What would you do if you find out lighting candles for aromatherapy has health effects from cancer to respiratory diseases? The first reaction would be to dump all your scented candles and never use them again. This is exactly what happened when a surge of articles “exposing” scented candles as unsafe and unhealthy with serious health risks. However, studies find otherwise.
Until now, many people still believe candle wicks and waxes are unsafe. For instance, many are hypervigilant about wicks and the possibility of them containing harmful chemicals like lead. These are, indeed, scary facts as inhaling little pieces of lead can result to poisoning. Lead poisoning can lead to brain damage, seizures, and more.
Another claim is that paraffin wax, which is a byproduct of petroleum, emits soot that is carcinogenic and can then lead to respiratory problems. But how real are these claims and why are we still using scented candles until now? In this article, we’re debunking candle toxicity myths and how to stay safe while you enjoy your favourite scented candles.
Can pleasant smelling candles really have adverse effects on your health? It would be unfortunate if aromatherapeutic home fragrances can do more harm than good. But thankfully, many of these claims are false or out of proportion.
If you're worried about your wicks containing lead, these poisonous chemicals have been banned in Australia since 2003. This means that any candle you purchased after 2003 will surely be lead-free, as long as you buy them from reputable shops. Unfortunately, if you have some old candles lying around in your attic, you might have to throw them away or check for lead.
To check for lead in wicks, all you need to do is rub a piece of white paper on an unused wick and check for a gray mark, similar to a pencil’s. If it leaves a mark, this means that it has lead and can have harmful effects to your health.
Royal Essence’s jewellery candles have cotton wicks that are all lead-free so you don’t have to worry about lead poisoning and the health risks that come with it.
As for the case of paraffin, a study in 2014 found that chemicals known to cause cancer, such as benzene and formaldehyde, are present in very little amounts. The good news is that this concentration is too low to cause any known health risk to an average and high use of scented candles.
They found that while these chemicals’ peak was at around four hours of burning, they are less than half than the WHO recommendation even in small places like bathrooms. With that said, paraffin wax is generally safe to light if you have any paraffin candles!
According to respiratory toxicologist Nikaeta Sadekar in an interview with New York Times, chemical emissions by scented candles are “so low that they pose no significant risk to human health, even the highest users of scented candles and other fragranced products are not putting themselves at any appreciable risk of harm.”
Even with this information, Royal Essence has chosen to use a natural soy wax as it is more eco-friendly and produces less soot. Soot is also known to emit carcinogens so it is important that we minimise this risk as well.
While even the candle enthusiasts and connoisseurs don’t have to worry about having toxic indoor air quality, it is completely understandable to still want to take extra precautions when it comes to lighting candles. Aside from preventing house fires, general safety tips also protect you from inhaling soot or lessening air quality.
These safety precautions include trimming the wick into ¼ inches every time you burn your candle, ensuring you are lighting candles in well-ventilated areas, and burning your candle for only up to five hours.