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The Hidden Dangers of Scented Candles

Hidden Dangers of Scented Candles

Scented candles can make a room smell wonderful and create a cozy ambiance. However, many people are unaware of the potential health risks that come from burning these popular home fragrances.

Candle Wax and Wicks

Most candles are made from paraffin wax, which is a byproduct of petroleum refining. When burned, paraffin candles can release toluene and benzene, which are known carcinogens. Some candle wicks contain lead and other heavy metals that can become airborne as the wick burns.

Synthetic Fragrances

The synthetic fragrances used in many scented candles contain phthalates, which are chemicals that make the scent last longer. Phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption, reproductive issues, and other health problems. Limonene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in fragrances can also contribute to indoor air pollution.

Specific Health Concerns

Headaches, dizziness, nausea, and respiratory irritation are some of the most commonly reported issues from scented candle exposure. Those with asthma, allergies, or chemical sensitivities may be especially vulnerable. Synthetic musks used in some fragrances have also been associated with hormone disruption.

Fire Risk

Beyond air quality concerns, burning candles always pose some fire risk if left unattended or placed too close to flammable materials like curtains. Around 8,600 home candle fires are reported annually.

Soot and Particulates

Like any burning material, candles produce soot and particulate matter that can accumulate in the air. Inhaling this can potentially exacerbate respiratory issues like asthma, especially in confined spaces without proper ventilation.

Safer Alternatives

For those looking for safer options, beeswax or soy wax candles made with cotton wicks are better choices. Unscented candles or candles using essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances also pose fewer health risks. Opening windows and running exhaust fans can help reduce indoor air pollution from candles.

While an occasional scented candle likely won’t cause major harm, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers from regularly burning paraffin candles with synthetic fragrances, especially for those with respiratory issues. Moderation, proper ventilation, and considering safer candle alternatives are wise precautions when enjoying this popular home fragrance product.

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