for you.Like everything in this world there is the good the bad and the better, that includes what goes into your favorite scented candles. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. If you must use scented candles for special occasions and holiday parties, you should consider improving your indoor air ventilation and filtration. There’s no hard and fast rule for how long it’s safe to burn a candle before it starts causing any trouble (the research just isn’t there) but in Nolen’s opinion, “the longer they burn the more they’re producing pollution,” so try to not to burn them all day long. Among these are antibacterial hand soaps, sanitizers and lip balms. So unless you are concerned about the PM or VOCs in your home you’re good to let them burn. So, I felt owning while reading your article. Research has shown that burning certain types of candles can create emissions, or air pollutants, that are harmful to human health. If you are going to burn candles, the best options are to find ones made from: 1) Beeswax 2) Organic Soy 3) Coconut wax. It turns out that the one bad study everyone is relying on to make their case is not particularly trust-worthy, “It’s not bad science it’s non-science,” said Harrington. The highest amount of particulate matter is released once the candle is blown out and visible smoke is rising from the wick. Despite this, studies have found 8 percent of brands still include lead in the manufacturing of their candles. C… Rob agrees, yes candles do release particulate matter, and yes they do release VOCs but there’s no indication that the PM and VOCs coming from candles are any worse than what you would find just taking a stroll outside. Rub white paper on the wick of an un-burnt candle, if the wick leaves a gray pencil-like mark there’s lead in it, if there’s no gray you’re good to go. It is also alleged to contribute to a greater sense of well-being as well as enhanced physical and mental health. Candle soot can damage property, but has not been shown to have any adverse health effects. Sadly, the bad news about scented candles doesn’t stop there. However, it’s not that candles are the only source of particle pollution in your home but rather that they can become an added source that isn’t essential for your everyday life. Some people claim that candles release potentially harmful toxins. And if you are concerned, Nolen recommends electric candles for ambiance. As this other study by European researchers found, when candles burn they produce mostly carbon dioxide, water, and fragrance (if you’re burning a scented candle) and any other chemicals that are produced when burning are found in such low concentrations that they don’t pose any serious risk to health. Placing a few jars half full of baking soda throughout your home can improve the smell of your indoor air. House Beautiful participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. Burning candles can be bad for the environment in a number of ways. Well it turns out that’s not as bad as some writers would have you believe either. Well, nothing else has really come up to make us think otherwise. Lead was routinely used in the manufacture of candle wicks for decades. “There’s no question that a candle does produce these but they produce very very small amounts compared to the air that you’re breathing,” he said. Diffusers disperse essential oils that fills a room or area with natural fragrance. Yes it’s true that the fragrances which make candles so enticing are made with chemicals (it’s not surprising you can’t pack a pine tree forest into some wax) but all of these fragrances typically conform to safety standards established by the International Fragrance Association, which ensures that chemicals used are non-toxic and safe for human use. While in the past, wicks were made with lead in order to make the wick stiffer, lead wicks were officially outlawed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2003. First, you should consider beeswax based scented candles, which burn “cleaner” than alternatives and release a lower amount of pollutants. Another point of contention when it comes to candles and their effects on health is whether or not they release harmful particulate matter into the air—and this is where Nolen definitely feels that candles can be harmful. Ensure that you are circulating air by opening windows and maintaining your ventilation system at all times. It won’t pull all the pollutants out, but it’s better than doing nothing. Claim 2: Candle wax is made from harmful chemicals that are released when burned. But for people that can be sensitive to their byproducts, scented candles may not be right for your household. Beeswax or soy candles. Even if you have gotten rid of all your candles that had lead wicks these candles are still not safe due to the wax that is being used. So I decided that before I threw out all my lovely (and expensive) candles I should do some proper investigating to address all the internet claims that claim candles are a silent killer. Scented candles are also beloved as ornamental flourishes for the home, especially during the holiday season. As the wax burns, the flame on the wick continually melts the candle and draws fresh liquid wax into its fibers. Other Yankee Candle Products. The respiratory and nervous systems of these smaller beings are especially sensitive to external toxins. Particulate matter is so small that the particles can get deep into your lungs and cause respiratory problems and even contribute to lung cancer. There’s some debate about whether burning candles is bad for your health. To summarize, candles are no longer made with lead-core wicks, their wax is non-toxic, and you don’t need to feel bad for enjoying their delicious scents … So yes, candles do produce PM and VOCs, both of which have been found to be harmful to health, but as Nolen pointed out, the issue may not lie in the burning of candles themselves but rather in how long you’re burning them. Candles work when you light the wick, which is the string sticking out of the end of the candle. Bath and Body Works is a huge chain and has become well-known for its three wick scented candles. Blended with essential oils or premium grade fresh & earth fragrances, these candles have cotton wicks, are soot-free, and are eco-friendly. If you love scented candles too much to discard them completely, you can take some actions to limit scented candles impact to your indoor air. In my recent searching through the web I came across an article made me stop my scrolling and actually pay attention, “Are Your Candles Toxic?” read the headline. If they contain harmful and volatile ingredients like paraffin wax. If you want to use candles, use a beeswax version and if you want a scent then put some fresh, wildcrafted 100% pure essential oils in an ultrasonic diffuser and your health with thank you. You also want to make sure it has a cotton wick. However, some candles can release particulates that include toxins and carcinogens. Here are some alternatives to consider instead of burning scented candles. Blowing out a candle and remaining close to that scent – close enough to inhale it – sometimes causes nausea, dizziness and headaches. You can also try your luck at farmer’s markets to find beeswax candles from local makers, or even consider making your own at home with beeswax candle making kits that can easily be found online or local hobby shops. Scented candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution. These are all valid concerns and we’ll be addressing these and more in our article below. When you light a candle by holding a flame to the wick, heat melts the wax at the top of the candle. Additionally, burning scented candles create a wide variety of volatile organic compounds, which are a family of chemicals which include things like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Steinemann said for some people, the effects are "immediate, acute and severe," while others may not realize they are … I am considering candle making and have been reading article after article and understand what you say: burning candles pollutes the indoor air, period. What Is PM 2.5 and How Can You Reduce Your Exposure? Paraffin is derived from petroleum and made up of straight-chain hydrocarbons, which combust to produce a dark soot that can get into linens, stain walls, and lead to respiratory problems. Now in liquid form, the wax seeps into the wick and begins to burn on its own. To summarize, candles are no longer made with lead-core wicks, their wax is non-toxic, and you don’t need to feel bad for enjoying their delicious scents (unless you have asthma or allergies). Most candles that you find today are made of paraffin wax, but unfortunately, it’s not the safest compound to be inhaling as it burns. There are studies that link hydrocarbon to cancer, the same harmful additive that’s in paraffin wax which is also found in some candles. Candles are not bad for you. Depending on the type of candle you’re burning, candles can be bad for your home. Orchard Harvest all natural candles are hand-poured and made from soy, palm, and vegetable waxes with no petroleum or paraffin ingredients. I was aghast, never in my wildest dreams did I even imagine that my beloved Anthropologie candles could be poisoning me while they filled my home with lovely hints of vanilla and peaches. If you must use an actual candle, try beeswax or soy candles. Another point that Nolen brings up is the fact that candles emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), chemicals that may be harmful on their own or interact with other chemicals in the air to produce harmful compounds. A luxury candle checklist. Similarly, a study sponsored by international candle organizations — including the U.S.-based National Candle Association — compared paraffin wax, soy wax, palm wax, and beeswax candles and determined that they all burned similarly and safely. There are three major materials that makeup candles today. Once the risks of lead became apparent, the candle industry voluntarily agreed to remove lead from its wicks. It’s made from soy wax using high-grade braided cotton wicks and burns for up to 50 hours. The biggest health risk associated with scented candles is the lead contained in the wicks of some brands. Candles give off particulate air pollution and VOC’s both of which are proven to be bad for your health. According to these writers many of the candles that people purchase are made with wicks made of lead that when lit can release seriously harmful (and carcinogenic) chemicals into your home. “Lead wicks have been banned in the United States for almost two decades. The soot/fumes are similar to that released from a diesel engine and can be as dangerous as second-hand cigarette smoke. Lead is a lesser concern since it was banned by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) in 2000. Beeswax and soy candles, in comparison to paraffin candles, are the more advantageous choices when it comes to selecting a candle that will be safer for your health and your air quality. As with nearly anything that burns, candles release particulate matter. Candle soot is also chemically different from soot produced by burning diesel, coal, and gasoline. So OK, one study was not reliable, that doesn’t mean wax is in the clear right? To give you some background, candles are usually made from paraffin wax or soy wax, both of which are solids that act as the fuel for candle flame. Upon closer inspection, the NCA also found that the researcher who conducted the study never verified that the candles he looked at were actually paraffin or soy candles and that one of the harmful chemicals the researcher claimed to have found in paraffin candles (trichloroethylene) could not have been produced in combustion given that paraffin doesn’t contain the elements necessary to produce it. Today, they are made from soy, beeswax, or, most commonly, paraffin wax. It releases carcinogenic chemicals when burned. OK, so the wick is fine, and the wax is harmless, but what about the fragrance in scented candles? You can also consider using an air purifier such as Molekule, which can destroy harmful chemicals and filter particulate matter. Your curiosity may have started after seeing the ingredients list on your candles or wondering about the effect burning candles have on indoor air quality. Every item on this page was hand-picked by a House Beautiful editor. 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