February 23, 2017

Many people enjoy burning scented candles to set the mood or to mask unwanted scents in the home. They are convenient and attractive and come in a wide selection of fragrances designed to promote relaxation, elevate mood, and reduce stress. What you may not realize is that burning scented candles in your home may be introducing a health risk to your family and affecting your air quality. Here’s the latest on possible health risks from burning scented candles.

How Safe is Paraffin?

Many candles are made from paraffin, otherwise referred to as wax. This is the same substance used to wax skis. Paraffin is a petroleum byproduct and contains a host of chemicals, including benzene and toluene. When a paraffin candle is burned, these toxic chemicals are released into the air. These are the very same chemicals found in diesel fumes.

What’s in That Wick?

While the U.S. banned the use of lead in wicks in 2003, one study revealed that about 30 percent of candles sold in the U.S. still contained heavy metals. That means burning your scented candles releases lead or other metals into the air posing a health hazard. This can raise the levels of lead in the air you breathe inside your home to unsafe levels, causing everything from learning problems and behavioral problems to imbalances in hormones.

What About Soot?

You’ve probably noticed the soot that gathers on the inside of your candle jar, but you may not have thought about the fact that the same soot is released into the air. According to some sources, this soot poses the same risks as exhaust from diesel engines and may be as dangerous to your health as secondhand smoke.

When a paraffin candle is burned these toxic chemicals are released into the air- the very same chemicals found in diesel fumes.

Is the Fragrance Dangerous?

In some cases, the fragrances used in the candle can cause a health risk. For example, candles with citrus scents contain limonene. When burned this compound reacts with the air and forms formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Can you use Air Fresheners Instead?

Using air fresheners instead of scented candles will eliminate risks associated with soot, but they also pose risks to your indoor air quality. Because they often contain many of the same chemicals and compounds, such as limonene to add a fresh citrusy scent, air fresheners may also release toxins into your home.

What are the Alternatives?

If you enjoy burning scented candles and don’t want to give it up altogether, there are some options. Follow these tips for purchasing and burning scented candles:

  • Read the ingredients carefully.
  • Purchase natural candles, such as soy.
  • Check that the wick does not contain heavy metals.
  • Open a window when burning scented candles.
  • Keep the wick trimmed to reduce the amount of soot from your candle.

If you have other concerns about your indoor air quality, contact Buckeye Heating & Cooling to discuss your current situation. We’d love to help!

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