Which Scented Candles Are Safe?
If like me, you love scented candles and you care about your health, then read on to find out which candles are toxic and which ones are safe to burn.
Natural vs paraffin wax
Natural scented candles are made of natural waxes such as soya wax, beeswax or floral waxes. All natural waxes are renewable, sustainable and biodegradable.
Soya wax is made from the oil of the soya beans, the EcoSoya wax is the one I use because it’s free from pesticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Materials (GMM).
Beeswax is made from honeybees and is secreted from the glands of the bees’ tiny bellies to build the honeycomb. When burnt, beeswax releases negative ions that clean the air by negating the positive charge of air contaminants.
Flower wax is the vegetable wax from the flowers, the solid material that is left after the essential oil of a plant is extracted.
Whereas paraffin wax is a petroleum by-product that is derived from the sludge waste when crude oil is refined into petrol. It releases up to 11 carcinogenic chemicals when burned which include benzene, carbon tetrachloride, toluene and naphthalene.
Synthetic fragrances vs natural aromas
Read the labels - Aromatic candles may be scented with synthetic oils that are petroleum based, rather than with the natural essential oils. This provides an additional source of exposure to petroleum based fumes. But don’t be fooled with the term “natural”; to be allowed to use this term, candle companies only need to include 51% of natural ingredients, the rest can be synthetic. So if a candle is made of 95% natural soya wax and 5% of artificial scent, it can use the word “natural”.
Labels of candles that are made with pure essential oils will display the Latin name of the oil. Paraffin candles scented with artificial fragrances are incredibly cheap to make compared to natural aromatherapy candles (natural waxes and essential oils).
Soot: the myth and the art of burning candles
Many articles state that paraffin candles are toxic because they create soot. That’s a myth. Soot is a product of incomplete combustion; soot particles are what make a flame burn yellow. When a flame is elongated and disturbed, it gives off more soot. Therefore all candles create soot unless they are wicked and burned properly. It seems that many consumers have lost the art of burning candles.
If your candle is emitting soot, extinguish it and allow it to cool. Before you light it again, to achieve the perfect length, trim the wick by breaking it with your fingers.
What types of candles do you buy? I'd love to hear from you.
Natural vs synthetic fragrances in candles
Nathalie Allard is an Artisan Perfumer and the founder of Petits Rituels. She’s known for creating beautiful room-transforming 100% natural fragrances with real therapeutic benefits.