When you close your eyes and think of the soothing feel of a room filled with illuminated candles sharing a soft glow, you could be taken aback by a brief glimpse of heaven on Earth. While most women fantasize about snuggling up with a chilled glass of wine beside a warm, gentle flame, few take the time to consider the harm that candle could bring.
Seasonal fragrances like apple cinnamon and pumpkin spice may sound delightful, but there are some concerns that should be addressed before you reach for a lighter. Scented candles may seem safe, but studies show that some are a major cause of indoor pollution.
The chemicals found in the candle’s wax, fragrance, and even lead-coated wicks burn off and circulate through your air. Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi, lead research and chemistry professor from South Carolina State, went on record saying:
“For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies, and even asthma.”
If you’re already predisposed to any of the above, your candle addiction could be hazardous to your health. That is, if you’re not being mindful of the type of candles you’re burning.
Since we know that we all love our candles, BLK + GRN has put together this piece to help you understand why you should think before you restock your personal collection. We’ll show you what to look for, what to avoid, and how to choose candles that don’t require you to wear a hazmat suit just to sit in the same room with them.
Types of Candle Wax
Most of the candles lining store shelves are made from paraffin, which is a waste product derived from petroleum. Before it’s poured into the jar, this biohazard has to be chemically bleached to make it appear more “wax-like”.
By the time you get them home, paraffin wax candles are saturated in toxins that emit high concentrations of benzene and toluene, known carcinogens. You probably never knew that your favorite “clean linen” scented candle may actually be clogging your lungs with some of the same toxins found in burnt diesel fuel.
For a much safer alternative, try soy wax instead; the industry’s response to the consumers’ condemnation of paraffin. Some all-natural soy candles are made from 100% soybean oil. Others add plant-based vegetable oils like coconut oil or natural waxes like palm or beeswax.
“The toxic chemicals in your candle’s artificial scents and dyes are strike number three. Adding to the cocktail of hazardous chemicals freed by the flame, these pseudo soothing fragrances could be poisoning the air you breathe. “
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Be careful when buying soy candles off the shelves. Some corporate brands cut corners, and blend soy with paraffin wax. Regulations allow any candle with at least a 51% soy wax content to be labeled as a soy candle.
If soy isn’t your cup of tea or if you have a soy allergy, we also offer a pure coconut wax candle which burns even longer than soy wax alternatives. Infused with lavender, lemongrass, and ylang-ylang, the organic coconut Choiselle candle is a heavenly blend of fragrances.
Candle companies try to entice you with high-resolution imagery and “scratch and sniff” stickers, but the things that aren’t advertised cause the most alarm. On top of the hazardous materials used to make the standard candle, many are fueled by wicks that contain heavy metals.
It only takes a few hours of exposure to start inhaling startling levels of airborne toxins. Your average scented candles can produce heavy metal concentrations that exceed far beyond what’s deemed “acceptable”. United States regulations state that candle wicks should be made from cotton or paper. Studies proved that up to 30% of our candles are marinated in heavy metals.
Lead wicks release five times the lead hazard levels for a child and “exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air”. Officially banned over 15 years ago, somehow, lead-core wicks still make it to the shelves of our stores. Chronic exposure can be directly linked to issues like “hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities” and many more health concerns.
Because of this, BLK + GRN artisans like NaturalAnnie Essentials produce 100% vegan, 100% eco-friendly, and 100% recyclable soy wax candles with all-natural ECO wicks which are free from lead and zinc.
The toxic chemicals in your candle’s artificial scents and dyes are strike number three. Adding to the cocktail of hazardous chemicals freed by the flame, these pseudo soothing fragrances could be poisoning the air you breathe.
Keeper of the Home released a comprehensive list of all the potentially toxic chemicals that could be in your candles:
- Carbon Disulfide
- Carbon Tetrachloride
Let’s just say many of these ingredients are also found in paint, lacquer, and varnish.
That ring of soot that forms at the mouth of your candle’s jar could be evidence of diesel-quality petrol soot, which is known to be “just as dangerous as second-hand smoke, causing problems from headaches to lung cancer.” In fact, “paraffin fumes have been found to cause tumors in the kidneys and liver of lab animals.”
As always, all-natural essential oils are a more fitting alternative to synthetic oils. In fact, depending on how you choose to use them, certain essential oil combinations can be a great substitute for candle burning. Use your chakra candles to lift your spirits during meditation, then sub with a quick whiff of lavender or rose essential oils to relax during the day.
By choosing the best quality products and alternating between soothing techniques, you’ll keep your air (and your body) as pure as nature designed it to be.
Be sure to check out all the candles we sell on BLK + GRN.