Are Candles Toxic? Answers You Need To Know Now

Are Candles Toxic? Answers You Need To Know Now

Are Scented Candles Toxic or Non-Toxic? Who’s Telling The Truth?

There’s something special about the beautiful aesthetic and relaxing aroma of scented candles. They can transport you to places around the world and create, for you, experiences that go beyond your imagination.

You can enjoy a calm ambiance in your home with the soothing flicker of light that seems to relax and soothe you as the fragrance captivates you.

But there’s one issue that bombards the scented candle industry, that is…

Are scented candles toxic?

With the popularity of scented candles continuing to rise and health concerns soaring even higher, are scented candles really dangerous?

Let’s take an unbiased look.

Unbiased Look at Scented Candles on Toxicity Issues

Countless debates about scented candles show opposing sides as to whether or not these candles are truly toxic. Many sources put their card on the table, trying to prove that their scented candle claim is true and verifiable. But in the scope of things, it’s really important that you know the facts and truths about scented candle so that you have a clear take on whether the candles you love so much are truly dangerous to your health.

So, let’s check out what researchers say.

Are scented candles really toxic?

South Carolina State University researchers conducted an experiment that includes vegetable-based and petroleum-based paraffin wax candles. According to the 2009 report, there is a possibility that paraffin wax candles do contain pollutants that could potentially harm those who inhaled the scent, and the symptoms may develop over time.

According to Ruhullah Massouidi, a chemistry professor at the South Carolina State University, paraffin candles “released unwanted chemicals” that are diffused in the air. Massouidi continued that the inhalation of the scented candle’s hazardous pollutants that drift in the air could contribute to various health risks such as asthma, common allergies, and even cancer. It could happen when you frequently use scented candles or light them every day for several years.


candle burning


More Claims of Candle Toxicity

There are other claims that scented candles, especially paraffin wax candles, have health-threatening properties particularly the scent itself. Anne Steinemann, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Melbourne, environmental pollutant expert, and chair of sustainable cities, reiterated that certain candle types emit different types of harmful chemicals including toluene and benzene.

These chemicals are strong and hazardous enough to damage the central nervous system, lungs, and brain while causing developmental disorders.

Steinemann added that there are quite a number of cases of asthma attacks attributed to patients entering a store that sells scented candles. She reiterated that these respiratory attacks due to scented candles even show that the candles are not even burned at the time. However, they still emit a strong and pungent odor that could trigger asthma and other respiratory problems. The emission of strong fragrance from the scented candles even causes people to have migraine attacks.


The Toxic Case of Paraffin Candles

Paraffin is a by-product of the combination of oil refineries and gas. The nasty chemical could be quite dangerous especially if you breathe the fume from the candles on a regular basis. There are experts that would even compare paraffin candle fumes to the exhaust that a diesel engine would emit in the air. Looking into such comparison, it is quite natural to conclude that the chemicals included in the paraffin wax candle production are downright health threatening.

The National Candle Association Statement on Candle Toxicity

Unnecessary and oftentimes unfounded concerns regarding scented candles prompt candle makers and organizations to finally take a stand against these malicious misconceptions. The National Candle Association responded to the claims of television doctors that put scented candles in a bad light. Trust Me I’m a Doctor and the Dr. Oz Show are two of the television programs that made statistically insignificant experiments, claiming that scented candles are chemically dangerous.

The National Candle Association claims that the TV programs as well as other media sources alarm consumers with the sensational statement that scented candles have dangerous chemicals when in fact, the compounds are environmentally present and in a harmless and low level. The association further claims that the conclusions are solely the personal view of the show hosts and journalists, lacking observational scientific data, which should be the basis of the TV stories.


3 candles burning 2 red 1 yellow


Candles are Safe – NCA

The official statement of the National Candle Association is that candles are generally safe especially when used properly. Candle safety is applicable on both scented and unscented variations, therefore, including paraffin wax candles, contrary to claims.

The Root of Unfounded Toxicity Allegations

The NCA pointed out that an uncontrolled experiment that the BBC2 TV program, Trust Me I’m a Doctor, is where the controversial statement about candle toxicity came from. The so-called experiment aims to gauge the level of volatile organic compounds or VOCs in homes. Dr. Alastair Lewis provided the equipment and measurement information to the show. However, the University of York professor and National Centre for Atmospheric Science researcher did not provide the interpretation of the findings to the TV program.

Dr. Lewis released a statement saying that he did not provide any scientific interpretation to the BBC experiment and that no source-specific measurements are not available to make the identification of the exact compound sources. The experiment claimed that the scented candles contain an exceptionally high amount of limonene. However, Dr. Lewis insisted that different consumer products might have contributed to such compound level.

On Scent Toxicity

The National Candle Association cleared the air as to the toxicity issues attributed to the scents or fragrances of scented candles. Consumers need to know that properly burned and well-made candles, regardless of their scent, will safely and cleanly burn. The association emphasizes that no approved fragrances for scented candle usage emit toxic chemicals, whether they are natural or synthesized.

Debunking the Scented Candle Toxicity Claims

The NCA provided proofs from validated scientific studies, showing that major candle waxes display the same fundamental burn properties and behavior. Furthermore, scented candles produce the same combustion byproducts in terms of amount and composition. Moreover, it is important to note that collected and analyzed scientific studies show that candle wax emission are safe to human health, including petroleum-based paraffin.

The candle industry strictly conducts safety and health studies including all the materials that are used for candle production. Such testing for candle safety includes dermatological and toxicological scrutiny and evaluation.

Now that you've heard both sides, where do you stand? Comment below to share your opinion on the toxicity of candles. We want to know your thoughts.

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