Look out for aromatherapy candles made of paraffin—a petroleum byproduct—which releases … Bath and Body Works is a huge chain and has become well-known for its three wick scented candles. One important point to remember: while beeswax and soy candles release fewer volatile organic compounds than paraffin candles, burning them still releases particulate matter. Let’s take a look at a few popular scented candle brands and assess their health risk potential. Depending on the type of candle you’re burning, candles can be bad for your home. 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. Best wishes for you Most scented candles are made of paraffin wax, but there is a burgeoning market for alternative candles made of vegetable or beeswax. 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). 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. Particulate matter is so small that the particles can get deep into your lungs and cause respiratory problems and even contribute to lung cancer. Scented paraffin wax candles are the most common type of candle sold. What Is PM 2.5 and How Can You Reduce Your Exposure? Another popular brand of scented candles is Yankee Candles. Some scholars contend that no level of lead is safe and even tiny amounts of lead exposure are dangerous. 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. Burning candles can be bad for the environment in a number of ways. While lighting a paraffin candle once in a whilewon’t noticeably affect you, paraffin candles are more likely to emit toxic fumes. If you are going to burn candles, the best options are to find ones made from: 1) Beeswax 2) Organic Soy 3) Coconut wax. The resulting smoke creates millions of ultra fine particles which remain in the air for several hours for you … 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. There are studies that link hydrocarbon to cancer, the same harmful additive that’s in paraffin wax which is also found in some 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. “Lead wicks have been banned in the United States for almost two decades. There are three major materials that makeup candles today. 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. If you must use scented candles for special occasions and holiday parties, you should consider improving your indoor air ventilation and filtration. Once the risks of lead became apparent, the candle industry voluntarily agreed to remove lead from its wicks. 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. 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. Blowing out a candle and remaining close to that scent – close enough to inhale it – sometimes causes nausea, dizziness and headaches. PM refers to solid and liquid particles that are in the air we breathe, the smallest of which can go past our bodies natural defense systems and into our lungs. When you light a candle by holding a flame to the wick, heat melts the wax at the top of the candle. The candles you’re burning could be emitting air pollutants that are bad for you and bad for your home. 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 biggest health risk associated with scented candles is the lead contained in the wicks of some brands. First on the list is Bath and Body Works candles. If you’re finding yourself inclined to reduce the amount of particulate matter in your environment but can’t seem to put the candles away the best thing you can do is reduce the amount of time you burn them. Thank you so much for letting us know about it. 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). If they contain harmful and volatile ingredients like paraffin wax. If you’re concerned with having the best possible indoor air quality environment in your home, burning candles can pose some challenges to this mission. Sadly, the bad news about scented candles doesn’t stop there. As with nearly anything that burns, candles release particulate matter. Many companies that make beeswax candles are smaller, independently run shops such as Cheeky Bee. Limited information is given about The highest amount of particulate matter is released once the candle is blown out and visible smoke is rising from the wick. 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 … Now in liquid form, the wax seeps into the wick and begins to burn on its own. The main culprit in this research: scented paraffin wax candles. First, you should consider beeswax based scented candles, which burn “cleaner” than alternatives and release a lower amount of pollutants. The respiratory and nervous systems of these smaller beings are especially sensitive to external toxins. Also, thanks for letting us know how we can make candles ourselves. 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. Scented candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution. 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. The caveat with scented candles is that while the fragrance itself may be safe, it can cause problems for certain populations. 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. The main culprits behind the health risks in scented candle smoke are particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and lead. 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. Lead is especially dangerous, as it is known to cause severe developmental problems in children. “Candles are something that people perceive as being benign and it’s important to realize that they are not benign,” she said. So OK, one study was not reliable, that doesn’t mean wax is in the clear right? Candle soot is also chemically different from soot produced by burning diesel, coal, and gasoline. Which Candles Are Bad? You can also consider using an air purifier such as Molekule, which can destroy harmful chemicals and filter particulate matter. The candles at Yankee Candle is non-toxic and safe for use. Paraffin is a soft, colorless byproduct of petroleum, a liquid found beneath the earth’s surface that can be turned into fuel. However, this study has been called into question by the NCA particularly because it was never published in a journal and peer reviewed. There’s some debate about whether burning candles is bad for your health. As the wax burns, the flame on the wick continually melts the candle and draws fresh liquid wax into its fibers. 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. Scented candles are also beloved as ornamental flourishes for the home, especially during the holiday season. A lot of candles say “lead free”, but that’s not enough. These are all valid concerns and we’ll be addressing these and more in our article below. I used to ask a question in my mind that ‘Are candles bad for health or not’ whenever i went to a birthday party or stuff. Writers often cite a 2009 study by South Carolina State University researchers that claimed that paraffin wax releases harmful chemicals such as toluene. The surprise is how much extra pollution they create when they are extinguished. Candle smoke or "soot" is the carbon created from incomplete combustion. 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 … 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. It may be shocking to think that your favorite candles could potentially be bad for you, and made worse by added fragrances. 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. 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. 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. 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