As the holiday season draws near, many of us will be looking for ways to add a little warmth and light to our homes. Candles are one way we can do that. However, not all candles are created equal.
Some may contain lead or other harmful substances that could pose risks to your health when burnt nearby. So how do you know which candles are safe? And what should you look for when buying them? Read on to find out!
Which Candles are Safe for Your Health?
Soy, Paraffin, and Beeswax
Candles made with 100% GMO-free (genetically modified organisms), soy wax is the best. Soy wax is clean-burning and won’t leave your home or lungs clogged with dangerous pollutants, deadly smoke, or stains your walls or ceilings with black soot.
Burning paraffin wax can release a toxic mixture of chemicals into the atmosphere, including benzene (cancer-causing chemicals) and toluene.
Studies have shown that breathing in these harmful pollutants can lead to health problems such as cancer, common allergies, and even asthma.
Benefits of soy candles
Soy is a naturally occurring plant. Candles made from soy wax are made with oil from soybeans. Soy wax’s beauty is not limited to its clean burn. You can find out why your candles aren’t burning here.
- Paraffin wax candles can last up to half the time, while soy wax candles will burn twice as long. They will last longer than paraffin wax candles, even though they are more expensive.
- They also burn evenly, so there is no mushrooming effect like cheaper paraffin wax candles.
- Soy wax candles release their fragrances easier, which makes them more powerful.
- They require less heat to burn than paraffin, so they are safer.
Be on the lookout for soy blend candles. These candles will likely contain some soy and some paraffin wax. Instead, look for candles that are 100% soy. You can check the manufacturer’s website if you have any doubts. If not, do not buy that brand.
One quick note about beeswax: Some soy candles contain beeswax, and Beeswax, a natural substance, burns just as well as soy wax. If you are a vegan and avoid all animal products, stick with 100% soybean wax.
Soy candles are better for you, your family, and even your furry friends, as they are less polluting and made of renewable, plant-based materials.
Avoiding candles containing fragrance is one of the best ways to vet candles. Here are the reasons.
Each ingredient will be listed on a product’s ingredient label most of the time. However, U.S. regulations classify complex mixtures of multiple natural and synthetic chemical components as “fragrance.”
Fair Packaging and Labeling Act does not allow companies to force them to disclose “trade secrets.”
That’s okay because complex mixtures can have thousands of components, including allergens and VOCs. These fragranced products can have adverse effects on the general population’s health.
Candles that only contain essential oils are recommended. This is when oils are extracted from whole plants and/or plant parts. Transparent distributors and manufacturers will always be able to provide information about the process of oil extraction (steam distillation, CO2 extraction, absolute, etc.). The country from which the plant material was sourced to make the oil.
It is also necessary to decode the wick labels before choosing a clean candle. These are some terms that people might be confused about.
- Terms such as “Lead-Free Wick.”
This means that the wick is not made of lead. However, it’s a kind of greenwashing tactic since the Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned manufacturing, importing, and selling candles with lead-wick wicks, effective October 2003.
- Terms such as “Natural Cotton Wick.”
The term “Natural cotton Wick” refers to wicks made of cotton, but unless it does not say “unbleached,” the wick has been chemically bleached.
The No-Lead test
These steps will help you determine if a candle contains a lead-wick.
- When shopping for candles, look for “lead-free.”
- You can rub the wick off a candle that is still unburned. If the wick leaves a gray trace, similar to a pencil mark, it contains a lead core. Return the candle to the store if you have already bought it. Tell the manager why you want a refund.
- It would help if you threw out any metal cores from candles that have been burnt. Look at the tip to see if there is a metal core. If it isn’t apparent, you can always peel off some cotton.
Artificial Dyes and Fragrances
When a candle is scented or dyed with artificial fragrances or dyes, it releases toxic chemicals.
Synthetic fragrances can cause hormone disruption, skin, eye, and nose irritation, and damage the liver and kidneys.
Candles that contain natural essential oils or fragrances (in safe concentrations) should be considered. You can get the same aromatherapy benefits from organic oils as scented candles and even make your scents.
Even though essential oils are non-toxic, they can be very potent. You should research the best ways to use essential oils and the precautions you need to take. Pregnant women should not use essential oils. First, consult a qualified aromatherapist.
Candles that are safe to use
Instead of buying tons of candles with artificial fragrances and paraffin-based tealights, instead consider candles made from GMO-free soy, and it will be a blessing for your body and the planet.
Carole Brooks has been making candles for many years. She loves to create candles of all different types and for all different purposes. Here she shares her experience and knowledge. Carole is a graduate of Texas A&M University.
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