The candle that smells so good.
There is nothing better in the fall then the cozy feeling of the cool air, watching the leaves falling, the sounds of a football game, oh and the smell of a pumpkin spice candle burning. These memories bring back good feelings to me and I look forward to replicating this every fall. The aroma’s that we smell directly affect the limbic system of the brain. This area of the brain is where moods, sexual urges and emotions are seated. Scents can bring back memories of the past, even from childhood, creating emotions. I can still remember the smell of my grandmothers perfume she wore. When I think of the smell, I can see her in my mind as a child on her farm in Southern Illinois. We as humans have feelings associated with scents that we smell triggering memories and emotions.
Burning candles is something I have done for years. I once suffered a second degree burn as a teenager from a candle that got too hot causing the wax to lite on fire, that cost me an ER visit and a scar. Another time I put out a fire in my aunts kitchen in Austria from a candle that caught fire to the table. Even with all of those encounters I continued to burn candles at home because of the emotions I felt with the aroma. Little did I know that those candles posed other risks other than a fire.
The candle that smells so good.
Here is the deal, most candles are filled with synthetic scents and ingredients that are burned into the air. Our lungs are a pathway for absorption in our bodies. We breathe in these toxins and boom they are in our bodies doing harmful things.
China is currently one of the largest importers of candles. There is very little regulation on what type of chemicals are allowed to be added to the candles in China. In 2003 candles were being made with lead-core wicks, as many as 30% of them. It helped the wick to stay up and not fall into the wax causing the flame to go out. Those wicks were banned as it was causing exposure to high amounts of heavy metals. Lead exposure has been linked to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, nervous system disruption and numerous health problems.
Several studies have been conducted using candles and testing the air quality and toxins released after burning a candle for just 3 hours. In the study it was found that there were high levels of acetaldehyde and formaldehyde both were levels above the EPA’s excess cancer risk level. It was also concluded that acrolein was found, this is an ingredient found in cigarette smoke (we know the health risks to that). (source)
I can remember times when I burned a candle and there was black smoke coming from the wick. I bet you know what I am talking about. Well, that black smoke is called candle soot. Candles can vary in the amount of soot that is released but it has been shown that candle soot may include phthalates, lead and volatiles such as benzene and toluene (source). These are known carcinogenic and hormone disrupting compounds.
How about those air freshness we LOVE?
Here is the skinny on them. Those fresh scent’s of air fresheners may mask a health threat also. Phthalates, they have been discovered in 86 percent (12 of 14) air freshener products tested, including those marketed as “all-natural” or “unscented”—and none of the products that were tested listed phthalates on their labels. Phthalates specifically have been shown to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. (Source)
So now what?
Ok, I know I was a bit depressed hearing all this for the first time and I don’t want to be all Debbie downer for you. The good news is there are options to get those same aroma’s into your home with less health risk and actually health benefit.
Here are my suggestions:
- If you are needing to burn a candle then go for a candle made with beeswax. These seem to have the least amount of risk. To be honest I have completely gotten rid of all my candles. It was tough but I got over it. I now use frameless candles in my home which has been safer considering the amount of children and pets running around in my house.
- Essential oils are a great alternative to candles. Make sure that you are confident that the essential oil that you are diffusing is truly all oil with no synthetics or you are defeating the purpose. See this post that has information about how to identify if your oil is truly a pure essential oil. You can mix up your oils that you add to your diffuser giving you those scents you remember and love like pumpkin spice, the smell of a Christmas tree or the cozy smell of cinnamon. When using pure oils and diffusing them you can actually be giving health benefits to your family rather than health risks.
Warm Pumpkin Spice Diffuser Blend
- 3drops Cinnamon
- 3 drops Ginger
- 2drops Clove
- 2drops Cardamom
Diffuse these oils in a 4 hour diffuser for a warm pumpkin spice smell.
Comment below if you made the change from harmful candles to a diffuser blends!