Many people see scented candles as a beautiful and easy way to mask unpleasant odors at home. And stores like Target and Anthropologie make soy or essential oil scented candles so people think they are not only creating a relaxing and fragrant atmosphere but that they are safe. But are they really?


“According to Anne Steinemann, an environmental pollutants expert who is a professor of civil engineering and the chair of sustainable cities at the University of Melbourne, certain candles may emit numerous types of potentially hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and toluene. They can cause damage to the brain, lung and central nervous system, as well as cause developmental difficulties.

‘I have heard from numerous people who have asthma that they can’t even go into a store if the store sells scented candles, even if they aren’t being burned,’ Steinemann added. ‘They emit so much fragrance that they can trigger asthma attacks and even migraines.’”1

Paraffin is a petroleum waste product so making candles out of paraffin wax can and does release unwanted chemicals into the air. And, even if you opt for a soy-based candle they are still processed with a small amount of paraffin so small amounts of carcinogens and toxins are still being released into the air you breathe. Not to mention that fact that nearly all soy is genetically modified.


Chemistry professor Ruhullah Massoudi said, “For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma.” 2

While it may be a surprise to hear your favorite candles could potentially be bad for you, just because you aren’t feeling an immediate reaction doesn’t mean you won’t eventually; “…for some people, the effects are ‘immediate, acute and severe,’ while others may not realize they are being effected until they gradually develop health issues.”3

The risks to you might be small but in the long run, it just isn’t worth it. Especially when there are much better alternatives- diffusing essential oils. Check out the video below:



Sources and References

  1. HuffPost, June 16, 2015.
  2. HuffPost, June 16, 2015.
  3. HuffPost, June 16, 2015.