Whether you like vanilla, cinnamon, cranberry, linen, pine, or some out-there scent, candles are lovely, they smell good, and they can help transform the atmosphere of a space. For years, people have used candles for heat, light, scent, and even rituals. Today, candles are used for these reasons still, and they are used in 7 out of 10 households in the U.S.
Unfortunately, candles may harm your health, especially if you use them frequently. While they provide all those benefits listed above, some candles can negatively change the indoor air quality of your home.
Why Candles Are Harmful
According to studies, candles have the ability to produce chemical reactions, and when this happens, the candles release certain carcinogens including acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and acrolein — all in concentration levels that are higher than the air quality standards that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed safe.
These carcinogens can result in a variety of health conditions, such as skin irritation, respiratory reactions, asthma, allergies, headaches, and more.
In some cases, the chemicals that are found in certain candles can contribute to certain forms of cancer. For example, someone who uses paraffin candles every day — or just frequently — inhales dangerous chemicals like toluene, alkenes, and alkans, all of which are reported to result in negative effects to humans and can contribute to asthma, common allergies, and even cancer.
In addition to the invisible chemicals that the candles release, there is also the risk of soot forming (black smoke). You have probably seen soot form around the glass of the candles before, but it can also occur outside of the candle jar itself. For instance, it could potentially stain your ceiling, walls, and even upholstery in the home.
Research shows that candles with scent are more likely to produce soot than candles with no scent. While studies show that soot from candles is not necessarily harmful to your health, the soot may be able to get caught in your nostrils and create difficulty breathing — especially for babies — when candles are burned in small spaces.
What Steps Can You Take To Be Safer?
While never burning a candle again may be your best option, it isn’t realistic. If you don’t want to stop burning candles, we understand. However, you do want to make sure to protect yourself, your family, and your home while burning candles indoors.
So when burning candles from here on out, don’t burn candles in an unventilated room. To ensure that the harmful chemicals are able to dissipate, slightly open a window and keep the door open. Avoid burning candles for extended period of times; limit your candle-burning time to one or two hours a day.
Also, invest in a home air purifier. A home air purifier will help to extract many of the pollutants in the home air, which includes those that the candles produce when burning.
Then, to help reduce the amount of soot that candles produce, only purchase candles that have thin wicks. Before burning them, trim them to about ¼ inch.
Finally, purchase the right candles. While you may love those extravagant scents, they are not the best ones to have for your home health-wise. Natural candles, such as those that are made from beeswax or soy, don’t contain as many of those harmful chemicals that have been discussed here. Also, avoid purchasing candles that have a metal insert to hold the wick in place. You could also opt for electric.
If you are interested in having your home’s indoor air levels tested or would like to have a whole-home air purifier installed, contact the professionals at Custom Comfort Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling LLC today. It may be tough to cut back on candle use, but your health is the most important thing, and we are happy to help in any way we can.