So, are your candles toxic?
I’ve always been partial to a scented candle. Both beautiful and practical, adding a touch of elegance and ambiance to any room in an instant. FYI you need the ones in the glass jars with the airtight lids on them, I guess it makes sense that they’re the only ones that keep their scents! They were one of the few guilty pleasures I allowed myself in the home. See I thought the only thing that made them a guilty pleasure was the price, I’m sure you can imagine how distraught I was after finding out that these delightful jars of relaxation could possibly be causing very serious implications on my family’s health!
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What makes candles toxic?
The majority of candles are made from paraffin wax which was originally called petroleum wax. It is a petroleum byproduct that undergoes chemical processing and is often contaminated with carcinogenic compounds. In addition to this, they also release carcinogenic soot when burned. You’ll know if you’ve brought a paraffin candle because they’re the cheapest on the market. If you purchase candles from large chain stores then chances are you’ve brought one. As scary as it may sound, when burned they are considered to be an indoor air pollutant. This is because the soot and fumes released by paraffin wax are similar to those that are released from a diesel engine and are as dangerous as second hand cigarette smoke! While this is hazardous for everyone in the house, those already suffering with respiratory problems such as asthma, lung or heart problems are more at risk.
The paraffin soot particles are so fine that they’re able to penetrate the deepest areas of the lungs. In particular the Lower Tract and Alveoli which can cause long term damage. In 2012 the Journal of Aerosol Science research concluded that more than half of all inhaled soot particles remain the body! The World Health Organisation states that indoor air pollution such as this, causes 2 million deaths worldwide annually. They continue to stress that there is consistent evidence that indoor air pollution can result in acute lower respiratory infections in children under 5. In particular Pneumonia which continues to be the biggest killer of young children.
The chemical fragrances that make candles smell so appealing have their own serious health risks. A study carried out by Professor Alastair Lewis of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of York found that an ingredient commonly used to give candles their scent mutates into Formaldehyde upon contact with the air. The ingredient is Limonene which is used to give citrus scented candles their aroma. You may be familiar with Limonene as it is also used to flavour food and give cleaning products and air fresheners their lemony smell. However, the danger arises when it reacts with the air, causing one out of every two molecules to mutate into Formaldehyde.
The Health Protection Agency lists Formaldehyde as a human carcinogen as well as being corrosive and toxic. Today, homes typically let little energy and air escape therefore allowing the Formaldehyde to linger longer inside the home. Long term exposure has been linked with nose and throat cancers whilst short term effects include nose bleeds, sore throats, coughing and stinging eyes.
How to combat the presence of Formaldehyde
Professor Lewis said If you continue to use scented candles and air fresheners, open all doors and windows after using them, to combat the presence of the toxic chemical from your home. Alternatively, some house plants can also reduce the amount of Formaldehyde in the air. English Ivy, Geraniums, Lavender as well as many ferns are known to be the best plants to absorb the chemical.
Safe candle burning options
Here is a non-toxic candle alternative that I use (the only one I’m aware of at the moment) so you can still enjoy those cosy nights in.
- 100% beeswax candles with cotton wicks are completely free of toxins and have amazing added benefits. They act as an air purifier and help to reduce indoor air pollution alleviating allergies and asthma. In addition to this, when burned they produce negative ions. When inhaled the negative ions work on the trachea to stimulate mucus production. This helps the body to cleanse itself of lodged particles like paraffin wax soot! They’re a bit pricier than paraffin candles. However, when you consider the benefits they provide in my opinion they’re worth every penny!
Make sure they are 100% beeswax, as some manufacturers mix beeswax with paraffin because It’s cheaper!
They are naturally scented with honey but If you long for the dreamy scents of the candles we all know and love(d), then you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oils to the candles before burning. I tend to go for lavender myself, but there are so many different oils out there which can be purchased from any health store!
P.s. You can also get 100% Beeswax birthday candles too! Cool huh.
Are your candles toxic? Do you use any natural alternatives that I haven’t mentioned? Please let me know in the comments. Also If you think someone might find this post useful, I’d love if you’d share it using the buttons below.
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