Heading into the holiday season, it's quite common to stock up on scented candles to either fill your home with beautiful smells or to gift to friends and family.
As tempting as it may be to burn a cinnamon spice candle to help you get into the spirit of Christmas in the northern hemisphere, or to light your favorite summery coconut and lime candle if your Christmas is spent in the heat, these candles may be causing more harm than good.
So What’s So Bad About Candles?
Let’s just start by saying that not all candles are harmful. There are, however, certain types of candles to be wary of.
Many candles are made from paraffin wax. When this wax is heated, the toxic chemicals benzene and toluene are released. The toxins released from paraffin are the same as those found in diesel fumes!
These toxins are also known as phthalates - microscopic particles that are inhaled and can cause major health effects.
Air fresheners found in homes and in cars can also release formaldehyde!
What Are The Health Effects Associated With Scented Candles?
It might be all well and good to say that these candles release toxic chemicals, but you’re probably wondering what the actual health effects are.
Scented candles regularly burned within the home have been linked to cancer, asthma and common allergies. Carcinogens (the toxic chemicals that cause cancer) are dangerous to both humans and animals, so it’s important to consider the pets in your home, too.
Besides just the scent within the candles, it is also important to consider the candle wicks.
Wicks often contain heavy metals, most commonly lead. Lead inhalation can cause hormone disruption and behavior problems, as well as learning disabilities.
What Do The Experts Say?
In 2014, Scientific American reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that there is a strong (though not totally definitive) link between exposure to phthalates during pregnancy and the child's future risk of asthma. Other toxic chemicals we are advised to avoid are Acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol and Cyclopentene. Be sure to check the labels and ingredients list of the candles you purchase.
What Can We Use Instead?
In case you were thinking that your days of filling your house with beautiful aromas were gone - there’s no need to worry! Fortunately, there are many other ways to bring beautiful scents into your home without the toxic chemicals tagging along for the ride.
Alternatives to scented candles include:
Two beautiful Australian companies that ship worldwide are: