Hidden dangers: Winter is officially upon us, setting the tone for nights filled with hot chocolate, warm fuzzy blankets, roaring fires, and lit, scented candles. But before you bathe your home with candlelight, take a second look at what toxic ingredients may be lurking in your candles. Scented candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution, emitting carcinogenic substances such as petroleum waste products like benzene and toluene. When lit, they also release a wide range of chemicals, heavy metals and pollutants, many of which are as toxic as second-hand smoke.
What you should avoid: To start, avoid candles made with paraffin wax. It is a petroleum byproduct, although it is more commonly produced synthetically today. When burned, paraffin creates highly toxic pollutants that are commonly found in diesel fumes, lacquer and varnish removers, and even paint. Paraffin fumes can cause disorders ranging from headaches to lung cancer, and may lead to tumors in the kidney and liver. There are different grades of paraffin wax, some being more toxic than others, but since it is difficult to determine the quality, it is easiest to avoid them all together. Next, steer clear of gel candles. They are made from petroleum-based wax or synthetic hydrocarbons, both of which are harmful to your health. Other ingredients to by wary of are artificial scents or fragrances. Fragrances are manufactured from petroleum or coal tar and may lead to conditions such as allergies, headaches, dizziness, nausea and muscle aches. Finally, don’t purchase any candles with a metal wick. Even a few hours of burning can release heavy metals like lead. Exposure to a high concentration of heavy metals is known to cause mental disabilities, behavioral problems, hormone imbalances and infertility.
Avoid: Paraffin wax, gel candles, artificial scents or fragrances, metal wicks
Here’s what to do: There are so many alternatives to choose from, this will be the easiest transition you’ll ever make! From eco-friendly beeswax to DIY coconut and soy candles, there is an option for your every need. 100% beeswax candles are a great choice because they emit natural light and negative ions. Negative ions help to purify the air, helping to reduce indoor air pollution. Candles made with undyed vegetable, soy, rice, palm or coconut wax are also non-toxic, safe options. Make sure the candles are not mixed with refined paraffin, and are made with pure essential oils. Only purchase candles with natural cotton wicks.