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The Problem with Scented Candles and Your Health

The Problem with Scented Candles & Your Health

One of our readers wanted to know if scented candles are toxic and whether soy candles are bad for you. We researched paraffin, soy, and beeswax candles and natural vs. synthetic candle scents. We discovered that some scented candles release toxins.

Here are three things you need to know about which scented candles are bad for your health. 

Most Candles are Made of Paraffin & Can Emit Toxins

First, most candle makers use paraffin, a chemically-bleached petroleum by-product. When you burn paraffin, it pollutes your air.

A study found that paraffin candles emitted toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene. Lighting many candles in an unventilated space could lead to problems and may aggravate asthma, cause allergy-like symptoms, or irritate your respiratory system. 

Rather than paraffin, look for candles made with pure beeswax or soy. Beeswax and soy candles are safe. When tested, these candles did not release toxins. If your candle doesn't specify that it's made with beeswax or soy, then it's probably made with paraffin. 

Scented Candles May Contain Synthetic, Toxic-Perfumes

The second strike is that candle makers use synthetic perfumes to scent candles. Neither the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) aggressively regulates these synthetic perfumes. As a result, you have no way of knowing what’s being released into your air.

Perfumes can contain any one of 3,000 or more ingredients, many of which are unregulated and potentially toxic. Some fragrances contain phthalates and other substances known to cause cancer and disrupt hormones. Look for candles with natural, non-synthetic fragrances or ones that specify phthalate-free for healthier candles. These natural candles without synthetic perfumes are healthier.

Some Candle Wicks May Contain Lead

The third strike against perfumed candles are the wicks. Some manufacturers make candles with wicks that contain lead. Obviously, you don't want a wick releasing lead into your air. Opt for candles with cotton or wood wicks that are verified lead-free.

If you are a fan of burning scented candles, it's a good idea to find healthier candles that won't pollute your indoor air. Burning a paraffin candle with synthetic fragrance occasionally probably won't harm your health, but if you frequently burn candles, you should explore healthier alternatives. 

Here is our favorite safe beeswax candle, made by Big Dipper Wax Works. They smell wonderful and are amazingly long-lasting.