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Lighting Scented Candles Bad for Your Health

Scented candles can make a room feel cozy and luxurious. However, you may have heard claims that they could be harmful to your health. Is there any truth to this or is it just an overblown fear? Let’s look at the potential issues with scented candles.

Synthetic Fragrances

One of the biggest concerns with scented candles is the synthetic fragrances they often contain. These man-made scents can include phthalates, which are chemicals used to make fragrances last longer. Phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption, reproductive issues, and other health problems. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like limonene found in fragrance oils can also contribute to indoor air pollution.

Paraffin Wax and Lead Wicks

Many scented candles use paraffin wax, which releases toluene and other potentially toxic chemicals when burned. The wicks may also contain lead and heavy metals that can become airborne and inhaled.

Soot and Particulates

Like anything burned, candles produce soot and particulate pollution that can accumulate and potentially irritate the eyes, lungs, and airways, especially for those with respiratory conditions like asthma.

Fire Risk

An oft-overlooked risk of scented candles is the potential for fire if they are left unattended, placed too close to flammable items, or blown over by drafts.

Safer Candle Options

For a safer way to enjoy scented candles, opt for those made from natural waxes like soy or beeswax with cotton wicks and purer fragrance ingredients like essential oils. Battery-operated candles or reed diffusers can also provide scent without combustion.

The Bottom Line

Overall, an occasional scented candle in a well-ventilated area likely won’t cause major health issues for most people. However, those with respiratory conditions, chemical sensitivities, or who want to reduce overall exposure may wish to avoid synthetic, paraffin-based scented candles or use them only sparingly while taking steps to minimize particulates and VOCs.

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