Are Candles Bad for You?
Candles were around as early as 500 B.C. How crazy that candles have existed for so long? Of course, back then candles were used for lighting instead of pure enjoyment.
Despite how long they’ve been around, suddenly candles have gotten a bad reputation for being toxic. I’ve heard so many people just like you ask the question, “Are candles bad for you?”
Candles aren’t made like they used to be, so I guess it comes as no surprise! It’s time to tell the truth about how candles are made today and whether or not they’re toxic to us. Let’s squash those rumors that have circulating for *way* too long...
Are Candles Bad for You?
No two candles are created equally! So, my answer to your question is yes and no. Here’s why: paraffin wax candles made with low-grade artificial fragrances create a different risk to your health than a clean candle made from soy wax with natural and premium fragrances.
Lower quality candles are bad for you and can be toxic. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to invest more in high-quality candles. They’re better for your health, they often burn longer, and they’re typically made from premium, environmentally friendly sources. Making your splurge well worth it!
To better understand how candles can be toxic, let’s cover the three main components of a candle: the wax, wick, and scent.
The majority of candles today are made from paraffin wax, which is made from petroleum. It’s the most popular because it’s the cheapest option, but that definitely doesn’t make it the best option! In fact, I recommend steering clear. Burning paraffin candles releases toxins into the air that could cause a variety of health problems, like allergies and asthma.
On the bright side, a study by South Carolina State University found that the soy wax candles didn’t produce the toxins that paraffin candles did. Lead researcher Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi, a chemistry professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences said, “The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air. For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma.”
Making the switch to soy candles is an easy way to avoid any potential side effects of breathing in toxins from paraffin wax!
Cotton, lead-free, nickel-free wicks make the healthiest, best option for your candles! (Hint: that’s what we use here at Nellamoon.) Believe it or not, candle wicks previously contained lead, because it helped the wick stand up straight and burn better. Unfortunately, that also meant that in the process of burning your candle, you were vaporizing lead into the air and inhaling it! Thankfully, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of lead wicks in 2003.
Because of this ban, when you’re asking yourself “Are candles bad for you?,” you don’t have to worry too much about the wick! If you have any doubt about whether your candle wick contains lead (which it shouldn’t), here’s an easy hack to tell: Take a blank piece of white paper and rub it on the tip of your unused candle wick. If the paper has a grey, pencil-like mark left on it, the wick contains lead. If the paper doesn’t have a mark, you can rest assured the wick is lead-free!
“Fragrance” tends to be a mysterious term — in the beauty industry and the candle industry. Companies aren’t required to share where their scents come from, leaving a lot to the imagination.
What I can tell you is this: Synthetic scents typically contain phthalates. Without getting too science-y, phthalates are a large group of chemicals used to make plastic more sturdy and durable. Phthalates are also extremely common in fragrances, cosmetics, candles, personal-care products, and more. Research links phthalates to neurodevelopmental and behavioral issues, asthma, allergies, altered reproductive development, and problems with male fertility.
That’s why it’s so, so important to look for phthalate-free candles. The health concerns with phthalates are so great the Center for Disease Control and Consumer Product Safety Commission have taken notice and taken action.
Which Candles Are Safe for Your Health?
So, yes! Candles can be bad for you and your health… but they’re not all bad.
It’s because of the conventional candle concerns and our concern for your wellbeing that we at Nellamoon take such great care to bring you only the best-of-the-best candles. You deserve to burn your candles with joy — and not have to worry about what it means for your health.
With all that being said, I recommend choosing a soy-wax candle made with premium essential and fragrance oils.
When shopping for the highest-quality candle, look for terms like:
- Free of phthalates, dyes, and irritants
- Cotton, lead-free, nickel-free wick
- 100% non-GMO, USA-grown, all-natural soy wax
So you can enjoy the candle-lit ambiance in your home — without the stress.
Because soy wax is derived from plants and made entirely by the earth, we reduce our pollution and the release of toxins by choosing soy candles. Not only is soy wax better for your health because it burns cleaner than paraffin wax, it also burns longer.
That means a happier body, happier planet, happier you!
Other Helpful Tips
Believe it or not, candles require a little TLC. To make the most of your premium-quality candles and enjoy the best experience:
- Place your candle in a room with calm air (no draft!)
- Trim the wick to 10 to 15 mm (the best length for *most* candles)
- Don’t blow out the candle! Use a tool called a candle snuffer, which you can easily find on Amazon.
Lighting a candle is meant to be a serene and relaxing experience. There are actually so many benefits to burning candles! Candles can help with your sleep, boost your mood, and transform the ambiance of your home. To ease your concerns and rest easily while you burn your favorite scent, opt for quality candles made from soy wax and premium fragrances. Some of my favorites are the Mermaid candle, Nashville, and our Haven candle.