Candles have been used for centuries for their calming and pleasant aroma. They are often used to create a cozy atmosphere, reduce stress, and enhance romantic engagements. But did you know that candles can actually have negative health effects? Let's dive into why candles can be toxic and what to look out for when choosing one.

Toxic Ingredients in Candles

One of the primary issues with candles is the wax they are made with. Most commercial candles are made with paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum products and contains carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene and toluene that are released into the air when burned. Additionally, paraffin wax has been found to contain trace amounts of heavy metals like lead which can be inhaled while burning.

Synthetic Fragrances

The second issue with candles is the fragrances they contain. While these fragrances may smell pleasant, they are often made from synthetic chemicals which can both irritate your lungs and disrupt hormones in your body when heated and inhaled. Candles can cause allergy and asthma symptoms such as: running nose, watery eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose, and tightness in your chest.  For me, different candles and fragrances are what trigger my headaches and migraines, as it does for many people.

About 95% of people with head issues say that they are sensitive to smells that either trigger or worsen their headaches.  This is called osmophobia.  Other smells can be car exhaust, cigarette smoke, and different perfume fragrances.  In the past if I purchase something I make sure it is unscented.  To make matters worse, many companies use phthalates to extend the life of their fragrances which have been linked to reproductive disorders and cancer.

I’ll share a funny or maybe not-so-funny story (at the time) about candles and fragrances... once when I was working in retail, like most retail stores, part of our job is unpacking boxes and putting up attractive displays.  When something new arrives we placed it in a prominent location to catch the customer's eye.  Well, little did I know that a certain fragrance (I still remember the name) would give me an instant reaction and headache.  My boss had to make a decision to either move the display far from where I worked or I’d have to go home.  

I also remember when I was really young, my mom, dad, and I went into a gift store, not in our area.  Dad instantly had a reaction and didn’t feel well and walked out of the store as quickly as he walked in.  He was always sensitive to strong fragrances like candles and perfumes.

Safer Candle Options

Fortunately, there are safer alternatives on the market today! Soy or beeswax candles are a much healthier option since they do not contain any petroleum-based ingredients or synthetic fragrances. Beeswax also naturally purifies the air by releasing negative ions that help cleanse it of pollutants like dust particles and pollen. Furthermore, some companies offer scented beeswax candles made with essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances so you can still enjoy your favorite aromas without any harmful effects! In our home, we like to diffuse essential oils as well. Not only does it make our house smell amazing, but it is super supportive and beneficial to our health.

In conclusion, it's important to be aware of how toxic regular store-bought candles can be due to their paraffin wax content and synthetic fragrances. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe alternatives on the market today such as soy or beeswax candles that don't contain any petroleum-based ingredients or synthetic fragrances! Make sure you only burn candles in a well-ventilated room.  Open a window while it’s burning, but keep the candle out of the draft. So next time you want to light up a candle for some relaxation or romance don't forget about these safer options available. If you are interested in adding a diffuser and essential oils to your home, please reach out to me, I'd be honored to help you get started so you get the most savings.


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