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Candles and Your Indoor Air

Posted on February 07, 2013
by Wendy Stackhouse
Photo by GlynnAnn via stock.xchng

Smells are evocative and a great way to trigger feelings of relaxation and happiness through association. Cinnamon can bring back warm holiday memories, floral scents can bring spring energy. Even the scent of your childhood bubble bath can make you smile.

But these experiences can come with a price: volatile organic compounds in your indoor air.

We should probably be asking candle manufacturers to list their ingredients as we do the makers of food and cleaning products. After all, we are ingesting these chemicals one way or another. Here is a list of some of the toxic ingredients that can be found in candles:

  • Paraffin–a waste product from refined petroleum, paraffin gives off carcinogenic chemicals when burned as well as soot similar to that found in diesel exhaust.
  • Lead–although banned in the US for use in candle wicks in 2003, lead can still be found in the wicks of scented candles made in China. There isn’t even a ban in place in Canada.
  • Acetone
  • Trichlorofluoromethane
  • Carbon Disulfide
  • 2-Butanone
  • Trichloroethane
  • Trichloroethene
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Tetrachloroethene
  • Chlorobenzene
  • Ethylbenzene
  • Styrene
  • Xylene
  • Phenol
  • Cresol
  • Cyclopentene

And you thought it was just beeswax!

There are healthier alternatives to candles made with these types of ingredients, beeswax being the safest. If you want your home to have those lovely evocative smells, consider essential oil rings or potpourri. But stay away from the vanilla candles from the 99 Cents store–they are not worth the risk!

Great thanks to for their list of toxins found in candles.

Wendy Stackhouse has been the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental services, since October of 2011. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!

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