Have you felt congested after lighting a candle in your house? Has your throat felt itchy after breathing in a scented candle? Are you curious if these effects are caused by candles or something else?
If you’re wondering, “Are candles bad for your health?”, then you’ve come to the right place. Here, you can learn everything you need to know about how candles affect indoor air quality. You can also discover a few ways to mitigate any negative effects of candles.
How Candles Affect Indoor Air Quality
Candles, especially scented candles, have become a fixture in many homes. You might have a few spread throughout your home right now. They’re great for setting a relaxing mood or creating ambiance when guests visit.
You might also like to burn a candle to cover up an unpleasant scent, like pet odor. Whatever the case, you can use candles for a variety of reasons, but they do affect air quality. If you’re particularly susceptible to poor air quality, you may have noticed.
So, why are candles bad? To start, when you burn anything, it will release smoke into the air. Smoke and soot can decrease your air quality by polluting it with toxins.
For example, if you burn a candle, you’re releasing carcinogenic toxins into the air. These toxins are harmful pollutants that can affect your health. When you breathe in these pollutants, it may exacerbate respiratory symptoms.
If you have bad allergies, your throat may start to itch after sitting in a room with a candle. You may feel your eyes puff up and itch, too. If you have a condition like asthma, poor air quality can aggravate it, making it difficult and even painful to breathe.
Aside from these negative health effects, the smoke from candles can also affect its surroundings. It can cause discoloration on walls and ceilings. If you’re lighting a candle in a room with white paint, for instance, you might want to think twice before it leaves behind black soot marks after prolonged use.
On top of this, the air pollutants can jam up any filters or ventilation you have running throughout your home. The damage won’t stay contained to one room in this case.
All this information should put the question of “Why are candles bad for you?” into context. Now, you can start to do something about it.
Should You Still Use Candles?
While you should feel concerned about using candles, you can take steps to minimize the consequences they have on air quality. For starters, you should only light a candle every now and then. If you have a habit of lighting candles every day, you should cut back and keep it to limited use instead.
Speaking of limited use, you should blow out the candle after about an hour. The longer it burns, the more toxins will release into the air, especially if the wax gets too low. You should wait to relight the candle until it has fully cooled, as well.
You also need to make sure the wick is the right size. Wick trimmers can help you maintain the appropriate height (about one-fourth of an inch).
A long wick will burn too much at the tip and send more smoke into the air. The right-sized wick will help the candle burn at an even level, too.
You should try to avoid oddly shaped candles. A tall, narrow container may look appealing, but it results in an unsteady airflow. This will affect the wick’s ability to burn without flickering, so you should only use squat, wide-brimmed containers or free-standing candles.
Above all, the best step you can take to minimize candle pollution is to ventilate. If you use a candle in a small, enclosed room, the toxins will have nowhere to go and pollute the room fast. However, if you light a candle in a large room with open windows or good ventilation, the toxins won’t sit in the air.
Instead, the pollutants will move around and get replaced by fresh air. That said, you should avoid having any direct drafts on the wick. A draft can cause uneven heating and more smoke to release.
Safer Alternatives to Candles
If you want to eliminate indoor air pollution from candles altogether, you can choose an aromatherapeutic alternative. For example, you can enjoy the scent of a candle all the same by using a candle warmer. Candle warmers use the heat of electricity to warm the candle wax with no flame.
This is a great way to get the scent of candles without having to worry about adding smoke to the air. You can also turn to essential oils and oil diffusers. Oil diffusers fill the air with whatever smell you want, and it’s all-natural.
Diffusers come in many different shapes and sizes, so you can get one that blends into your interior design. You can even get a diffuser that lights up and adds atmosphere to your surroundings, just like a candle would.
If you still want to use candles, you should look into air purifiers. Air purifiers also come in a range of sizes and strengths. If you invest in a carbon filter, it will remove odors from smoke and catch those harmful pollutants in your home.
You should also stay away from paraffin wax in candles. Soy and beeswax candles make excellent alternatives that will help keep your air cleaner than paraffin candles.
What to Do With the Answer to: Are Candles Bad?
Now that you know the answer to the question, “Are candles bad for air quality?”, you can start taking steps to clean your air. If you still choose to use candles, you should at least minimize the consequences as best you can. Otherwise, you should go with a safer alternative that will make your home smell great without impacting air quality.
If you would like to take additional steps to purify your air, take a look at these portable air purifiers. If you’re interested in ditching candles and trying essential oils and diffusers, then check out our great selection of aromatherapy products.