Many commercial products designed to provide olfactory pleasure contain some of the highest levels toxins. This applies to both scented air fresheners as well as candles.
Even the ones you think are natural or green contain noxious pollutants.
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Hanyang University published a study on scented candles (1).
The team examined six scents to determine whether the amount of toxins varied with fragrance. Scented candles, whether lit or not, contain numerous compounds considered to be volatile. These chemicals are referred to as VOCs.
Formaldehyde was found to be the highest concentration of any VOC emitted from a lit candle.
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Formaldehyde is listed as being a hazardous compound and its vapors are considered highly toxic (2).
The highest concentrations of formaldehyde emitted from these particular candles was documented as:
- 2098 ppb from strawberry
- 1022 ppb from clean cotton
- 925 ppb from plain
A compendium released by the CDC states that, “acute and chronic health effects of formaldehyde vary depending on the individual. The typical threshold for development of acute symptoms due to inhaled formaldehyde is 800 ppb; however, sensitive individuals have reported symptoms at formaldehyde levels around 100 ppb.”
The CDC has warnings and recommendations for formaldehyde exposure in the home. Reading results of 1,000 ppb or more is considered to be high and dangerous.
Home owners are urged to immediately take steps to reduce exposure, particularly for homes where asthmatic suffers, elders, and/or young children reside.
Most symptoms associated with exposure resemble those similar to allergen reactions, especially in individuals with preexisting breathing disorders (3). Short-term Exposure can cause(4):
- Watery and Burning Eyes
- Burning in Throat and Nose
- Nausea and/or Vomiting
- Wheezing and/or Coughing
- Burning Skin and/or Irritation
The EPA reported that long-term exposure to formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer within the nasal passage.
Several other entities have published findings of the potential carcinogenic actions of this compound as well (5). These same studies discovered probable links of formaldehyde specifically to Leukemia.
It has also been proven that exposure can cause toxicity resulting in negative effects to reproductive organs and fetal development.
Formaldehyde exposure can lead to cognitive impairment in humans and is thought to be one cause of certain types of dementia (6).
There are several alternative options for those who want to detoxify their homes from scented candles.
It is not necessary to burn these candles to make the home smell pleasant or even to rid it of cooking and/or pet odors.
Essential oils have been used for hundreds of years in homemaking as well as medicine.
Diffusers are a popular choice for adding wonderful smells to the home environment and are a lot safer than scented candles.
Scents can be prepared ahead of time.
Pour an organic carrier oil into a clean, glass, sealable container. Organic olive, almond, and hemp seed oils are all examples of great carriers. Add approximately 1 to 2 drops of essential oil for every tablespoon of the carrier. Shake contents before pouring into the diffuser.
A safe room freshening spray can be created quite easily.
Choose an organic essential oil scent and add 10 drops of it to 4 ounces of water. Shake the container before spraying the formula.
Nature’s Simmering Potpourri
One truly awesome idea for those going green and detoxifying their lives is in the realm of upcycling or, at least, recycling.
It requires the use fruit peels and certain herbs and spices.
You can also add a few drops of organic essential cinnamon.
If You Need Candles For Black Outs, Use These
For those individuals who enjoy burning candles or require them for frequent black outs, pure, organic, beeswax is an excellent option.
Pillar candles made of pure, organic beeswax which are 3 x 5 inches burn for 115 hours each.
They do not drip, have a light honey scent, and burn a beautiful clean flame.
Beeswax candles naturally produce negative ions while burning which noticeably reduce allergens in the environment.