The Business of Fashion claims that the candle market has risen by more than thirty percent over the last two years, and for good reason. Scented candles are comforting, great for setting the mood, and making your home smell down right delicious, but the dangers of scented paraffin candles might not be worth their mood-boosting qualities, as inhaling what they give off could be damaging to the lungs and more.
Perils of Paraffin
The majority of mainstream candles that are available for purchase are made from paraffin. Paraffin is made from petroleum waste that has been chemically bleached and deodorized. Once in candle form, and burning, paraffin releases carcinogens into the air, including benzene and toluene, which are also found in diesel fumes. Regular use of paraffin candles can aggravate existing conditions, such as allergies and asthma, and may also trigger new conditions or even cancer. In addition to the wax, candle wicks can also pose a problem. Despite regulations that are supposed to insure that candle wicks are made from harmless cotton or paper, as many as thirty percent of candles have wicks that contain lead and other heavy metals which are released into the air when burned.
Artificial Fragrance Fear
The soothing scents released by candles may be the most attractive thing about them, but there are an unfortunate amount of chemicals that are used to create those scents. Artificial fragrances exist not only in candles, but in many common household products, from shampoo to cleaning spray, and risks are present with the use of each of them. Just like paraffin wax, the scents are also made from petroleum, and release harmful chemicals alongside their intoxicating fragrances. These chemicals can cause allergic reactions, or even create hormonal disruptions that can lead to serious health effects including tumors and birth defects.
Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on candles entirely. Beeswax and soy candles are eco-friendly and safe alternatives to paraffin candles that will provide the same comforting and mood setting effects without the possible health problems. Some beeswax and soy candles are even scented with essential oils, instead of harmful chemicals, making them much safer to burn. Essential oils even have some therapeutic effects, and are especially effective in treating anxiety and depression.
The effects of using traditional scented candles are scary, but they don’t mean you have to write candles off completely. Simply switching to more conscious candle choices can save your health and limit your contribution to pollution.
Author: Lucy Wyndham