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  • Writer's pictureSara Theresa

Are Your Candles Safe & Non-Toxic?

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners, cleaning supplies, and personal care products, are very prevalent all over our homes. I enjoy lighting a candle late at night or when I want to relish in a relaxing moment or two. When I realized that that there are no rules or bans for paraffin candles and those scented with synthetic oils, I started to research what was in my candles.

The main health concern with traditional paraffin wax candles is that paraffin wax is a by-product of petroleum oil. There may also be long term health impacts to consider. Scented candles may emit active substances that are inhaled and gradually accumulate in urine. One study in the American Association for Cancer Research noted that "the long-term use of scented candles in inadequately ventilated rooms may be a risk for bladder cancer."

Here are four things to consider before purchasing a candle:

Look for a “lead-free” label when shopping for new candles: Fortunately, lead-core wicks were banned in 2003. Some paraffin candles still have lead wicks, which can increase indoor airborne lead concentration. A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Look for non-toxic wax: Beeswax, vegetable and soy based candles are all considered non-toxic formulas for candles. For example, soy wax is made from soybeans and vegetables, both renewable resources.

Understand that even more clean based candles still emit soot into your air: Even after I switched to soy, essential oil based candles that were handmade, it is important to understand that even essential oil based candles omit soot, pollutants and particles in the air that may have an impact on our health. To reduce soot, no matter what kind of wicks are in your candles, trim wicks to 1/8 inch.

Consider that we all are impacted slightly differently by fragrance: All of us are impacted differently by fragranced products. An NIH funded study in 2016 said that 34.7 % of those who responded to the survey reported health problems, such as migraine headaches and respiratory difficulties, when exposed to fragranced products.

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