This is Day 36 of the Green in 365 series!
Eating by candlelight is so romantic, right? What about burning candles as decoration, and to leave a lovely scent around your home? Well it’s not so romantic or lovely when you realize the dangers that are filling your home as the candles burn.
Conventional paraffin candles are usually made from petroleum byproducts, and while the effects of burning petroleum based candles in your home are up for debate (some say it’s equivalent to burning diesel fuel, others say it’s perfectly safe), I’ve decided it’s not something I’m willing to risk. Burning parrafin candles may release benzene and toulane, which are cancel causing chemicals (source) and I’d rather be safe than sorry, so we’ve removed, or stopped burning, all paraffin candles in our home.
Another issue is the some candles have lead wicks, which when burned give off levels of lead that are 10 to 36 times higher than the EPA’s recommended level for outdoor air. (source) Lead wicks have been banned in the US since 2003, but there are still candles being sold with lead wicks, usually imported from other countries, especially China.
Finally, the scents in most conventional candles are synthetic, and often also derived from petroleum. Most synthetic fragrances contain phtalates, which are hormone disruptors. And the scents from candles can also be irritating, especially for those with allergies and asthma.
Choose Safe, Non-Toxic Candles
The great thing is that there are lots of options available for finding safer, non-toxic candles. Your best bet for choosing safer candles, and keeping dangerous chemicals out of your home, is to avoid most conventional candles, especially cheap, imported ones, and also including specialty and name brand candles.
Chose candles made from clean burning beeswax, or soy wax (although there are issues surronding soy wax that I won’t get into here, but Stephanie at Keeper of the Home discusses in her post about choosing safer candles), and that are scented with essential oils, or with natural, phtalate-free fragrances.
Before purchasing candles, be sure you read all of the information about the type of materials used: wax, wick, and fragrances, and don’t buy candles if you can’t be sure that the materials used are safe.
A quick search on Etsy will give you more options than you can choose from for handmade soy and beeswax candles. I have also used, and enjoy, candles from Soy Delights. You can also buy materials to make your own candles at home, which I would love to do myself someday!
Do you have a favorite brand or type of non-toxic candle? Please share with us in the comments!
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