The Hazard of Scented Candles (and the Healthy Alternatives)

Scented candles are one of the most common gifts given for birthdays, celebrations, and during the holidays. Few things are as comforting as candles burning on a dreary day in winter or wafting through your bedroom on a spring afternoon. Scented candles can set the mood for a party you've thrown, can help you relax after a stressful day, and can mask unwanted odors in your home. But, are scented candles hazardous to your health? A 2009 study from South Carolina State University warns that burning scented candles releases toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans.

Scented candles are made of paraffin wax, a petroleum waste product that's deodorized and chemically bleached during production.

Have you ever walked into a store full of scented candles or perfumes and broken out in a sneezing fit? A study from The American Chemical Society found that the chemicals in paraffin wax and artificial scents can contribute to the onset of asthma and allergies. Paraffin releases highly toxic chemicals, benzene and toluene, when burned. These are the same chemicals found in diesel fuel!

Many scented candles also have wicks that contain harmful heavy metals like lead.

When burned for a few hours a candle with a lead wick leaves five times the amount of lead considered harmful for children in the air. While most candle wicks are now made from paper and cotton in the United States, more than 30% of candles on the market contain lead in the wick.

If you're lighting up scented candles in a small space on a daily basis, you might want to reconsider your habit. The artificial dyes and scents in many candles contribute to air pollution by releasing more toxic chemicals like phthalates, an endocrine disrupting chemical that's been shown to cause cancer and fertility related issues. Inhaling the air pollution caused by scented candles can be as bad as inhaling heavy second hand smoke.

Luckily there are some awesome healthy candle alternatives on the market!

Look for candles with ingredients like beeswax, soy wax, essential oils and cotton or paper wicks. Avoid burning candles made in countries that don't require ingredients to be labeled and still allow lead to be used in the wicks. If you peel a candle wick apart and see any metal or wire don't light it! Many candles list "fragrance", "secret mix", and "wax" as ingredients, which usually means chemicals, artificially oils, and paraffin wax were used. Steer clear! While it might be hard to give up your favorite scented candles, the following healthy alternatives won't leave you missing them for long.

1. Beeswax Candles:

Made with 100% beeswax and a cotton wick, this candle is not only safe to burn but actually helps clean the air in your home. Beeswax emits negative ions when burned which reduces the amount of positive ions in the air. Positive ions are emitted from electrical devices, heating and cooling systems, scented candles, and smoke. Beeswax candles also emit a natural and subtle sweet smell without any added fragrance.

Bee Organic 100% Beeswax Healthy Candle Alternative

Bee Organic 100% Beeswax Candle $20.99

2. Diffuse Essential Oils:

Aside from the health benefits many essential oils offer, they smell fantastic when diffused indoors. Essential oils promote good mental and physical health and won't leave the air in your home full of toxins. Try diffusing lavender for a relaxing atmosphere and citrus for a more energizing scent.

Wonderful Scents Essential Oil Diffuser Healthy Candle Alternative

Wonderful Scents Essential Oil Diffuser $34.63

3. Soy Based Candles:

Soy based candles can be a good alternative to scented candles. Soy wax burns at a lower temperature than paraffin which helps it last hours longer, giving you more bang for your buck. Beware of soy based candles that also contain artificial scents and paraffin. Look for 100% percent soy and make sure any scents are free of artificial dyes and chemicals.

AIRA 100% Soy Wax Healthy Candle Alternative

AIRA 100% Soy Wax Candle $24.99

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