Can Candle Wax Be Toxic When Burned?

If you are a lover of candles, you might be wondering if the burning of candles in your home all the time is safe, or if candle smoke could be harmful to human health? 

Candle wax is toxic to humans if ingested, but the candle smoke toxic levels are not typically enough to be a health threat, and the organic compounds and particulate matter released is no more than what you breathe in from other sources such as car fumes outside.

To put your mind at ease, we’ve composed an informational guide below which will take you through some unsupported claims and myths about scented candles, which candles are safer as well as how to keep safe when burning them.

Common Myths About Candles Being Toxic 

Modern candles nowadays have to reach a certain safety standard to be burned and are not reported to have any effects on health when the smoke is breathed in, however, there are many myths about candles being toxic. 

We’ve gone into more detail about whether or not an actual candle can be toxic to human health below. 

Myth Number One – Lead Core Candle Wicks 

Many people get worried about lead-containing candles, lead wicks used to be found in candle manufacturers designs way back and gave off candles toxic fumes, they have however been banned in modern candles for a very long time, meaning lead-containing candles no longer exist on the market. 

The national candle association way back banned candles toxic lead wicks in 1974, the best way to tell if a candle has a lead wick is by rubbing the wick on white paper, if it turns grey there is lead inside.

Myth Number Two – Scented Candles Give Toxic Fumes 

Many people are concerned about the safety of candles that are scented like Yankee candle designs. 

A scented type of candle does contain chemicals for it to be fragranced but these fragrances have to meet a certain health standard before they can be used, scented candles can indeed cause some acute health issues in people with asthma, however.

Myth Number Three – Wax Itself Is Toxic When Burned 

There was a study released a while ago that paraffin candles gave off toxic fumes, however, this scientific study was never confirmed and candle wax such as beeswax, paraffin and soy has never been proved to have any negative health side effects when burnt. 

At the most, exposure to candle smoke will give off fragrance, carbon dioxide and water in low concentrations which is not harmful to breathe in.

Myth Number Four – They Give Out Particulate Matter & VOC’s 

Candles do indeed release VOC’s and particulate matter but they are not enough for negative health effects, you find a huge amount of other VOC’s and particulate matter in your home from other objects which are breathed in daily.

Which Type Of Candles Are Safe? 

All candles are safe to let burn in your home, but some people prefer to burn natural candle options such as soy and beeswax rather than paraffin candles which are not natural.

The best types of candles if your looking for cleaner smoke would be soy made candles, however, these natural candles options do still release particulate matter even though they are the healthiest candles.

Can You Be Allergic To Candles? 

Although we now know that candles do not release any toxic chemicals, they can trigger allergies if they have synthetic fragrances. 

Scented smells such as pine trees or sweets can cause allergic reactions in people such as coughing and runny noses.

The best candles to choose if you have allergies are – 

  • Beeswax candles – Although more expensive, these natural candles are thought to be better for your health and allergies than paraffin wax candles when burnt.
  • Natural wick candles – Make sure your candle is burning with a natural cotton wick.
  • Aromatherapy candles – Choose scented candles that have natural fragrances rather than synthetic such as lavender.
  • No scent candles – If you find you have allergies to all types of scented candles then you might be better off using electronic candles or non-scented ones.

Tips To Burn Candles Safely

  • Keep a distance – It’s not a good idea to burn a candle right next to you, not only is the open flame dangerous but it can also mean you breathe in a lot of the smoke which is not good for your health.
  • Do not burn the candle for too long – Burn your candle for 3-4 hours maximum, any longer can cause it to burn and tunnel releasing bad fumes.
  • Trim the wick – Always trim your wick if it gets any longer than 15mm to keep it safe and burn even.
  • Ventilate after – After burning your candle for a period make sure to ventilate the room.

Frequently Asked Questions About Candle Wax Being Toxic To Humans 

Is paraffin wax bad to breathe in? 

Paraffin wax is not bad to breathe in, the chemicals released are too low in concentrations to do any damage to your health, soy and beeswax candles are the healthier options to burn, however.

Do candles release particulate matter? 

Yes, candles do release additional particulate matter into the air, however, there are already high levels in most homes.

Which type of candles is the healthiest to burn?

Soy candles, coconut wax, beeswax and other natural candles are the best to burn as they do not release soot when burned through, make sure they have natural wicks too.

Final Words 

To conclude, candle wax is only toxic to human health if ingested, in terms of burning the wax, there are no current reports of any negative health effects from burning candles unless you have an old lead wick candle. 

If you are worried about burning candles in your home due to the wax we suggest avoiding paraffin candles and sticking with natural options such as beeswax and soy candles which do not emit harmful fumes.

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