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Are Candles Hurting Your Indoor Air Quality?

There’s a reason the candle business is booming. Nothing creates ambiance in a room quite like the unique glow of a candle. In the fall, they can give you the perfect apple pie scent in a kitchen, without actually having to make a pie. And when the weather gets colder in Vancouver, WA, candles can aid in heating your home.

But have you ever considered that the candles you’re lighting could hurt the indoor air quality of a room? Any concerns tend to be lost among all the positive things candles can do, but there are a few negatives you should be aware of.

According to the National Candle Association, “U.S. retail sales of candle products are estimated at approximately $3.14 billion annually,” and a large majority of these candles are made with paraffin wax. Though less expensive to make and purchase than some of their wax competitors, this option can create negative air quality effects in your Vancouver, WA, home. Air quality experts can assist you in making sure your home is set up to defend against these air quality hazards, but it’s good to know what’s causing those issues and to try to prevent them on your own.

Ingredients May Be Dangerous

So what exactly is the issue with candles and air quality? Well, it starts with the ingredients they’re made with. Many candles today are made with a paraffin wax base, which is a by-product of petroleum. In order to be turned into wax, paraffin has to be deodorized and bleached. In addition, candle wicks are sometimes made with a lead core, the color is artificially created, and those clean scents that give your home a refreshing smell are made from fragranced chemicals. These ingredients sitting in a glass container on a shelf are of little to no harm to your indoor air quality. The problems begin when the candles are lit and begin to burn.

As candles with the previously mentioned ingredients burn in a room, they start to release carcinogenic toxins into the air. Formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene are just a few of the most common carcinogenic toxins found in standard paraffin wax candles. Shockingly, these are also some of the same toxins found in diesel fuel. As your candle burns, all of those toxins are released into the air and breathed in by the people surrounding them. Exposure to these chemicals for too long can contribute to or cause health issues such as asthma, lung inflammation, and even cancer.

Soot, a black powdery substance that consists mostly of amorphous carbon, is another byproduct of burning candles. As this substance becomes airborne, it’s able to enter your body and make its way to the bloodstream. Introducing this substance to your body can contribute to medical issues like shortness of breath, heart attack, or bronchitis. As well as penetrating your body, soot can also creep into ventilation systems and damage items in the home. The soot that’s created from burning paraffin candles is notorious for staining walls, curtains, and carpets with a black dusting.

Safer Alternatives

Are Candles Hurting Your Indoor Air Quality

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a soothing scent spread throughout your home without subjecting your family to dangerous chemicals. There are many other ways to give your house the scent you’re looking for, while leaving out the toxins and unnatural fragrances. Alternative, non-toxic candles are a great option to standard candles.

Candles made from soy wax are one of the most popular options for people wishing to stay away from toxins. Though more expensive than paraffin candles, soy candles are known to burn longer and also don’t release any harmful by-products. These candles are derived from soybeans, are biodegradable, and produce very little soot.

Candles made from beeswax are another good substitute for paraffin candles. Naturally white, yellow, or golden in color, this option comes straight from the bees. They burn with little to no smoke, and the negative ions they produce can actually help clean the air by neutralizing pollutants. Burning these kinds of candles can get rid of unwanted odors and dust in the air, while maintaining the indoor air quality of your home. But that’s not the only positive of switching to beeswax candles. Just like soy candles, candles made from beeswax are known to burn longer than standard paraffin candles.

One more alternative for standard paraffin candles is getting an essential oil diffuser. Though this option can’t give you the warming effect of a candle, it can help fill your home with amazing scents and keep the air quality at a healthy level. A diffuser is filled with distilled water and essential oil of your choosing, and that’s the extent of what is released into the air. Just a simple mix of those two things. Essential oils come in a wide array of fragrances and, when purchased from a quality retailer, are 100 percent natural. Candles made from soy and beeswax are typically scented with pure essential oils as well.

Still Love Your Paraffin Candles?

f you still can’t give up your candles in your house, don’t fret. Lighting the occasional candle in your home isn’t the end of the world, as long as you stay proactive and keep your air quality in check. Dealing with a professional to assess the air quality of your house is a good way to stay proactive.

A professional can take a look at your home and make sure the protection you put in place is actually effective. For instance, if you’ve had duct sealing done in your home, it can be a great way to protect from air leaks, and a properly maintained HVAC system with filtration and air filters can reduce the toxins that come from candles. Having proper ventilation is a key component to making sure those toxins can escape your home if you do decide to light a candle with paraffin wax. A way to fight against the smoke of your typical candle is to make sure your air filter is changed frequently. Entek is a premiere HVAC company in the Vancouver, WA, area and can ensure that all of your air quality needs are met.