Yup, besides laundry detergent, dryer sheets, air fresheners, and everything else you have to worry about when it comes to your health; you even have to worry about candles. As it turns out they can emit harmful chemicals that can cause you and your loved ones health problems.
Luckily not all of them are toxic, but first let’s start with the ones that are.
The probem with paraffin candles
“Regular candles,” i.e. that bag of tealights you can buy for five bucks, are made from paraffin. As the name implies, paraffin candles are made from paraffin wax, a by-product of petroleum refining. The result? A highly toxic (and environmentally unfriendly) product that literally poisons the air you breathe.
Paraffin wax starts as the sludge at the bottom of the barrel of crude oil. Even asphalt is extracted before paraffin in the refining process! The black sludge, already filled with numerous toxins, undergoes bleaching and treatment by carcinogens benzene and/or toulene.
And the chemicals don’t stop there. Chemists mix in toxic concoctions of colors and fragrances to make this waste product marketable and appealing. The final result is a innocent looking candle which releases seven documented toxins –two of which are carcinogenic–when it burns.
And toxins aren’t the only problem with burning paraffin candles. Over time, repeatedly burning paraffin candles leaves black soot stains on walls, ceilings, furniture, and drapery. The microscopic soot particles at fault for the cosmetic damage also cause serious health problems. These tiny particles are easily inhaled and get trapped in the deepest part of the lungs, which may cause respiratory irritation.
Soy vs. Beeswax Candles
Hands down, beeswax candles win the competition. They can effectively reduce allergies, asthma, and hay fever by releasing negative ions into the air. Although soy candles don’t boast medicinal properties, soy is clearly a better choice that paraffin candles… sometimes (read why paraffin candles are so dangerous here). There is a catch…
In the U.S., the term “pure” on a label means only 51% of an ingredient (and that goes for food, too). Companies sell both “pure” beeswax candles and “pure” soy candle, which contain a combination of 51% beeswax/soy wax and 49% toxic paraffin. Look for the key phrase “100% Pure Beeswax” or “100% Soy” on candles.
But even 100% soy candles have some significant problems:
Soy candles contain paraffin
Interestingly, even a 100% soy wax candle must be processed with a small amount of paraffin. Potentially, burning a 100% soy candle will release small amounts of the carcinogens and toxins found in paraffin. Again, most soy candles on the market are not 100% soy, and contain a high percentage of poisonous paraffin.
Soy candles often contain fragrances and dyes
Additionally, many soy candles contain the same poisonous dyes and fragrances added to paraffin candles. (Granted, some low quality beeswax candles are dyed and fragranced, too, and they do not offer the healing benefits of 100% pure beeswax candles.) Interestingly, essential oils are not safe options for candle fragrances, either. A soy or beeswax candle scented with essential oils will release toxins, since combustion changes the molecular structure of these oils.
100% pure beeswax candles require no added fragrances or dyes, because the pollen and honey content of the wax offer a natural orange color and light, sweet fragrance.
Beeswax Candles Win Hands Down!
How beeswax candles clean the air
Did you know that beeswax candles clean the air when they burn?
Beeswax releases negative ions when it burns. Pollen, dust, dirt, pollutants, and any other junk in the air all carry a positive charge, and that is how they can be suspended in the air. The negative ions released from burning beeswax negate the positive charge of air contaminants, and the neutralized ions are sucked back into the burning candle or fall to the ground. Many air purifiers and water filters harness this effective negative ion technology.
Because beeswax candles clean the air and reduce indoor pollutants, they can effectively reduce asthma, allergies, and hay fever. One of the most rewarding parts of my candle pouring job was listening to customers tell me miraculous stories of how the beeswax candles changed their quality of life. The most common thing I heard was, “these are the only candles I can burn,” or “these are the only candles my husband will let me burn,” since the beeswax didn’t release irritating toxins and fragrances. Here are two of the most memorable stories.
Beeswax Candles and Asthma & Allergies
Pure Beeswax Candles on the other hand burn with almost no smoke or scent and clean the air by releasing negative ions into the air. These negative ions can bind with toxins and help remove them from the air.
Beeswax candles are often especially helpful for those with asthma or allergies and they are effective at removing common allergens like dust and dander from the air. Beeswax candles also burn more slowly than paraffin candles so they last much longer. -wellnessmama
BEESWAX CANDLES SOUND GREAT, RIGHT? BUT THERE IS A CATCH…
Sneaky labeling on beeswax candles
In the U.S., the term “pure” on a label means only 51% of an ingredient (and that goes for food, too). Often, companies sell “pure” beeswax candles which contain a combination of 51% beeswax and 49% toxic paraffin. Look for the key phrase “100% Pure Beeswax” on candles.
100% pure beeswax candles come with an unexpectedly large price tag for those used to buying 100 paraffin tea lights for five bucks at Ikea. No one should pay money, however, to poison their home. When you buy 100% pure beeswax candles, you are making a health investment.