Are candles bad for you: Or for the environment? Do they contain toxins?

We all love fragrances. These fragrances come in different varieties and kinds including, room sprays, incense sticks, and even candles – giving a refreshing sensation – but have you ever thought that the scented candles you love, may also trigger health risks?

Your health may be in danger if you have

  • Lead-core wicks
  • Paraffin wax
  • Synthetic fragrances 

in your bedroom or on your dining table.

That made me think, are candles bad for you?

It makes sense when people suffering from allergy or asthma interact with any scent, they can get affected. And those who are sensitive to chemicals can also be affected by exposure to harmful scents.

Keep reading to know how scented candles are made, and how they can affect your health.

How candles are made?

The scented candles are made from paraffin wax. Do you know where paraffin wax comes from? It’s a product made from petroleum waste and then bleached to give it a clear form. This is the reason behind the emission of highly toxic carcinogens when it is burned.

Moreover, when petro-soot fumes are released from the candles, they contain the same chemicals that are found in diesel fumes. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in 2001 that continuous exposure to paraffin candles can affect a person with harmful toxins, thereby elevating the risk of confronting health issues.

Are our candle wicks toxic too?

The candle wicks are also a source of contamination. In the United States, candle wicks are thought to be made only from paper or cotton, but wicks made from lead-core can also be seen and found in many areas.

These candles with lead-core wicks, tend to emit five times more lead fumes than paraffin wax candles. This is the reason why they are considered hazardous for everyone.

The wax candles are also contributing to air pollution, by releasing toxins, so you don’t need to get the chemicals impurities through a scented candle.

The scented candles are usually made from phthalates. When these candles burn, phthalates are released into the air. These phthalates can be absorbed through the skin and can be inhaled as well. Once that happens, these toxic fumes trigger allergic and asthmatic symptoms among the people.

Are all candles toxic?

The short answer to this question is NO. Not every candle contains toxic chemicals – especially the ones made by utilizing renewable resources, such as the Soy wax candles.

The soy wax candles are safe and a great replacement for toxic candles. The essential element of soy wax makes the candle last longer than the paraffin wax candles, while producing significantly fewer fumes than a paraffin wax candle.

Another option is to opt for beeswax candles. A beeswax candle releases negative ions that eventually help in cleaning the environmental pollens, viruses, and bacteria – when they are burnt.

Some branded candle makers utilize vegetable oils and other natural minerals to produce candle wax containing less to no toxic materials.

A high street candle maker Jo Malone uses natural fragrances – taken from flowers and plants – to make scented candles but they come with a heavy price tag.

How to avoid toxic candles?

It is obvious that we all love the warm, soothing candle glow at our dinner table.  But the question is: how we can avoid toxic candles?

You must opt for candles that are: 

  • made from natural ingredients like soy and beeswax
  • unscented
  • contain paper or cotton wick.


Candles are bad for your health, and you may have found the reason why! However, there is no research found regarding the toxicity of the candles entailing health issues. But exposure to any kind of fumes can be injurious to health.

To get the ample essence of candle scents, try lighting them in a ventilated room to minimize the number of chemicals that can be inhaled. Also, keep your candles away from objects that can absorb toxic fumes such as tissues, boxes, towels, soaps, etc.

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