Scented Candle Toxins.
We’ve all used them at one time or another – those lovely scented candles that help with everything from stress relief to aromatherapy. What you may not have realized however, is that scented candles are loaded with toxins. Problems with candles arise from the artificial fragrances, artificial dyes, type of wax used, and heavy metals used in the wicks.
- Artificial Fragrances: Some candles emit hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and toluene. Both chemicals are toxic to humans. The EPA has extensive studies outlining the health risks of both.
- Paraffin Waxes: Paraffin is petroleum-based and when burned releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. While the concentration from the candle may not be toxic, it is added to the other VOCs already building within your home. Candles made from soy or beeswax will still release some level of chemicals in your home.
- Artificial dyes: When burned, these candles emit additional VOCs into your air. Again, while not toxic alone, it contributes to the overall air quality of your home.
- Heavy Metal Wicks: The EPA has identified that candles that use lead-based wicks release harmful toxins into the air. The EPA specifically calls out that “burning candles containing lead-core wicks can result in indoor air concentrations of lead above EPA-recommended thresholds.” While lead core wicks were banned in 2003, they are still fairly prevalent. They may still represent upwards of 30% of store bought candles, especially low cost candles made in Asia.
How to Avoid Scented Candle Toxins.
You don’t need to stop burning candles to avoid the toxins. There are steps you can take:
- Don’t burn cheap candles – they’re more likely to have candle toxins.
- Stay clear of imported candles.
- Avoid scented candles – even essential oils release chemicals into the air when burned.
- Avoid general aromatherapy products using any form of artificial fragrances.
- Avoid tea light candles – they are more likely to have a lead wick.
- Use candles in moderation around your home.
- Ensure your home has plenty of air scrubbing plants to keep the air clean! Click here for which plants are best at improving indoor air quality.
- Stick with beeswax or soy-based candles if you don’t want to give them up completely. These will have the least candle toxins.
The reality is that candles have been used for centuries. That part is true. What has changed however is that candles today are made with increasingly toxic chemicals not seen in the past. While your health may not be meaningfully impacted by the occasional use of a candle in your home, you do need to consider the cumulative affect that they have on the air quality in your home. By adding plants to your home you can combat candle toxins as well as other chemicals that build up.
If you are still looking for ways to give your home a fresh smell, try various essential oils. You’ll love the results!
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