There’s nothing better than lighting a scented candle in your freshly cleaned home, next to your bubble bath or to pop in the middle of the table on date night! But a couple of months ago the vet warned my sister that her scented candles were having a detrimental effect on her cat’s lung health. Being pregnant at the time, I wondered if they could also cause harm to a baby’s lungs.
The short answer is yes, in fact they can cause harm to adult’s lungs as well!
Here’s the long answer: Scented candles give off VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds. If you’ve ever researched into and bought ‘baby/child-friendly’ paint, you would have looked for paint which is VOC free. That’s because breathing in VOC’s can cause a number of health problems, such as headaches and dizziness (short exposure) or cancer and kidney damage (long exposure). For more info on VOC’s click here.
Most scented candles are made with paraffin wax, including the very popular Yankee Candle (although they do state that they use refined paraffin). Paraffin is an oil by-product and can give off the same types of emissions found in diesel fuel fumes! Diesel – something I never would have related to my lovely smelling candle!
Candle wicks may also cause harmful air pollution in your home. Some candle wicks contain lead. “A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air, says the CPSC, which is why they banned lead wicks in 2003. Exposure to high amounts of lead has been linked to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and numerous health problems.” Quote source.
I could go on and on with all the research I found surrounding the safety of scented candles, but this was enough to persuade me not to use them anymore. If you do want to read more, look here.
You may have seen on my Instagram that I have been experimenting with making my own chemical free scented candles. I decided to use soy wax in my candles. Soy Wax is non-toxic, releasing no known carcinogens (substances capable of causing cancer) into the air. I also chose a wick made of cotton, ensuring that it didn’t contain any lead. To scent my candle I used a lavender essential oil.
To try and give you a full and honest picture, I did find one piece of research that found small amounts of VOC’s are released when essential oils are burned, but certainly not the same amount as paraffin candles. See more about this here.
I have found that the only completely toxic free candle is a bee's wax candle. However, I think essential oil soy candles are a safer scented candle than shop bought paraffin candles.
DIY scented candles:
1.Super glue your votive wick to your candle container. Depending on the circumference/width of your container, you may need to use more than one wick, evenly spreading them. If not, the wick will not melt all of the wax. See pics below:
2. Melt your wax flakes in a glass container over boiling water. I used double the amount of wax flakes that the container holds was enough.
3. Add essential oils to the melted wax and stir well.
4.Pour the wax into your candle container and leave to set over night. I used lolly pop sticks to hold my candle wicks in place.
5. Light your candles!
Using three wicks instead on one worked much better with my glass container. I will judge the amount of wicks I use each time, and I will also give bee's wax a go in the future.
I will be handing my natural scented candles out to friends and family over the coming week and will ask them to write reviews, which I will collate in a blog next week.