Healthy Air Technology
Are scented candles dangerous to indoor air quality?

Are scented candles dangerous to indoor air quality?

31 January 2024

Recent news articles questioning if scented candles are dangerous to indoor air quality have helped to highlight the importance of indoor air quality within our homes.

However, while scented candles can contribute to indoor air pollution, the degree of their danger depends on various factors.

What is in scented candles?

Many scented candles are made from paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum. When these candles burn, they release potentially harmful compounds into the air, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene and toluene.

 

Benzene – Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil and is one of the elementary petrochemicals used in the production of a wide range of chemicals, including plastics, resins, synthetic fibres, rubber, dyes, detergents, and pharmaceuticals. It is an important industrial chemical, but exposure to benzene is associated with health risks.

Toluene – Toluene is a colourless, aromatic liquid with a sweet, pungent smell. It is a hydrocarbon, specifically a benzene derivative. Toluene is widely used as a solvent in the production of paints, coatings, adhesives, and varnishes.

 

Other harmful chemicals:

  • Phthalates – used to enhance the longevity and dispersion of fragrances.
  • Acetone – solvent
  • Linalool and Limonene – Natural compounds found in essential oils that can be synthetically produced.

What are the health risks of scented candles?

These VOCs can contribute to indoor air pollution and may have negative health effects, particularly those with respiratory conditions, allergies, or asthma.

How dangerous are candles to indoor air pollution?

Dr Chunli Cao, CEO of Healthy Air Technology says: “Some scented candles contain quite dangerous chemicals, that otherwise come with warnings when used for commercial purposes.

“This fact is quite scary. Yet we continue to purchase candles that when burnt, release these harmful chemicals into our homes. How bad is the danger to us? Well, it depends on how long, how often and how many candles you burn and what else you have in your home that is contributing to the indoor air quality.

“Generally speaking, occasional use of scented candles is not going to cause serious respiratory symptoms. However, you should try to choose soy wax or beeswax candles with natural essential oils.”

What to look for in a scented candle

  1. Choose candles with alternative ingredients such as beeswax or soy.
  2. Look for non-toxic fragrances. Those using essential oils will be less harmful.
  3. Limit usage and avoid using for long periods of time.
  4. Consider alternatives like essential oil diffusers.
  5. As ever, make sure your space is well ventilated or use an air purifier to reduce the concentration of indoor air pollutants.

 

Photo by Lisa Fotios: https://www.pexels.com/photo/macro-shot-photography-of-tea-candles-1652109/

 


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