HOW to choose candles that are safe for you, your family, your home.
Scented Candles can calm us, invigorate us, and elicit memories.
They can empower us with the sense of possibility that a good mood can bring.
Using scented candles can be positive for our wellness and health.
A very SIMPLE self care tool.
Lighting a candle each mealtime can be a very nice calming ritual for you/your family.
Here is one reason why lighting scented candles is a good self care idea.
“…fragrances directly and/or indirectly affect the psychological and physiological conditions of humans.” (1)
The study goes on to share fragrances have been shown to provide positive psychological and physiological benefits for our entire family.
How we choose candles:
It has been researched and documented that fragrance is how most of us chose our candles.
The National Candle Association reports that:
“by far the most important characteristic that impacts candle purchases is fragrance.” (2)
The TYPE of fragrance our candles have is very important. A synthetic fragrance can harm us.
Two other very important considerations are:
All 3 can put toxins into the air we breathe.
Starting with the fragrance.
The downfall of using scented candles is that our man-made synthetic scents and even ‘natural’ materials emit compounds called VOCs.
VOCs are gases released into the air from products like candles or processes like burning candle wicks and the candle material (typically paraffin) itself.(3)
It is important to know:
“Scented candles are potent sources of VOC emission. The VOCs emit even if the candles are not lit.” (4)
We inhale the air in our homes into our noses. This is how we bring oxygen into our bodies. We need a lot of oxygen to fuel all of our cells.
There can be a downside to this ease of air going into our bodies. The downside is-
“We cannot escape VOC’s that are lingering in our home’s air.“
(1) (6) (7) (8)
If there is one thing we do A LOT— it is breathe!
An adult averages approximately 10,000 liters of air every day.(9)
The air you breathe in passes by your Olfactory Nerves transmitting nerve impulses of odors in the air to your olfactory bulb.
The olfactory bulb “sends information to the other areas of your body.
“The odors take a direct route to the regions of your brain that are related to emotion and memory”. (2)
Your central nervous system responds to pleasant smells with a positive mood boost. (or in other cases outside of the scented candle example the ‘scent messaging’ may protect us by letting us know something is wrong- Sour milk? Something burning?)
How cool is that!
What an amazing body mechanism!
What we smell impacts our entire body! Our emotions, our memories!
To safeguard this amazing sense we need to pay attention to what we place into our home’s air.
Related video: How Scent can be a Simple Self Care Tool
Let’s run through a quick list of where your inhaled air goes next.
The air you breathe in:
We can protect our entire body by protecting our air!
“When we use scented candles, the harmful small particles, gases, the VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) are given off, even when unlit they enter our body along with each breath.” (4)
☀️ This actually applies to many items in your home that emit VOC’s.
Laundry detergents, static clings, scented gels, air fresheners. To name just a few.
Chronic exposure to VOCs (even ones you cannot smell) can slowly damage wellness and health. These days we have multiple sources in our homes.
The awareness that materials we have in our homes and the products we bring into our homes can impact what’s in the air we breathe can be applied throughout your house.
To eliminate exposing ourselves and our family to compounds that can:
By swapping out the typical scented candle for one that improves our air quality we keep the good and get rid of the bad.
Swapping out the typical scented candle means the air we breathe in will get us the oxygen we need without causing damage.
Over time our goal is to have indoor air as free from VOCs as possible.
This way the air that travels into our nose can positively impact our:
The air moving through our bloodstream providing our cells with the oxygen needed to live will not be toxic.
Our lungs and our brain are very important to protect. As is our immune system.
If we use candles that emit VOCs our immune system gets called upon. Its response is to generate inflammation.
This inflammation is to protect us.
Our body increases inflammation in an attempt to expel the toxins we breathe in and circulate.
Inflammation is a core way our body works to protect us.
An example of VOC-induced chronic inflammation is Asthma.
Our body tries to protect us from anything foreign. Virus, bacteria, VOCs….with temporary inflammatory response. Chronic VOC exposure creates chronic inflammation.
The bronchial tubes are just one example.
“ some VOC’s are trapped by the kidneys, heart, brain, and bones, or are neutralized by our immune system, which attacks foreign bodies and stores them in immune cells….it has recently been observed that some of these pollutants do reach the placenta and the foetus, and can even penetrate our brains…..once they have penetrated our organs, it appears that these foreign bodies cannot be eliminated. This means that they accumulate, creating a chronic and continuous low-level inflammation that has a negative impact on our health.” (color & bold added) (11)
Knowing how the scented candles in my home could negatively impact my body and the health of my family I researched what Simple Straightforward Solution could be made.
The 3 swaps I made are listed below.
The Essential Health Focused Action we can take to protect ourselves, our family, our home:
🎯 Swap out toxic candles for non-toxic candles.
With these 3 swaps, we can continue the psychological and physiological benefits scented candles offer without the dangers.
Here’s how to keep the good & snuff out the bad.
Choose candles that use these 3 materials.
(see what I did there- snuff out the bad😂)
Fact: Lead wicks have been banned in many Countries and since 2003 in the US. as well.
Debate: Are the other wicks safe?
Alternative wicks listed by the CDC include zinc, hemp, multiple other synthetic fibers, paper and cotton.
My Suggestion: Cotton
Fact: The most common material is paraffin. When burned it gives off harmful fumes (toluene and benzene) both linked to asthma and cancer 3
Debate: Is the amount of toxin really too harmful?
Other Materials Vegetable Bases and Beeswax.
My Suggestion: 100% Beeswax
Fact. Scented Candles emit VOC’s whether they are lit or not!
Debate: Is the amount of toxin too harmful? Do ‘Natural’ and all Synthetic Scents emit VOC’s?
Alternative? Organic Essential Oils & the Natural Scent of a 100% Beeswax.
My Suggestion: Organic Essential Oils & Beeswax
Wrapping it up below is today’s ☀️ Simple Self Care Lifestyle tip
– Todays take away points.
– 4 🔗 links to places I’ve purchased non-toxic candles from.
– A few things I learned along the way about candles. Labeling can be tricky and misleading.😕
– 1 ▶️ Youtube video sharing HOW SCENT works to provide us Simple Self Care.
– What we place in the air of our homes enters and impacts our body.
– A core way our body works to protect us from VOCs is inflammation.
– A core way our body goes awry is when the chronic exposure sets our body into chronic inflammation and it starts destroying our tissues instead of protecting them.
Choosing Non-toxic, Safe Scented Candles enables us to reap the psychological and physiological benefits Candles offer. The wick, materials, and scent type we choose can protect ourselves, our family, and our homes.
4 Links 🔗 for you
I’ve used multiple ‘safe’ candle products over the past couple of decades.
Below are links to 4 companies for you. I hope having the links at your fingertips helps to ☀️ Simplify Your Self Care 🧡
Vermont Honey Lights 100% Beeswax, Cotton Wick. Many Sculpted decorative Options Link https://www.vermonthoneylights.com/ Watch their story video. They take such care and the video enables you to peek at the products in the shop. 🧡
Bee Hive Candles 100% Beeswax, Cotton Wick Scented Options https://www.beehivecandles.com/help/about-us/ Maple Falls WA. They give back, Care about the environment, Green building 🧡
Honey Candles Canadian Company 100% Beeswax, Cotton Wick Scented Options. They carry BIRTHDAY Candles, Actual NUMBER CANDLES, HANUKKAH & CHURCH CANDLES. Soft colors, scented tins, https://www.honeycandlesusa.com/ The variety of birthday and specific holiday candles is nice. 🧡
Alternative Imagination 🐝 (Amazon) Sustainably Sourced Beeswax – Working with ethical, local bee farms based in the United States. Single-origin beeswax, filtered using a chemical-free filtration system that leaves the beeswax with its naturally sweet, honey-like aroma, and beautiful yellow coloring. 🖐 Carefully Handcrafted -every candle poured by hand in small batches to ensure the highest possible quality.
A few things I’ve learned along the way.
ADDED NOTES of things I’ve learned along the way.
🔸 Pure Beeswax can be labeled with only 51% beeswax so be sure you know it’s 100% beeswax.
🔸 Beeswax can cost as much as six times more than paraffin which is why many candle manufacturers blend paraffin with their beeswax to cut costs. So again always confirm 100% beeswax.
🔸 As for the price the slow even burn has proven to me again and again that the higher quality candle is worth the extra price it lasts so much longer.
🔸 I opt not to use vegetable wax anymore. I have tried many, many over the years —even good vegetable wax candles may still end up burning faster emitting the soot
For me, Beeswax burns so much slower, more even, lasting longer plus I like that it is known to emit more negative ions.
This is why I’ve narrowed my candles down to 100 percent beeswax and not listed others.
‘Natural’ Fragrances can still emit VOCs. VOC encompasses a huge variety of both natural and man-made chemicals. Sticking to 100% Essential Oil is your best option and Simplifies my choices. My number 1 priority is protecting my cells and my family, 100% Scented Beeswax does the trick.
References for you:
- Sowndhararajan, Kandhasamy, and Songmun Kim. “Influence of Fragrances on Human Psychophysiological Activity: With Special Reference to Human Electroencephalographic Response.” Scientia pharmaceutica vol. 84,4 724-751. 29 Nov. 2016, doi:10.3390/scipharm84040724
- National Candle Association. 529 14th Street NW, Suite 1280 Washington, DC 20045 https://candles.org/candle-science/
- Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi (2009) Frequent use of certain candles produces unwanted chemicals. https://www.scsu.edu/news_article.aspx?news_id=832
- Ahn JH, Kim KH, Kim YH, Kim BW. Characterization of hazardous and odorous volatiles emitted from scented candles before lighting and when lit. J Hazard Mater. 2015 Apr 9;286:242-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2014.12.040. Epub 2014 Dec 31. PMID: 25588193.
- Otavio Ranzani (2020) How Does the Air We Breathe Affect Us?Environmental Health. https://www.isglobal.org/en/healthisglobal/-/custom-blog-portlet/com-ens-afecta-l-aire-que-respirem-/6113748/0
- Colleen Walsh (2020) ‘What the nose knows’ https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/02/how-scent-emotion-and-memory-are-intertwined-and-exploited/#:~:text=Smells%20are%20handled%20by%20the,related%20to%20emotion%20and%20memory.
- Wikipedia contributors. “Olfactory nerve.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 31 Aug. 2020. Web. 28 Sep. 2020.
- University of Toronto. “Scientists uncover new connection between smell and memory: Findings offer opportunities for improved smell tests in Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2018.
- Derudi M, Gelosa S, Sliepcevich A, Cattaneo A, Cavallo D, Rota R, Nano G. Emission of air pollutants from burning candles with different composition in indoor environments. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2014 Mar; 21(6):4320-30. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-2394-2. Epub 2013 Dec 7. PMID: 24318837.
- Wasson SJ, Guo Z, McBrian JA, Beach LO. Lead in candle emissions. Sci Total Environ. 2002 Sep 16;296(1-3):159-74. doi: 10.1016/s0048-9697(02)00072-4. PMID: 12398334. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12398334/
- Derudi M, Gelosa S, Sliepcevich A, Cattaneo A, Cavallo D, Rota R, Nano G. Emission of air pollutants from burning candles with different composition in indoor environments. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2014 Mar;21(6):4320-30. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-2394-2. Epub 2013 Dec 7. PMID: 24318837. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24318837/