Many things may come to mind when you think about lighting candles. Romance, love, intimacy, ambiance and…toxins? That’s right; candles may be emitting more than just a soft, warm glow when you fire them up.
What is in a Candle?
Scented candles may seem safe, but they are big source of indoor air pollution. They put chemicals into your air that are considered as dangerous as second-hand smoke. Paraffin, contained in candles, is a petroleum waste product that has to be deodorized and chemically bleached before it can be made into wax. Doesn’t seem so romantic now, does it?
Paraffin wax creates toxic benzene and toluene when burned, and both of them are known carcinogens. In actuality, the toxins released from paraffin wax candles are the same as those found in diesel fuel flames.
As if that wasn’t unsavory enough, many scented candles also have wicks that contain heavy metals such as lead and even a few hours of burn time can release heavy metals into your home’s air. The artificial scents and dyes can also release additional chemicals when burned.
Don’t let this ruin your love of candles, though. There are some great alternatives to scented candles that you may find you like better than the paraffin wax! Soy based candles are very popular and easy to find. There are also beeswax candles available. They’re not only safe for indoor use but may even benefit you further by aiding in the cleaning of indoor air. There is one caveat to buying beeswax, however. Often, beeswax is diluted with paraffin to cut costs for the manufacturer, so you’ll want to look for candles that say 100% beeswax.
Beeswax is actually really interesting because they emit negatively charged ions which help reduce positively charged ions in the air. Positive ions are generated by things like electrical devices, scented candles, walking across carpet and even though your heating and cooling system. You can’t avoid them, but they can carry everything from dust to pollen to toxic mold, so reducing them is important. Negatively charged ions bind together with positive ions and become heavy so they won’t be floating around in your air. All of that from beeswax is pretty cool.
Beeswax isn’t the only alternative. 100% vegetable-based waxes are available and a great non-toxic option. If you miss the scent of candles, then try diffusing essential oils to freshen indoor air, or use a ring burner that holds a few drops of essential oil that fits around your lightbulbs. The heat from the lightbulb diffuses the scent around your home.
To reduce the amount of soot any candle gives off, make sure to cute the wicks to one and quarter inch long, and don’t burn candles near a draft
Detoxing Indoor Air
There are other things that can help too. House plants are a great resource for cleaning indoor air. Just make sure you don’t overwater them and keep them healthy. Whatever you chose to do, remember that knowledge is power and now that you have the knowledge you won’t pollute your home with scented candles again.
Photo by unbekannt270 via Flickr CC License