Who doesn’t love walking into a candle store and being transported into a world of lovely scents? And what better way to unwind after a long and stressful day than by lighting a candle and indulging in the relaxing scent? Unfortunately, many people fail to realize that scented candles come with their own inherent dangers, especially when it comes to respiratory health and indoor air quality.
Potential Risks of Scented Candles
Toxic Chemical Release
Many scented candles contain potentially dangerous chemicals, such as toluene and benzene. Specifically, these chemicals are released when scented candles are burned and wax melts. And these chemicals, in high enough concentrations, have been known to cause lung, nervous system, and even brain damage.
Another potential risk of lighting scented candles is that of soot production; when you light a candle wick, existing soot on the wick can burn off and be released into the air. In turn, you may ingest the soot and it can build up in the lungs over time. And while all candles with wicks will produce soot (there’s no way around it), it is worth noting that scented candles produce more.
Finally, the scents, fragrances, and essential oils used in scented candles can be a major irritant to those who suffer from asthma. In fact, some people with asthma can find themselves suffering from an asthma attack upon setting foot inside a store with scented candles—even if the candles aren’t lit.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Despite the many potential risks involved with burning scented candles, the good news is that there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.
1. Ensure Proper Ventilation
For starters, when lighting candles (scented or unscented) in your home, make sure you have proper ventilation. For example, avoid lighting candles in an enclosed space. Instead, make sure interior doors and perhaps even some windows are open, if weather permits. You may also want to consider turning on a ceiling fan to help circulate air while candles are lit.
2. Choose the Right Candles
Also, be sure to purchase safe candles. Specifically, candles made from natural ingredients like beeswax and soy are known to be safer to burn than petroleum-based candles. They also tend not to have the same harmful chemicals that many traditional paraffin candles do. Or, stop burning candles in your home altogether and switch to house plants or flowers for natural, safe fragrance.
3. Change Your Air Filters Regularly
Finally, make sure your home’s air filters are swapped our regularly to ensure safe air quality. Ideally, you should be changing your home air filter out at least once every few months. However, during times of heavy air conditioning use, once-a-month replacement is strongly encouraged. The right air and furnace filters will help to remove toxins and other harmful substances from the air. Specifically, carbon pleated filters are known to be effective in removing pet smells, smoke, paint, and cooking odors.
Now that you have a better understanding of the potential dangers of burning scented candles in your home, what steps will you take to better protect yourself?