Chemical Containing Candles… What?

Fall is here and fast approaching the wonderful holidays. Christmas is my FAVORITE! With that comes cozy fireplaces, reconnecting with family and friends, too much (dare I say unhealthy) food, dampened immune systems, and chemical containing candles. WHAT?


Way to ruin my holiday, Sarah! Hear me out. In massage school I worked at Murdochs and around thanksgiving our candles came in. Lovely smells of fir and sugar cookies without having to lift a finger in the kitchen. Count me in! I’d also stalk Bed Bath & Beyond to see which new Yankee Candle I’d add to my collection with the goal of having one for every mood or season.

When we began our toxin cleanout in 2010, God seemed to give me intuition in some areas of our lives that I am only now beginning to research and learn why the decision I made really behooved us. One of these was not using candles. It occurred to me that they were made of petroleum based wax. And in burning them the wax slowly disappeared. By my wonderful power of deduction it made sense that petroleum was floating in my home each time we burned a candle. What an icky thought! May as well pipe the exhaust from the county road into our living room. I admit it was difficult at first and I kept my favorites on standby for a couple of years before I finally got rid of them.

Now, I’ve learned that paraffin based candles release toxic chemicals like benzene and toluene. According to ATSDR, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, toluene may have a negative effect on your brain. Low to moderate exposure on a daily basis can lead to symptoms like drowsiness, confusion, memory loss, loss of appetite, weakness, drunken-type actions, and nausea. It would be like sniffing paint or fingernail polish on a regular basis. At high levels, it can damage your kidneys. Add alcohol to the situation (bubble bath, wine, candles) and you’ve got a chemical cocktail that exponentially increases the negative effect on you liver than alcohol alone ever would. (source)

While Toluene is thought to have little carcinogenic potential, benzene is a known carcinogen. Typically linked with leukemia and cancers of other blood cells. More info here: (source) Benzene is a byproduct of the petroleum based paraffin wax that makes up candles as well as synthetic fragrance oils used to create those ‘homey’ smells we love. Chemists breakdown the compound of plants then create fake fragrances that imitate those smells “Frankenstein” fragrances are made from petrochemicals and include benzene derivatives, and aldehydes as well as other known toxins.

Cancer and brain damage not enough? What about lead? Prior to 2003 when they were banned, candles contained lead-core wicks which released 5 times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for OUTDOOR air. (source) Candles manufactured in America have to abide by this ban, but imported candles may still cause lead problems.

On the whole, yummy candles create indoor air pollution for you and your family that can lead to or exacerbate allergies, asthma, infertility/birth defects, central nervous system disorders, brain damage, and so much more. Isn’t that a little extreme you may ask. Possibly, but according to, “The American EPA statistics show that women working at home have a 55 per cent increased risk of cancer over those who work away from home!”. If you can decrease that rate even slightly by using a safe alternative to candles, wouldn’t you want to?

What’s an addicted mama to do in order to relax? Here are some alternatives!

Beeswax candles can positively charge your home by there ion reaction with negative ions. They are also clean burning but you’ll want to read your labels as not all candles are marketed as they really are.

My favorite alternative is an essential oil diffuser. Not only do you get the delicious scent of anything you choose, you get the health BENEFITS rather than impairments of that essential oil.  To learn more about a diffuser, click here. No you don’t get the relaxing ambiance of flickering light, but you can get some LED tea lights, or have a beeswax candle on hand.

Home Diffuser

I know some of you will bring up soy candles which are a much better alternative, but I have a host of issues with soy.  We just won’t go there this time 😉 .

Next week we’ll discuss some plants that can help you rid your home of indoor air pollution!


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