I really, really, really used to love strongly scented candles. You know, the ones that could instantly fill up your home with the smell of birthday cake or lilacs… Until, I found out what was in those lovely smelling glowing beauties. Chemicals… and lots of them. Chemicals that I was inadvertently dispensing all throughout my home every time I lit one up. Chemicals that can cause cancer no less. So, what is a home scented wanting person to do? Don’t worry, there are a lot of safe, non-toxic candles on the market that will easily and effortlessly replace your old scented candles.
What is So Wrong With My Scented Candles?
Believe it or not, some candles out on the market today contain lead. Yeah, the bad stuff that is now in people’s drinking water or that we are supposed to watch out for in paint in old homes. Lead is actually used in the wicks of some candles to help them stay firm and upright. Technically, lead in candle wicks was banned in 2003 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission because a lead-core wick can release up to five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds the EPA pollution standards for outdoor air. As most of us know, lead has been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and learning and behavioral disabilities.
If you are suspicious of your candle having a lead wick, scratch the unlit wick onto a white piece of paper, if you see a dark pencil or graphite looking mark on the paper, it most likely contains lead. If you have an already lit candle, look at the top or cut off a little piece to see if you can identify the dark center. If either of these is the case, throw out your candle.
Are Lead-Core Wicks the Only Problem?
Unfortunately, no. You will also want to stay clear of candles made from paraffin. Paraffin is a petroleum by-product that can release carcinogens into the air through the soot. This dangerous soot can also cause aggravation issues with people who already have asthma or lung or heart issues.
Beyond just your health, the soot that is leached from paraffin candles can damage your electrical appliances, computers, vents, and ductwork. To add insult to injury, if the candle is scented with synthetic fragrance, it can also leach phthalates into the air, which have also been linked to a whole host of health issues, including cancer. (See my other article “What Are Phthalates?” for more information.)
Natural, Non-Toxic Candles
So, what on earth is a scented home loving person to do? Simple, just do a little research (mainly by reading this article) and buy safe candles, natural candles, healthy candles. They do exist, I promise.
Probably the most natural candles you can buy are 100 percent beeswax candles with cotton wicks that are unbleached and free of any other toxic chemicals. As a side bonus, beeswax candles have a very pleasant natural scent and have been shown to help purify indoor air and emit negative (actually the good kind) of ions into the air.
If beeswax isn’t your first choice, you can also look for vegetable wax candles. These candles are made from 100 percent vegetable-bases waxes, including hemp and soy. Soy wouldn’t be my first choice since it is generally genetically modified (GMOs) and I try to avoid those in my food, so I don’t really want them in my air either.
Whatever base that you choose for your candles, make sure they are only scented with pure essential oils. The benefit is that there are many options on the market now, so you don’t have to settle for boring or patchouli smells.
My Top Picks
These candles are 100 percent beeswax, and only scented and colored by pollen and honey.
You can find them on Amazon.
Way Out Wax is from Morrisville, Vermont and makes a great line of vegetable and hemp oil wax candles. They also make non-GMO based soy candles.
You can find them on Amazon.
These candles are 100 percent beeswax and come in a variety of scents and shapes.
You can find them easiest on Amazon.
Buying non-toxic candles is really easier now more than ever. There are a lot of great companies out there creating great products so we don’t have to choose between our creature comforts and our health down the road. Please let me know what non-toxic or natural candles that you have found in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I recommend these products because they are products that I personally use or companies that I have found trustworthy.