Ah, scented candles. I remember the days when I’d stroll past a store full of them and stuff my nose deep into these colorful object. “This one smells like vanilla! This one is cake batter! Oh my goodness, cookie dough!!” I’d linger in the synthetic fragrances and feel all cozy inside.
Funny how things change.
These days, I’m a little more in tune to my body and I can always tell when there’s a scented candle in my proximity. How? I get a headache, almost instantly.
The truth is a lot of homes have scented candles lurking about somewhere. And for some home, that wafting smell can always be found greeting you the moment you walk in the house.
So yeah, scented candles are pretty popular. Think about it – how many times have you been gifted a candle? They make for an easy gift! Candles have been around for some time as one of the easiest ways to mask unpleasant odors. People use them for creating that relaxing vibe while taking a hot bubble bath or to bring a bit of romance to a meal. I know I have received my fair share of scented candles for gifts (and still do to this day).
But are scented candles really all that wonderful?
The simple answer is no.
The unfortunate truth is that most of these scented candles come with a high toxin load. My body knows it. The headache comes almost instantly. That’s why you won’t find them in my house, and why I secretly cringe every time I come across a scented candle outside my house.
That’s the sad news. But the good news is that there are lots of great options for giving your home a special scent that won’t hurt your body. More on that in a bit.
First, let’s talk about the bad – starting with the wick.
Toxic Candle Wicks
While candle wicks are supposed to be made of cotton or paper, there have been many studies that have found as much as 30% of candles contain heavy metals in the wicks to make the wicks firmer. These heavy metals include lead. Yes, lead. People are burning lead in their homes, in closed areas, around kids and pets. And what bothers me most is that these aren’t people who trying to do anything bad. These are people who are doing the best they can to make their home a little more homier. The fact that candle companies are promoting these toxic products with the “air” (no pun intended) of it making your home a cozier, better place is upsetting.
It’s not cool, candle companies. Not cool at all.
Candles with leads wick release five times the amount of lead that is considered hazardous for children. FIVE TIMES. While lead wicks have been banned since 2003 there are still countless candles out there being burned with lead wicks. (Um, WHY?)
Pretty scary right?
Sadly, the bad news about scented candles doesn’t stop there. Even if you have gotten rid of all your candles that had lead wicks these candles are still not safe due to the wax that is being used.
Scented Candles = More Indoor Air Pollution
Scented candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution. They actually put off a lot of dangerous chemicals. How dangerous? Well, in some instances, as dangerous as second-hand smoke. That’s due to the fact that most scented candles are made of paraffin wax. This paraffin wax emits numerous types of hazardous chemicals such as benzene and toluene. Just these two chemicals can cause damage to the brain, lung, and central nervous system.
Let me break it down in another way.
Ever get a sniff of diesel fuel fumes and get an instant headache? (*Raises hand*)
Well, the toxins released from paraffin candles are the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes. Add in the artificial scents and dyes and you are adding even more chemicals to the air when you burn these candles. Chemicals like Acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Styrene, Xylene, Cresol, Cyclopentene, to name a few.
Some of these toxins are found in things like varnish remover, paint, and lacquer. Yummy. Why haven’t they created the “varnish remover” scented candle yet? Maybe because people don’t want to smell that stuff?
Those scented candles aren’t smelling to great anymore, are they?
What’s worse is that these candles can be found everywhere. Stores, homes, and even preschools! We are burning these harsh scary and super toxic chemicals just about anywhere and everywhere. They make look harmless – but these little things are giving out a lot of scary stuff. Like… a lot.
Again, this isn’t about shaming the people using these candles. I don’t blame the user. I blame the provider. It’s about education so we can better choices for our families. When people buy these products they think they’re doing something to make their home better, but unfortunately it’s doing much more harm than good.
Now I know what you are feeling. Trust me. I’ve been there too. I didn’t want to give up my candles. I wanted to crawl back into my blissful hole of not knowing the truth. I liked candles. I liked trying out new scents. I loved adding them to a hot bath at the end of the day. They were fun and easy and pretty!
But I couldn’t hide from the truth once I found it out. I knew I had to get rid of my candles and never burn them again.
But never fear – there are plenty of great alternatives to scented candles!
Here are some of our better solutions to happy, clean air.
Four Clean Alternatives to Toxic Scented Candles
1. Diffuse Essential Oils
There are some amazing benefits to essential oils, but even if you don’t want to get into the depth that they can bring to your health there is one simple truth about essential oils: They smell fantastic.
Instead of spreading toxins in the air, when you diffuse oils you’ll be basically doing the opposite. Oils help promote good health – physical and mental. Plus oils can help actually eliminate odors rather than just masking them.
With essential oils you get to customize your scents to your needs and wants. Whether you are stressed, tired, or just wanted a yummy scent in your home – essential oils can help you get there. Some of my favorites to use include orange, grapefruit, Stress Away, and Thieves.
Just make sure that you are using pure, excellent quality oils. You can find what I recommend here.
2. Make your own fragrant simmering potpourri
Anytime I really want my home to smell amazing this is my go to. There is nothing that smells quite like your own simmering potpourri! This is a holiday favorite. It’s the smell of Christmas. So yummy and comforting.
What’s great about making your own fragrant simmering potpourri is that it’s super easy to do. It’s made with all natural and real ingredient, and you don’t have to worry about any harsh chemicals! Plus you can make such a wide variety of recipes!
Here are some great recipes to get you started on making your home smell amazing.
3. Open the windows for fresh air
This seems to be one that many people forget about as an option but it is the most cost effect solution. Plus, it’s so easy solution! Obviously this may depend on what season you are in but even in the middle of winter, opening the windows for just a few minutes can clear any lingering smells and make your home feel fresh and clean! (I’d just recommend turning off the Heat/AC so you don’t waste that energy.) No chemicals, no ingredients, no purchases necessary.
In fact, whether you’re into scented candles or not, I highly recommend getting into the daily habit of opening your windows for 10 – 15 minutes each day to clean out your indoor air. Did you know that indoor air pollution is WAY worse than outdoor air pollution? (In most instances, in most places around the world.)
4. Beeswax Candles
If you love that flickering light and the vibe you get from candles then buying 100 percent beeswax candles with cotton wicks can be your solution. These are free of toxins and all the other scary stuff found in your traditional commercial candles.
But be sure to find ones that say 100 percent beeswax as many candles that state they are beeswax candles are really a mixture of beeswax and paraffin wax. You can also learn how to make your own here.
Say “Goodbye” to Toxic Scented Candles, Say “Hello” to Clean Air
Now is the time – cut yourself off from toxic scented candles for good! It’s such a simple way to decrease the toxin load in your home and thank your body with a healthy new habit. Once you try these simple alternatives you’ll never look back.
Tell me, what is your favorite way to bring fresh scents into the home?