Image: The Spruce
What you need to consider when burning your candles.
Often we associate burning candles with positive experiences, to relax, wind down, for romance, peace, focus, tranquility whatever it is. Its important not to ruin those positive experiences with allowing harmful chemicals into our homes and spaces. There are a number of different type of candles that you can burn:
The most common, versatile and affordable options BUT also the most harmful. If you are buying cheap candles/ tea candles it is most likely made with paraffin. If your candle is made from paraffin it is worth throwing it away.
Paraffin wax is a by product of the crude oil refinement process, meaning it is made from the parts of the oil that would be trashed and thrown away. That is why it has to be bleached with industrial strength bleach to give it the white colour (without it, it would stay in its black/grey state).
Paraffin wax is also known to release a number of chemicals into the air, two of them being carcinogens: benzene and toluene.
- after long term exposure can cause effects on bone marrow
- can decrease blood cells
- can have negative effect on the immune system
- Irritates the lining of airways
- Constant exposure can cause irritability, sleep disturbances, headaches
- irritates the eyes and nose
- can affect nervous + respiratory system
The harm that is associated with these candles lies in the fact that the majority of ‘soy’ is genetically modified. The soy seeds use in this process are GMO and sprayed + treated with a number of chemicals and pesticides. Another note to add is the standardized labeling of soy candles aren’t regulated, meaning any claim can be placed on the label without validation.
NOT VEGAN- if you are vegan this isn’t the choice for you. These candles are considered to be the most healthy/natural/pure option. Beeswax candles are associated with a number of positive benefits which include:
- Can help cleanse the air. It is composed of negatively charged ions which neutralizes the positively charged ions in pollutants and dust.
- Since it reduced pollutants it can help decrease if not diminish the effects of asthma and allergies.
It is important to keep in mind that you have 100% beeswax and not a product mixed with paraffin. If a label claims to be ‘pure’ that means it only has to contain 51% of the substance. Beeswax candles can be made up of 49% paraffin.
best, most healthy AND vegan alternative:
It is sustainable, natural, burns slow and clean and an amazing alternative to the conventional waxes we are used to. There are a number of companies that are starting to make their candles with coconut wax.
If you are in Canada, check out a Canadian coconut wax candle company Fenwick Candles
The problem with candles is not only in the types of waxes that are used. Many candles can be ruined by the harmful additives places in them such as fragrances and dyes for added colour and scent! Be skeptical of extremely fragrant candles, especially if they are unnatural scents, make sure you know the sources of your products. The wicks used for candles can at times be harmful too. Many wicks contain lead in them which get released into the atmosphere when lit.
Make sure when you are lighting your candles to set the right tone for your space its not being done by causing any harm!