Everybody loves candles! But, have you ever actually thought about what goes into the candles you love so much? Yes, indeed, burning candles is an easy way to add a pleasant fragrance to a room. It can be relaxing to watch the flame flicker in dim light, but that flickering candle may not be so beneficial when it comes to health. Scented candles are often marketed as offering health benefits due to their aromatherapy properties, but the reality is that candles are an underappreciated source of indoor air pollution. What are the dangers of scented candles and why are they best avoided?
What is Paraffin? Paraffin is a waxy, white or colorless solid mixture of hydrocarbons made from petroleum. Most candles you find today in your local supermarket, Walmart or major retailer are made from paraffin. To make paraffin wax, petroleum is combined with several additives including chlorine-containing bleach to make the finished product. When a scented candle is lit, the odor permeates throughout the room and black debris collects in the form of soot. This soot is very similar in composition to that of diesel fuel – a mixture of a variety of cancer-causing chemicals including benzene, carbon tetrachloride, toluene, and naphthalene. These petroleum-based fumes can quickly fill up a room and pollute the air.
As if that isn’t enough, there are also concerns about the metal wick of scented candles. Some metal wicks contain lead which creates gaseous lead fumes when the candle is burned. These can readily enter the lungs and cause blood lead levels to rise which is a problem, particularly for children. Although metal wicks containing lead were banned in 2003 and have been replaced by zinc, some candles may still contain dangerous levels of lead, particularly those that are imported from other countries.
Another problem with the use of scented candles is that they may be scented with synthetic oils that are petroleum based, rather than with the natural essential oils that most people expect. This provides an additional source of exposure to petroleum-based fumes. Those most at risk from the fumes released by scented candles are pregnant women, children, and pets. There have been cases of children drinking the oil from decorative candles believing it was juice. When this happens, the results can be devastating.
What are some alternatives to use of scented candles that are paraffin based? Coco & Bubbles soy candles are a non-toxic, environmentally friendly alternative that burn cleanly, producing only small amounts of non-toxic soot. We also use a 100% cotton wicks and Phthalate-free fragrance oils. Why take chances with paraffin-based candles when there are other alternatives available?