The environment in our home can either enhance our health – or drain it.
Some candles are good for your health. They create a serene environment and therefore help to reduce your stress. Other candles, however, can add significantly to your indoor air pollution – effectively poisoning the air.
While diet and exercise continue to be two of the most important longevity lifestyle habits, it's also essential that we pay close attention to our daily environment – the sounds, the sights, and the smells – because our environment can either enhance us, or drain our health.
by Jim Harris
How to Avoid Poisonous Candles and Choose Healthy Ones Instead
Yesterday during lunch with a friend, I mentioned that my wife and I were doing a detoxification program. He asked how often we do a detox, and I responded, "every 4 to 6 months."
My friend looked puzzled and replied, "you live such a clean life. Why would you detox so often?"
My answer was that none of us live in a protective bubble. We are all exposed to toxins on a regular basis – no matter how much we attempt to protect ourselves. Most of us are inadvertently adding to our toxic burden on a daily basis without knowing where it's coming from.
A client mentioned to me that the health studio she frequents burns several paraffin wax candles during classes and it makes her feel ill.
Another client who performs maintenance on heating and air conditioning systems says that he can easily recognize when a household burns candles because of the black soot deposited on the filters within the furnace or heat exchanger.
Flickering candles add beauty and create ambiance, while scented candles can set a mood that is uplifting, homey or even sensual. Nearly everyone loves candles – especially if they smell good – however, are you harming your health with the candles you burn?
Paraffin Candles and Your Health
According to the EPA, paraffin wax candles are a leading cause of indoor air pollution.
Paraffin wax is part of the organic material in the petroleum sludge left over from oil and gas production. The wax is treated, bleached and processed into a solid and used to make a variety of things including candles.
Most candles on the market today are made from paraffin wax, many have potentially toxic metal wicks and are scented with synthetic fragrances. Stabilizers are often added to the paraffin to control the way the candle burns.
"...many of us are inadvertently adding to our toxic burden on a daily basis without knowing where it's coming from"
Candles can emit trace amounts of chemicals such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone, and naphthalene all of which sound very nasty to be breathing in.
Paraffin candles produce smoke and soot which are the product of the petroleum-based paraffin wax. A 2009 study confirmed that even unscented, non-pigmented paraffin candles using no dyes still released pollutants into the air. While these candles can look and smell good they may actually be impacting your health by adding to your toxic burden.
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Keeping Your Home Healthy with Nontoxic Candles
We have alternative and healthy choices for our candles which include:
- soy and beeswax candles
- candles with wicks made from braided cotton or paper with a cellulose core (the purpose of a "core" in a wick is to prevent the wick from falling over and extinguishing itself)
- candles that contain plant based all natural essential oils; essential oils usually won't trigger asthma and can truly have a therapeutic effect
A major benefit of beeswax is that it allows for complete combustion of the wax and the wick due to the hotter flame resulting from the beeswax. It gives a slow, clean burn that is virtually smoke-free and soot-free. As a bonus, slow, even burning beeswax candles do not drip. When you light a beeswax candle it burns with a golden bright light and releases a wonderful honey fragrance adding calmness to your environment.
Although I am not an advocate of soy as a healthy food, soy candles are clean burning and a healthy alternative to paraffin candles. Be certain your soy candle is 100% soy, for example not 10% soy and 90% paraffin.
Enjoy your healthy candles and remember they have open flames and precautions must be taken to prevent an unexpected fire in your home.
- never leave burning candles unattended
- keep lighted candles away from children and pets
- keep the wick trimmed for a low flame
- use sturdy candle holders
- keep candles clear of combustible materials
There are more and more manufacturers out there that make truly pure, safe candles – you just have to look for them – so choose your candles carefully.