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Are scented candles bad for your health? 6 Candle Myths Debunked!

Have you ever walked into a room filled with the sweet smell of scented candles burning, and wondered if what you’re breathing in may not be good for you? You're not alone! Many people are asking the same question.

As someone who loves burning candles at home, I've wondered about the potential risks associated with their use. I've heard various myths surrounding scented candles, such as that they release harmful chemicals into the air or that they can cause respiratory problems. With all the confusing information out there, it's hard to know what to believe. However, after doing some research and speaking with our experts, I've learned that many of the common beliefs about scented candles are actually just myths.

In this article, we'll explore six of the most common myths about scented candles. By the end, you'll have a better understanding of the facts, so you can continue to enjoy the cozy ambiance and delightful scents of your favorite candles without worrying about any harmful health impacts.

Myth #1: Candle soot is harmful

Candle soot, often seen as a dark residue left behind after burning candles, is often misunderstood as harmful or detrimental to health. However, it is important to note that candle soot, in general, does not pose health risks under normal usage conditions. candle soot is harmful

While it is true that candle soot contains trace amounts of carbon-based particles, these particles are typically of a larger size and do not penetrate into the respiratory system. The potential health concerns associated with soot are more relevant to industrial or environmental exposure over prolonged periods. 

In a typical household setting, exposure to candle soot does not present a significant risk to human health. It is worth mentioning that using plant based, high-quality candles, trimming the wick regularly, and ensuring proper ventilation can further minimize any potential soot-related concerns.

Myth #2: You should burn your candle until there is no wax left

Burning candles until there is no wax left can be dangerous for a few reasons. First and foremost, it can pose a fire hazard. When the flame nears the bottom of the candle, the heat can intensify and reach the container or surface it's placed on, potentially causing a fire. 

Additionally, as the flame gets closer to the bottom, the heat can damage the container, making it more susceptible to cracking or shattering. This can be dangerous, as hot wax and broken glass can cause burns or injuries. broken candle glass

Burning candles until there is no wax left can also lead to inefficient use of the candle. The wick may become difficult to ignite or maintain, resulting in a weak or unstable flame. This can diminish the overall quality of the candle's scent. We recommend extinguishing your candles when there is approximately 1/2 inch of wax remaining to ensure safety and get the most out of the candle's performance.repurposed candle

Once you reach that last bit of wax, feel free to pop it out and re-purpose our vessel in many ways - check out our how to guide in our wellness journal for more info!

Myth #3: Unscented candles are safer than scented candles

Scented candles, when used properly, are just as safe as unscented candles. The safety of scented candles primarily depends on the quality of the ingredients and the adherence to proper usage guidelines. Luxury candle manufacturers often use high-quality fragrance oils or essential oils to scent their candles which are not harmful at all. Essential oils are derived from natural plant sources and are commonly used to add fragrance to candles. These oils are typically blended with a carrier oil to ensure safe and consistent scent throw.essential oils

When it comes to safety, it is essential to choose candles from trusted brands that prioritize using safe fragrance ingredients. Quality scented candles are formulated to emit a controlled and safe amount of VOCs when burned. However, it is still important to follow recommended usage instructions, such as not burning candles for extended periods or in poorly ventilated areas.

Using essential oils to scent candles is a popular choice due to their natural origins and pleasing aromas. Essential oils are extracted from plants through various methods, such as steam distillation or cold-pressing, and can provide a wide range of scents. These oils are often added to the candle wax during the manufacturing process, white lets the scent disperse as the candle burns.

It's worth noting that some of us may be sensitive or allergic to certain scents. If you have known sensitivities or allergies, it's recommended to carefully review the ingredient list or request a scent tester before burning scented candles. 

Myth #4: All candle wicks contain lead

The misconception that candle wicks contain lead may stem from older candle-making practices where lead-core wicks were used. However, in modern candle production, lead-core wicks have been phased out due to safety concerns. Candle wicks today are primarily made from wood, cotton, or paper, which are all safe materials.wood wicks

Wood wicks have gained popularity as an alternative to traditional cotton wicks. They are typically made from natural wood, such as maple, cherry, or cedar, and offer a unique aesthetic and crackling sound while burning. One advantage of wood wicks is that they are free from lead or any other harmful substances that could potentially be found in cotton wicks. This makes wood wicks the safest choice for candle enthusiasts.

Moreover, wood wicks are designed to provide an even burn and minimize the formation of carbon buildup or "mushrooming" seen in some cotton wicks. This can result in a cleaner and more efficient burning experience. However, it's important to note that even though wood wicks are generally safe, it is still crucial to buy candles from manufacturers who prioritize using quality materials.

Bottom line, the concern about lead in candle wicks is largely outdated, as lead-core wicks are no longer commonly used. Both cotton and wood wicks, when produced by reputable manufacturers, can be considered safe options. Wood wicks offer the additional benefit of a unique burning experience, but regardless of the type of wick, it is always recommended to follow proper candle usage and safety guidelines for a worry-free enjoyment of candles.

Myth #5: Freezing candles keeps them from going bad

Freezing candles does not have any significant impact on their lifespan or quality. In fact, subjecting candles to extremely low temperatures can potentially cause more harm than good.

Scented candles are typically made from a combination of wax, a wick, and, fragrance or essential oils. Freezing candles can lead to changes in the wax's texture and consistency. When exposed to freezing temperatures, the wax may contract and become more brittle. As a result, the candle may crack or break, rendering it unusable. 

To maximize the lifespan of your candles, it is generally recommended to store them in a relatively cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This helps to preserve the candle's integrity and prevent color fading or scent degradation. We also advise that you use candles within their recommended time frame, as they are not meant to last indefinitely.

cozy candle in a blanket

Overall, freezing candles does not prevent them from going bad or extend their lifespan. Proper storage and usage practices, along with choosing high-quality candles, are more effective in maintaining the longevity and quality of your candle collection.

Myth #6: All soy candles have no soot or smoke

Soy candles have gained popularity as a more environmentally friendly and cleaner-burning alternative to traditional paraffin candles. While soy candles are known for producing much less soot and smoke compared to paraffin candles, it is important to note that they are not completely free from these byproducts. However, the amount of soot or smoke generated by soy candles is minimal and significantly reduced compared to other types of candles.

Soy candles are made from soybean oil, which is a natural and renewable resource. When burned properly, soy candles tend to have a cleaner and more even burn, resulting in low soot production. The lower soot content can help minimize indoor air pollution and prevent the buildup of residue on walls or surrounding surfaces. candle making

It is worth mentioning that factors such as wick quality, candle composition, and burning conditions can affect the amount of soot or smoke produced by any candle, including soy candles. To further minimize soot or smoke, it is recommended to trim the wick to the appropriate length before each use and ensure proper candle maintenance.

While soy candles are considered a clean option, it is important to maintain realistic expectations. In rare cases, improper usage or a poorly manufactured soy candle may still produce some soot or smoke. However, with high-quality soy candles and proper care, the amount produced is typically very minimal and does not pose health or environmental concerns.

Candle Terminology You Might Not Know

If you are new to the candle community, there might be some terms you have heard people use that are actually very simple! Here are a few of them:

  • Hot/Cold Scent throw: Hot scent throw refers to how strong and spread out the smell of a lit candle is. It's the scent you notice when the candle is burning. Cold scent throw is the smell of the candle when it's not lit and the wax is hard. Both hot and cold scent throw are important when picking a scented candle because they affect how strong and noticeable the smell will be in different situations.
  • Tunneling: Tunneling happens when a candle burns in a narrow tunnel instead of melting the wax evenly. This leaves unused wax along the edges, which ends up going to waste if not reused.
  • Burn Time: Burn time refers to how long a candle can be lit before it is used up. It is the estimated length of time the candle will last from start to finish. Factors like candle size, wax type, wick quality, and burning conditions can affect the burn time.
  • Fragrance Notes
    • Top notes are the initial impressions of a fragrance and are usually the first scents you detect when you smell it. These notes are light, fresh, and tend to evaporate quickly. They create the first impression of the fragrance and typically include citrusy, herbal, or fruity aromas.
    • Middle notes emerge after the top notes have evaporated. They form the main body of the fragrance and provide a harmonious transition from the initial scent to the base notes. Middle notes are often floral, spicy, or fruity, and they add complexity and depth to the fragrance.
    • Base notes are the foundation of the fragrance and linger the longest on the skin. They are typically rich, deep, and heavy, providing a solid and long-lasting presence. Base notes help to stabilize the fragrance and include scents such as woods, musks, vanilla, or amber.

top middle and base notes in fragrance

Together, the combination of top, middle, and base notes creates the overall scent profile and development of a fragrance, with each note playing a crucial role in the olfactory experience.

Ensuring that you are informed is essential to promote a well-rounded understanding of the candle world. By providing accurate and reliable information, we aim to empower you to make informed decisions and form your own opinions. We strive to present a balanced perspective, drawing upon current knowledge and research. 

It is our commitment to offer valuable insights while acknowledging that knowledge is constantly evolving. By being transparent and providing context, we encourage critical thinking and an open-minded approach to information.

We hope you learned something from this entry today  - feel free to check out our other tips and advice in the Wellness Journal!