A beautifully scented candle can be the difference between a house and a home. Very few of us can resist a warm, flickering flame filling our home with the scents we love, but do you really know what's in your favourite candle?
What is in mainstream candles?
Many of the mainstream candles on the market are produced using paraffin wax, which is actually derived from petroleum waste! When this wax is burned it releases chemicals and gases such as Alkanes, Alkenes and Toluene, similar to those found in petrol fumes.1 Cheap to produce and not sustainable or environmentally friendly, paraffin has to be chemically bleached and deodorised before it can be made into wax and is often mixed with animal fats, dyes, heavy synthetic scents and lead wicks. Burning paraffin wax candles around your home can potentially release health disrupting chemicals into the air.
Why should you avoid them?
Paraffin wax fumes emit toxic fumes and chemicals such as benzene and toluene, which are known carcinogens and nervous system disruptors.2 A South Carolina State University study found that inhaling paraffin wax can trigger asthma attacks and cause migraines.1 The study also found that inhaling these fumes can even be the cause of allergies! If the idea of paraffin wax isn't alarming enough, the fragrance you love could be just as damaging. The synthetic fragrance oils added to Paraffin candles can release tiny particles into the air that can potentially be absorbed into the body once inhaled.2 The chemicals used in synthetic fragrances can be derived from toxins and synthesisers adding even more fumes to the air when burned along with paraffin wax.3 Fumes from many soy candles can also pose major health issues if the wax contains any GMO soy, as these Soy plants are grown to withstand toxic pesticides which then release those as fumes when burnt.
How to avoid toxic candles
To avoid the toxic fumes of mainstream scented candles, opt for natural candles that have a GMO free Soy, Vegetable or Beeswax base and are scented with natural essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. Natural candles are non-irritating and do not negatively affect air quality, and the materials used to make them are renewable and biodegradable, unlike Paraffin. It's also important to ensure the wick is made from organic cotton, as a candle with a lead wick will release even more toxic chemicals. Lead wick candles are banned from sale within Australia but may still be available elsewhere.4 Right now there are Australian rules and regulations regarding the safety of candle holders and decorative accessories, but there are less surrounding what candle wax is actually made from.4 Beeswax candles are a much safer option and great for asthma and allergies, with this wax actually helping to minimise the amount of allergens in the air! Beeswax candles are known for their ability to purify air quality and emit negative ions, which attract the airborne positive ions found in dust, mold, pollen, pet hair and other irritants.
How to get the most from your natural candle
To minimise the amount of smoke released into the air by your candle, ensure you trim the wick of your candle every few hours and after each use. Keeping the wick trimmed to around 1/8 of an inch will control and limit the intensity of the flame, ensuring that less soot is formed around the rim of the candle holder. Burn your candle for only a few hours at a time, and allow the wax to melt right to the edges after lighting the candle for the first time for an even burn and to prevent 'tunnelling'. Beeswax candles actually produce very little smoke, so there is even less risk of any irritation!
Which natural candles do I recommend?
Pure Beeswax Candle in Glass Holder
With a light and subtle honey scent, the Pure Beeswax Candle in Glass Holder is made with pure Beeswax sourced from New South Wales farmers and a natural cotton wick. Supporting local farmers, this beautiful candle comes in a luxurious crystal cut glass holder with lid and can be reused over and over with the refills. This exquisite candle is perfect for anyone with allergies and makes a beautiful gift.
Pure Beeswax Tealight Candles
The Pure Beeswax Tealight Candles have a delicious honey-nectar scent and are housed in the highest grade heat resistant polycarbonate plastic. Ideal for single use, these tealights help to clear the air of pollutants and allergens, making them perfect for hayfever and allergy sufferers. Place them in your living room, bathroom, bedroom or outdoors to cleanse the air and create a calming atmosphere. Also available with glass holders!
Blisume Scented Candle Vanilla
Made from 100% natural ingredients and free from synthetics, the Vanilla Blisume Scented Candle has a sweet, pure and indulgent Vanilla scent and is made from biodegradable soy wax. With a pure cotton wick and a vegan wax formula, the natural vanilla fragrance is calming, uplifting and fills your home with a luxuriously sweet scent. Available in small or larger sizes!
Artisans Bungalow Candle Citrus Cedrus
Ideal to replace your Citronella candle, the Artisans Bungalow Citrus Cedrus Candle contains Clementine, Cedarwood, Sweet Orange, Lemongrass, Cinnamon and Black Pepper essential oils in a base of eco-friendly soy wax. The citrus-rich fragrance is a natural insect repellent, and is the perfect natural option to rid your home of mosquitoes, flies and moths. With a natural cotton wick, this candle burns for up to 50 hours. This fragrant candle is Australian made and crafted in small handmade batches!
Vanessa Megan Soy Wax Candle - Autumn Afternoon
With a blend of five essential oils and a base of GMO-free Soy wax, the Vanessa Megan Soy Wax Candle in Autumn Afternoon uses a unique blend of Mandarin, Lavender, Patchouli and Peru Balsam essential oils to provide a grounding, calming & balancing scent that is ideal for every day. This beautiful Australian made and Certified Organic candle has a pure cotton wick and harnesses the benefits of essential oil aromatherapy to reduce stress and calm the mind and body.
ECO. Aroma Trio
To avoid synthetic fragrances and fill your home with the therapeutic benefits of natural essential oil scents, the ECO. Aroma Trio makes the perfect starter kit. Including Eucalyptus, Lavender and Sweet Orange scents, these natural essential oils can be added to an oil vaporiser or diffuser and blended together to fill the air in your home with an uplifting or calming natural fragrance.
Source: 1South Carolina State University, 2The Huffington Post, 3United States Environmental Protection Agency, 4Product Safety Australia.