Scented candles provide alluring smells throughout your home, whether it is the scent of pumpkin or cinnamon during the holidays or strawberry-watermelon on a spring afternoon. However, research shows that while you’re breathing in these irresistible scents, you may also be inhaling polluted air.
Scented candles can affect our health because many contain a petroleum waste product called paraffin, which releases toxins into the air, says Shem Gott of Mr. B’s Luminaries.
But that’s not all. According to this study, scented candles also contain volatile organic compounds, which can irritate eyes, nose and throat and cause liver and kidney damage. In addition, VOCs can also cause cancer in humans and animals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition to these compounds, scented candles can also contain lead and other heavy metals, according to this study.
Breathing in toxins released from scented candles can also lead to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities and other health problems, according to an article from Green America. In addition, the chemicals can worsen conditions such as asthma and lung or heart problems.
Eric Johnson of Candleworks says in this Green America article: “Burning an aromatherapy candle made of paraffin is similar to preparing a healthy drink of fresh squeezed juice and adding a shot of gasoline.”
In addition, soot from paraffin wax can harm household items, including electrical appliances, computers and ductwork.
OK, enough with the bad news. There are alternatives to scented candles, including soy-based candles, beeswax candles and candles with vegetable-based wax. These alternatives are made of essential oils distilled from plants such as lavender and lemongrass, are sustainable, and burn a lot cleaner, says Gott. Beeswax candles also help purify the air.
You can also make your own candles at home. Check out Gott’s video for the recipe.
Although we say goodbye to scented candles with a heavy heart, we can still enjoy the alternatives and be surrounded by fresh, clean air.