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Are Scented Candles Safe?

December 31st, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

scented candlesWhat could be wrong with lighting a scented candle?

It’s relaxing, creates a warm ambiance and smells so nice, it has to be one of life’s more innocent pleasures, doesn’t it?

Not any more…

While the sweet scents and mood enhancing ability of scented candles may be alluring, their by-products are lethal. These days scented candles are filled with artificial fragrances and toxic ingredients that give plenty of reason for concern.

Chemical Fragrance

Most aromatherapy and scented candles contain chemical fragrances. When burned, they are converted into toxins such as acetone (an ingredient in nail polish remover and paint thinner), benezene, toluene, particulate matter and soot. Not only do the soot and chemicals get all over your home, but they get into your nose and lungs where they can do serious harm.

Toxins from Burning

Even burning pure essential oils drastically alters their delicate constituents into potentially harmful substances.

Toxins in Paraffin Wax

Paraffin candles are as dangerous to the lungs as second-hand smoke. The more you candles you burn, the more the harmful effect is multiplied. That’s because when burned, paraffin releases benzene and toluene – known carcinogens. These toxic substances are inhaled into you and your family’s lungs and leave residue on walls, ceilings and fabrics. It’s may be hard to believe the soot from paraffin candles contains many of the same toxins found in diesel fuel, but it’s true.

Lead in Wicks

Candles from China, South America and other developing countries often contain lead in the wicks. These countries lack the resources to monitor the safety of products. Burning a few leaded wicks for only a few hours will increase lead levels 9 to 11 times over acceptable limits. Just burning 4 metal-wick candles for two hours can result in enough airborne lead concentrations to pose a threat to human health. Some homes where leaded wick candles are burned frequently become so toxic, they cannot be sold.

Harmful Additives

Slow-burning candles often contain harmful additives. Gel candles contain petroleum with butylated hydroxyl toluene, not exactly healthy substances. Plus, they have a tendency to explode when overheaded.

“Candles are fast becoming one of the most common unrecognized causes of poor indoor air quality,” says Diane Walsh Astry, Executive Director of the Health House Project, an American Lung Association education project in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Soy candles are less toxic, if you don’t mind burning genetically modified plant matter. Frankly, I don’t want to support the GMO industry in any way, shape or form, nor do I want any GMO residue floating around my air space.

Alternatives

The bottom line is, burning any kind of aromatherapy or scented candle is essentially poisoning yourself and your family.

What can you do? How can you enjoy the fragrances without releasing toxic and sometimes lethal substances into the air?

First, if you must burn a candle, make sure it’s beeswax. Beeswax candles are considerably safer than paraffin and metal-wicked. But they are expensive and not as readily available.

Secondly, try diffusing essential oils instead. Rather than burning essential oils, diffusers work like atomizers, breaking up molecules into a microscopic mist and sending them out into the room. When you diffuse with therapeutic-grade essential oils, you are actually benefiting your body and lungs. Diffusing is a safe, easy and healthy way to infuse your favorite fragrance into your home.

The Ultrasonic Diffuser is a brand-new, state-of-the-art system that can diffuse even the thickest of oils.

Our olefactory sense is an important part of life and should be enjoyed. Harmful and toxic fragrances can be easily avoided. There’s no need to forego infusing your home and life with wonderful scents. Simply diffuse natural fragrances and essential oils instead of burning dangerous scented candles.

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  1. Rick
    August 18th, 2009 at 05:06 | #1

    Nothing in your article is even close to accurate. The fluoride in the toothpaste that you use is much more deadly than a scented candle

  2. Dr
    May 13th, 2011 at 04:13 | #2

    No where in the article is it mentioned that anything was deadly.
    The author plainly stated the facts. It is up to the reader to conclude
    the effects of these facts.

  3. admin
    May 29th, 2011 at 12:43 | #3

    Rick,

    Just stay in a small room with no open windows, doors, or ventilation for several hours and a scented candle burning. See how you feel after a few hours. Heck, stay there all day.

    A person sensitive to chemicals will feel ill within an hour, have a headache in two or less, and be quite ill in a few.

    If you feel nothing, you can be one of the lucky ones with a super strong immune system… or have an immune system so run down and compromised by chemicals that a few more won’t make a difference (at least not immediately)… or simply be someone who won’t admit to being affected.

    Many people feel nothing, but come down with cancer or other life-threatening diseases later in life. Of course it’s hard to pin-point whether scented candles caused it, but my brother-in-law’s prostate cancer got markedly better (proven by tests) when his wife stopped using scented candles and scented dryer sheets.

  4. Jo
    July 1st, 2011 at 05:49 | #4

    I have NEVER felt ill due to burning scented candles, in an inclosed room or not. I don’t think it’s right to scare people like that, especially people who enjoy burning candles, and don’t blame prostate cancer on candles. Or scented dryer sheets. ????That is just ludicrous.

  5. Bethany
    July 21st, 2011 at 07:22 | #5

    Do scented candles still have health risks when they are NOT burnt? If you can smell the fragrance, is that still getting in to your body and harming you?

    What about scented flameless candles? They have all the same scents as real candles, but you do not burn them, so does that make them completely safe?

  6. admin
    July 27th, 2011 at 21:01 | #6

    Bethany,

    Yes, scented candles still have health risks when they are NOT burned. It’s just not quite as bad as when it is burned.

    They are still artificial fragrances made up of toxic chemicals, and those chemicals affect the body adversely.

    The best policy is to stay away from artificial fragrances altogether.

  7. admin
    July 27th, 2011 at 21:06 | #7

    Jo,

    I, on the other hand, have become intensely ill from being in a room with burning scented candles.

    Some people are stronger than others, or perhaps they simply can’t feel any effects.

    I know people whose sense of smell is so dull from years of burning scented candles and using scented dryer sheets that they can’t natural scents anymore. They can’t smell food anymore. And the worse thing is, they can’t even smell their own body odors and heavy perspiration and walk around stinking and grossing everyone else out, and never noticing a thing!

    There are many studies that show what I’m saying if true. The fact that you can’t feel it may mean a lot of things, but certainly not that it’s safe.

  8. Bethany
    August 18th, 2011 at 06:47 | #8

    A co-worker of mine is extremely allergic to any vanilla fragrances. (especially candles i believe)
    She cannot have them anywhere near her, or she becomes very ill.

  9. Chelsey
    November 12th, 2011 at 09:36 | #9

    Thanks for the article, it answered all my questions. I especially appreciated that you gave alternatives to burning scented candles. I just came home with a nice smelling candle and I will be returning it right away. For those of you who disagree, sometimes it’s hard to hear that the things we enjoy are unhealthy for us, but often there are alternatives. It is sometimes pretty incredible where harmful chemicals are found. And if you didn’t notice the site is called “Holistic Health Secrets”, they share about things that are unsafe, so if you are looking for articles that tell you this is a healthy world and chemicals are good for you, you are in the wrong place.

  10. jaime
    November 19th, 2012 at 22:17 | #10

    I’m curious what you think about beeswax candles, with cotton/paper eco-friendly/non-chemical wicks, with safe-to-burn essential oils or no scent. They are said to be completely natural, and clean the air much like a plant, and produce little to no soot. Thoughts?

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