By: Alexis Atkins
Whether you are in the mood to do some spring cleaning or looking to have a little self-care time, lighting your favorite candle is often the first step. Not only do candles cleanse the air, but they set the tone for peaceful energy in your space.
But did you know that your favorite candle might actually be causing you more harm than good?
That’s right, your favorite scented candle could be emitting harmful chemicals into your home without you even knowing it.
Let’s discuss the differences between traditional candles, commonly found in stores, and the more eco-conscious soy-based candles.
What’s in a Traditional Candle?
Traditional candles are typically made with paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is a by-product of petroleum. Specifically, this wax is produced when crude oil (also known as fossil fuel) is being refined into gasoline. Yes, the same gasoline that we use to fuel our cars!
If that isn’t scary enough, a team of researchers at South Carolina State University examined the potential effects of petroleum-based candles (paraffin candles) to vegetable-based candles (soy candles) and found some shocking results. In their testing, the paraffin wax candles were shown to emit extremely toxic chemicals like benzene and toluene. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continued exposure to benzene can cause harm to bone marrow, decrease red blood cells and even cause irregular menstrual cycles. In addition, long-term exposure to toluene can lead to brain and nervous system issues including memory loss, dizziness, vision loss and loss of hearing.
Aside from the chemicals mentioned, the toxins emitted from petroleum-based candles have been linked to allergic reactions and asthma-like symptoms.
I think it goes without saying that none of this sounds the least bit relaxing, but luckily there are non-toxic alternatives to the traditional scented candles.
What’s in a Soy Candle
Soy candles consist of a vegetable-based wax derived from soybean oil. Unlike paraffin wax, soy wax is considered a renewable ingredient because it can be replanted time and time again. This makes soy wax candles more eco-friendly than traditional candles.
Benefits of Soy Candles
- It’s Non-Toxic: Soy wax is naturally produced by growing soybeans. This is crucial to consider given the fact that candle fumes are often something that we breathe in for long periods of time.
- It’s Stain-Free: Soy wax is less likely to stain your home décor or clothing because it doesn’t produce that gross black soot that traditional candles make around the rim of the candle jar.
- It’s Cheaper: Soy-based candles are more cost-effective because the soy wax burns more evenly allowing it to burn up to 50% longer than a paraffin wax candle of the same size.
- It Smells Better: Because soy wax is a cleaner form of wax, the essential oils are able to perfume the candle better so that we get to experience a bolder and longer-lasting scent.
- It’s Kid-Friendly: Whether you have kids or are planning for kids, the natural properties of soy wax candles are the better health choice for both you and your baby.
What To Look For When Shopping For Candles
When shopping for non-toxic candles, it’s important to stick to the ones that are transparent about their ingredients. Many companies don’t even list what is in their candles. This is a sneaky indication that their candles are probably filled with synthetic and artificial fragrances that can cause everything from skin irritations to migraines.
You wouldn’t eat anything without knowing what was in it, so why would you breathe in something without knowing what’s in it?
Check the labels for keywords like “soy wax” and “essential oils” to ensure that you are purchasing the right natural candle for your space.
One of my favorite soy candles is NaturalAnnie Essentials Cranberry Spice Candle. This candle is 100% vegan, 100% eco-friendly, and 100% recyclable. And did I mention that this candle smells divine?! NaturalAnnie Essentials candles are scented with oil blends so each candle has a strong concentrated aroma that doesn't disappear when burned.
Next, double-check that the candle wicks are lead-free. Although lead candle wicks have been banned in the U.S. since 2003, some less expensive brands may have some traces of lead or metal in their wicks that release toxic and potentially carcinogenic fumes.
In place of lead-based wicks, companies have turned to cotton wicks or use wooden wicks like Goodnight Darling’s all-natural hand-poured soy wax candle. Aside from not emitting toxic chemicals, wooden wicks produce a soothing crackle and can be ethically sourced from natural resources.
Last but not least, research the brand and verify that their values align with yours. Nothing makes a candle feel more cherished than knowing that its artisan is dedicated to improving the overall quality of our lives through high-quality natural products.
Christina Arenas, the artisan behind Blue Sage Eco Boutique, created the brand to promote personal growth, peace, and prosperity. Not only is she passionate about the environment and reducing environmental impact, she also encourages those around her to embrace clean living. Blue Sage Eco Boutique candles are made with an all-natural soy wax and an essential oil blend.
Burning candles are more than just aesthetics. For years they have been used as tools to cleanse, purify and bring light into our spaces. With a purchase so intimate, it’s important that we go the extra mile to shop smart and choose products that limit the number of unnecessary chemicals in our homes.
How do you detoxify your home? Share it with us in the comments below!