The Secret Cost of Enjoying a Scented Candle (And Its Health Implications)

Scented candles have had some bad press, but are the hazards true for all candles?

Paraffin candles pose a very real problem. Paraffin is a chemically bleached petroleum waste product. When the paraffin melts, highly toxic benzene and toluene, both known carcinogens, are released into the atmosphere. Did you know that the soot released from paraffin candles are the same as those found in diesel fumes? These fumes can be as dangerous as passive smoking.

Be sure to only use candles that are made from natural waxes, such as soy, beeswax, rapeseed wax and palm wax. Don’t assume that expensive candles are high quality and natural: some well-known brands ask top dollar for candles made of paraffin wax. If it doesn’t say NATURAL wax, it probably isn’t. Lily Gilded candles are made of 100% natural soy wax from sustainable sources. 

Check what type of wick is being used. Candle wicks, just like synthetic waxes, can be a source of toxins in scented candles. Lead-core wicks release up to five times the levels of lead that are considered to be a health hazard. The candle doesn’t even have to be lit to be dangerous: impurities from an uncovered candle can be released into the air and harmful chemicals can be absorbed through the skin by just touching the candle. Lily Gilded candles use wicks made from cotton entwined with a thread of paper. The core of this wick has a supportive external jacket which is designed to eliminate sooting and minimise mushrooming. 

Fragrance Oil vs Essential Oil

One would assume that, as we are using pure natural waxes and cotton wicks, that the natural choice for adding fragrance to our candles would be essential oils, right?

Lily Gilded do not use essential oils in our candles for the following reasons: While conducting tests with essential oils as a scenting agent in our candles, we have found that it has a good scent throw before being lit, but once it starts to burn, the perfume quality is almost imperceptible. Essential oils are just not compatible in candle-making.

Furthermore, essential oils have a relatively low flashpoint, meaning it can combust when exposed to an open flame or even a spark, creating a fire hazard.

In light of these facts, we are happy to use specially formulated candle oils from a trusted supplier. Most of the fragrance oils used in Lily Gilded candles, contain no phthalates, but some do. Why do we even consider allowing these substances in our candles? Allow us to explain: Phthalates are esters of Phthalic acid. There are different types of phthalates: DEP (Diethyl Phthalate) is safe for use in candles and is used to extend the aromatic strength of the candle fragrance oil. The wicked kinds of phthalates are those typically used as plasticizers and are present in paraffin wax, which is why we at Lily Gilded are totally opposed to the use of paraffin wax in candle-making.

When selecting candles for your home, select healthy options from manufacturers who are transparent about the ingredients they use.

Remember candles have open flames and you should take precautions when lighting them:

  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Keep lighted candles away from children and pets
  • Keep the wick trimmed to 6 mm for a low flame
  • Keep candles clear of combustible materials
  • Always place candles on a heat-proof coaster

 Decorate your soul.