Candles are a much-loved part of home décor in many households. They provide so much joy and comfort because they can evoke the senses so well. A flickering flame brings warmth and light on darker nights. Their colors look beautiful in the right setting, especially with other decorations or lanterns.
Many also smell great, thanks to the efforts of innovative designers of scented candles. Homeowners can find a candle in pretty much any scent, color or shape that they desire this day.
However, not all candles are made the same and some may have unpleasant consequences. So what is it with mass-produced candles that may affect us?
Consumers Are Ditching Old Scented Candles
Growing fears over the health implications and toxic dangers of scented candles have provoked a rethink over this design trend. Many people light candles regularly, unaware of what they are potentially breathing in.
The solution here is to use natural candles and get rid of the dangerous chemical ones. Here are some of the top dangers of common candles and the benefits of natural alternatives.
The phrase non-toxic candles may sound alarmist, but some candles are that dangerous. There are many issues to contend with when dealing with a candle from an artificial source. This process of candle making requires lots of chemicals and treatments for designers to carefully mimic the scents that buyers love.
The aim here is to make sure that consumers can’t tell the difference between a fake flower and plant extracts and the real thing. However, many can tell as soon as they enter a candle shop and find themselves overwhelmed by the sensory experience. There are many reasons for this.
(Source: Naturally Keri)
The first problem here comes with the use of synthetic fragrances. Many people find that they can’t spend long in these environments because of the impact of the chemicals in those artificial fragrances. Some will find nausea, almost immediately, while others will deal with headaches and dizziness. This isn’t just the case in these candle shops with too many candles around.
Long-term exposure to artificial candles in the home can lead to similar effects. There is also the risk here that they will trigger asthma and other respiratory conditions. This could be disastrous for vulnerable children in the home.
In addition to damaging air quality with irritants, there is the greater risk of contributing to air pollution on a much wider scale. A recent EPA report on the risk of artificial candles noted that paraffin, contaminated oils, and other chemicals have a significant affect on air pollution. It is hard to believe that this comes from a simple candle. One that homeowners are more than happy to light and breath in within an enclosed, small room.
On the subject of paraffin, it is important to take a closer look at the type of wax used in these potentially toxic candles. The added danger of paraffin wax here is that it is potentially carcinogenic. This is because paraffin is a petrochemical byproduct with traces of benzene and toluene. This is the same chemical make-up as found in diesel fuel fumes. This has to lead consumers to wonder why we ever thought it was a good idea to put paraffin in candles in the first place.
The final issue with the make-up of these dangerous artificial candles is the use of metal. Again, some people may wonder why designers would use this material in these items of comfort. There are still many manufacturers to use metal for stability in the wick. The biggest problem comes with those containing lead.
Lead is highly toxic in high dosages. It caused problems in all kinds of industries in the past with the creation, and subsequent ban, of toxic household material. Companies removed it from paint and pencils that posed a risk to families and young children. This is because of proven links between lead and neurological problems, hormone issues, and reproductive problems. So why put lead in a candle that consumers will light and inhale?
But Aren’t Lead Wicks Banned?
This is an important point that many candle lovers will quickly point out. A ban did come into effect back in 2003 that said that there should be no lead in any candle wicks. This was due to fears over the dangers mentioned above. The problem is that this rule isn’t well regulated.
There are still many candle makers that will add lead to give some structure to the wick. Some say that any candle bought in recent years should be safe, but it is worth testing out a strong wick if there are any concerns.
It is simple enough for users to tell. They can simply rub the end of the wick onto a piece of paper and look at the residue and color of the mark. Grey marks indicate a metal core. It may not be lead, but it could still be dangerous. Where possible, it is best to go for a completely natural wick.
The solution is to find some appealing non-toxic candles that offer the same experience with fewer dangers.
The answer here isn’t to ditch the scented candles altogether. The right type can provide a great scent and feel of a living room or guest room. Instead, consumers need to look for the right type of natural product.
Many companies specialize in natural candles with the best alternative materials. These candles are highly appealing to buyers because of their reliable source, lack of dangerous emissions and comparable quality. It all comes down to great substitutes for those three dangerous components – the fragrance, the wax and the wick.
Candle fragrances don’t have to come from chemical sources to offer a pleasing aroma. In fact, natural options are often more appealing because they are true, subtle and less likely to leave users with nausea, dizzy spells or headaches. These natural sources come straight from essential oils and plant extracts, much like the oils and scents added to baths and toiletries. They don’t have the in-your-face power of artificial ones, but they are better for it.
Then there are the different types of wax.
As was apparent with the issues with the use of paraffin in wax, many candle buyers have little idea where their candles come from. Wax is simply wax. However, there are many types of natural wax for non-toxic candles. This means great choice for manufacturers. The most common choices here are soy, coconut, vegetable oil and beeswax. Each has its property and look, but all are free from those damaging chemicals.
Beeswax is often preferable to manufacturers and consumers because of additional health benefits. These natural candles emit negative ions into the local environment. These ions reduce concentrations of positively charged ions by clinging on and neutralizing them. This is important because these positive ions carry irritants such as dust, pollen, and toxic mold. Therefore, there is a simple choice here. A dangerous paraffin wax candle that emits fumes and makes conditions like asthma worse, or a beeswax one that actively reduces irritants of conditions like asthma.
When it comes to the wick, it is important to go back to that idea of the apparent ban on lead and the risk of metal wicks.
The best alternative here is to use a cotton or paper substitute that will burn with no risks from chemicals. One problem with this approach is a lack of structural stability, but it is worthwhile for the lack of chemicals. Paper and cotton are both perfectly safe when used correctly.
The biggest concern with these wicks is the soot produced. Soot from the burning wax is still an irritant, regardless of the chemicals. Users can reduce soot but keep the candles away from the draft and trim the wick.
Many retailers highlight some great examples of what is achievable in naturally scented candles.
Natural candles don’t have to be a compromise on the scented candles consumers expect. In fact, there are many retailers and specialist candle makers creating candles that are bolder, richer and more satisfying than artificial ones. Some keep it very simple, with natural looks and scents from pure sources. Others go bigger with deeply colored floral pieces with dried petals in them. As long as they are 100% natural and safe, anything goes.
On that note it is important that all consumers continue to check the labels of candles and all sales information – whether in a brick and mortar store or online. Honest, natural candle companies should have stickers and statements about the source of their wax, fragrances, and wicks. They should be upfront about everything included. Those that aren’t may have something to hide. Consumers should feel free to ask questions where there are any concerns and move on to another supplier if they are not convinced.
There are still some people that will choose to ditch these scented candles altogether.
In an ideal world, consumers would have a clear choice between the different types of candles available and would know precisely want they are buying. Some would go as far as saying that the government should just ban paraffin candles altogether. As things stand, it can be tricky to tell the difference when consumers aren’t in a specialist store. There are understandable concerns that those labels and ingredients list might not be as truthful as they make out.
A good example of this is with those beeswax candles. Beeswax is expensive. It sometimes costs as much as six times as much as paraffin. Therefore, some candle manufacturers will prefer to blend paraffin and beeswax as a cost-cutting measure. The only way to be sure that they are pure and natural is if they have 100% beeswax printed on the label.
The other concern for some eco-conscious buyers is the origin of the materials in the natural, non-toxic candles. The source of the soy for the candle is a big concern for those that worry over non-organic soy products. All consumers concerned by this issue, and unable to trace the source of the soy candles, should stick with beeswax and other natural wax candles.
What Solutions Are Available?
The rules and issues with labeling mean that some people will struggle with safe candle buying. There is a solution here that may help. Those that buy candles more for the scent than the look should consider other forms of aromatherapy within the home.
A scented candle by the bath can add a nice floral aroma that is relaxing but, the same effect comes with essential oils in a bath. Home diffuser systems are a great alternative for the living room or bedroom. A spray bottle with a mix of water and oil is a great spritz to liven up a room or spray on a pillow.
Glass bottles with natural reed send a steady stream of scent into the room for long periods. Some may prefer oil burners with a plate for an essential oil and a tealight beneath. This allows for the scent, but also the feeling of warmth with the flame.
It is best to embrace non-toxic candles and be smart with candle shopping.
It is clear that homeowners don’t have to ditch the candles completely when planning their cozy retreats and home décor. It is a great idea to throw out old, dangerous ones and boycott makers that use paraffin and lead. But, there is no need to give up on all scented candles in the process. There are different options here.
Most importantly, candle-lovers should take the time to search for a great supplier of natural candles. This means ones where there are 100% natural waxes and fragrances and no metal in sites. Those that are still wary can stick with the more basic beeswax tea lights or choose candle-free aromatherapy.
The most important thing is to avoid those noxious fumes, soot, and metal wicks as much as possible. This is the only way to be sure of a safe, enjoyable candle-burning experience.