There is something about the soothing scent and glow from a flickering candle to warm the room.
As an adult, one of my favorite Christmas gifts was a gift card to a popular candle store.
Until I learned that not only was I filling my home with an artificial (although pleasant) fragrance, toxin were included in the fumes…
candle flame
Many candles are made with paraffin or paraffin blend. This petroleum derivative is an inexpensive wax which is why it is often utilized by manufacturers.
People with asthma can have increased respiratory difficulty around burning paraffin candles and can be as dangerous as second hand smoke.
When melted, paraffin releases fumes that are similar to those of a diesel engine, filling the air with carcinogenic chemicals.
Benzene and toluene are known carcinogens that are released into the air from melted paraffin causing headaches to lung cancer.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended limited exposure to paraffin wax fumes. Paraffin fumes have been found to cause tumors in the kidneys and liver of lab animals.
  • In 2003, the use of lead in candle wicks were banned in the USA. The lead was used in the wicks to help them stand up straight and stiff but when lit, they release lead into the air at dangerous levels. Unfortunately, imported candles do not have the same regulations and still include lead wicks, releasing 5 times the amount (of lead fumes) the EPA considers to be hazardous. Exposure to high levels of lead have been linked to numerous health problems, learning disabilities and hormone disruption.
  • According to California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, there are up to 20 toxins in paraffin candle wax, including: acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, Cyclopentene.
  • Allergic reactions can be caused by the synthetic scents and colors added to scented candles.
tea-candles
The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies here. If the candles are very inexpensive that should be your first clue as to the quality of ingredients used.
Country of origin should also be a major concern.
  • Avoid inexpensive “aromatherapy” and scented candles like Glade and Febreeze candles.
  • Gel candles are made from the same petrochemicals as paraffin but have an added danger of their glass containers occasionally exploding.
  • Cheap candles from the Dollar Store are usually imported and are likely to have lead wicks.
tapered candles
Here are two great alternatives…
Soy candles
Soy candles have become a popular alternative to paraffin candles. They burn clean, longer than paraffin candles and are soot-free. The downside to soy candles is they will spoil without a preservative and usually contain bleach and hardeners. This would not be my first choice since soy is the most genetically modified crop in the USA. I don’t think there would be any harm in burning a GMO soy candle but I would prefer not to spend my money supporting anything that has the potential of being genetically modified.
Beeswax candles
Beeswax candles come in all shapes and sizes, molded and in containers. They are non-toxic, non-allergenic, soot-free, burn the brightest, burn cleaner and burn 5 times as long as paraffin candles. Beeswax candles omit negative ions into the air when burned, invigorating the body. Although they usually cost about 10 times as much as paraffin candles, they are easy to make.
Sheets of beeswax can be purchased online. The sheets usually have a honey comb patterned pressed into the wax. The sheets can easily be rolled tightly into a tube shape around a long natural or cotton wick. Beeswax candles can also be made with candle molds or in jars.
beeswax candle mason jar
Ingredients:
•1 lb cubed beeswax (from local bee keeper or organic pellets sold online, for easier melting)
•1/2 cup organic coconut oil
•Natural or cotton wicks
•Pencil
•Container for the candles (I used 1/2 pint mason jars)
•Candy thermometer
•Double boiler (that you don’t mind designating for candle making) or a candle making pitcher
Instructions:
•Tie one end of the wick around the center of the pencil and center the wick into the jar, resting the metal wick base onto the bottom of the jar. Lay the pencil with tied wick horizontally on the top of the jar.
•Place the wax into the double boiler over med/low heat.
•Once the wax is melted, add the coconut oil
•Heat the combined was and coconut oil until it reaches the temperature of 150-160 on the candy thermometer.
•Pour a small amount into the prepared jars to cover 1/4 inch of the wick. Let the wax harden around the wick.
•With the wick secured, fill the jar with wax until 1/2 inch from the top of the jar.
•Let the candles rest and cool overnight.
•Trim the exposed wick to 1/4 inch in length.
Optional fun:
•Essential oils can be added to further enhance the beautiful soft honey aroma and can include medicinal benefits.
•Dried herbs and flowers and even coffee beans can add to offer scent and a beautiful appearance to the candle.

 

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    There is something about the soothing scent and glow from a flickering candle to warm the room. As an adult, one of my favorite Christmas gifts was a gift card to a popular candle store. Until I learned that not only was I filling my home with an artificial (although pleasant)...