Toxins in Candles: Sad, But True 1

Toxins in Candles: Sad, But True

There’s nothing like the gentle flicker of a candle flame, and a warm, sweet scent filling your home to evoke feelings of peace and wellness.

Except when that candle is actually filling your home with toxic chemicals and contributing to indoor air pollution

I know. I hear that sigh, and have sighed myself many times. It can be discouraging. We work so hard to eat healthy, stay fit, and rid our homes and bodies of toxins, only to find that something as simple and innocent as a pretty candle on our mantle or kitchen windowsill is actually a culprit in the war against our health and wellbeing.

Sometimes I want to stop bringing these bits of information to the surface, to take a break from being such a party pooper all the time. I want to tell you, “Go on. Enjoy that scented candle. Don’t even give it a second thought”. But I can’t.

Party pooper or not, I have such a burden to keep on sharing, and educating, and working my buns off to get the knowledge out there that all of these regular, everyday products we fill our homes and lives and bodies with are just not good for us.

I’m going to tell you why I think you need to reconsider your use of candles, but then I’m also going to share some encouraging ways to bring back those pretty scents, oh yes, and even some healthy candle options as well. Non-toxic living does NOT mean boring, un-enjoyable, avoid-everything-pleasant living, so hang with me a little while longer, won’t you, friend?

Everyone loves a nice smelling home, and candles are an easy aroma source! But did you know there are lots of toxins in candles, filling your home with more than just a nice fragrance?

Image by orange acid

What Makes Candles So Bad

  • Paraffin is the major ingredient in most conventional candles and is a sludge waste product from the petroleum industry. It releases carcinogenic chemicals when burned. The soot/fumes are similar to that released from a diesel engine and can be as dangerous as second-hand cigarette smoke. This can contribute to serious respiratory issues like asthma.
  • Scented candles may have lead or lead cores in the wick, which releases dangerous amounts of lead into your home through the candle soot. Candle wicks are supposed to be made from pure paper or cotton, but a University of Michigan study in the late 1999 found that 30% of candles in the USA still released lead into the air, in amounts higher than is considered safe by the EPA (and personally, I’m not sure that I would consider there to be a “safe” level). Legislation was passed in the USA to ban lead in wicks in 2003, but it is still present in some candles which make their way onto store shelves, particularly those that are imported (made in China or Taiwan, for example). For my fellow Canadians, there has not yet been a Canadian ban on lead in candle wicks.
  • Two particularly toxic chemicals, benzene and toluene, are found in the sooty residue from burning candles. Benzene is cancer-causing and toluene affects the central nervous system.
  • Artificial scents and colors may be irritants to some people and/or trigger allergic reactions.
  • Other toxic chemicals that may be present in the paraffin mixture and released through burning include: Acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, Cyclopentene. Some of the toxins are found in other products such as paint, laquer and varnish removers– that’s potent and powerful stuff!

Everyone loves a nice smelling home, and candles are an easy aroma source! But did you know there are lots of toxins in candles, filling your home with more than just a nice fragrance?

Image by igloo white

Tips for Avoiding the Worst Offenders

Even among conventional candles, there are some that are better (or worse) than others. Here are some tips for what to look for and what to avoid.


  • Dollar store or super-cheap candles
  • Imported candles (stick with ones that are made in North America)
  • Any candle that appears to have a metal-core wick (learn how to spot them)
  • Scented candles (unless they are naturally scented- more on this below)
  • Gel candles
  • Cheap “aromatherapy” candles, from brands like Febreeze and Glade. There is actually nothing truly therapeutic about the scents in these candles and much that is harmful.

Somewhat Better

  • Higher-end candles from reputable stores. These are more likely to have safe wicks and are less likely to use synthetic fragrances (although some still do). IKEA candles are apparently all lead-free.
  • Taper candles, as opposed to candles like tea lights and pillar candles that melt into puddles. They are less likely to contain lead.
  • Anytime you burn a regular candle, do it in an open space (ie. not a teeny tiny bathroom), with a window cracked open to allow fumes to be released.
  • If you must stick to cheaper candles and you really don’t want to stop using them entirely, keep your use very minimal, once a week at most, or preferably even less.

Everyone loves a nice smelling home, and candles are an easy aroma source! But did you know there are lots of toxins in candles, filling your home with more than just a nice fragrance?

Image by joost-ijmuiden

The Very Best Options for Candles


I ever so sadly cut out 95% of my candle use several years ago when I realized that they were toxic. Although I still find beeswax candles pricey enough that I buy and use them infrequently, they are definitely my top choice for a healthy candle option. They are absolutely pure and burn clean.

Beeswax is about as natural a product as you can find. It is simply a natural wax that is made by bees and collected from the hives by beekeepers. It has a light scent of honey, which I find extremely beautiful and soothing. They can also sometimes be found with essential oils for added scent, although they are just lovely au naturel.

Color options range between off-white, yellow (most common) and light browns (like these beauties) for un-dyed beeswax candles, but you can also find brilliantly hued candles made with non-toxic dyes. Make sure to look for 100% beeswax, as some companies will use only a portion of beeswax mixed with regular paraffin, and then label them as “beeswax candles”. This isn’t what you want. Go for the truly pure stuff.

One option that beeswax allows is the ability to easily make your own. You can purchase sheets of beeswax to roll into various types of taper and pillar candles. You can also easily melt beeswax granules into glass jars to make your own.


While I don’t recommend soy for most eating purposes, I do think that soy candles are another great option. They also burn clean, with no harmful fumes, and have very long burn times as well. 

I have a bit of a conundrum about whether I like supporting soy farming, which is the only thing that holds me back from giving soy candles my full support. Almost all soy in North America is genetically-modified, either on purpose or because it has become contaminated by nearby farms that are using GMO seed. I also wonder if a vote “yes” for soy is a bit of a vote for Monsanto, whose evils I will refrain from ranting about for the purposes of this post. All that said, I don’t think that there is any physical harm from using soy candles made from GMO soy, but I would generally prefer to put my money into supporting local beekeepers above soy farming.

As with beeswax candles, these come in a wide variety of colors and natural scents, and you do need to look for the 100% soy label as well, to avoid candles made with part soy, part paraffin. Though I haven’t tried it, you can also buy soy wax and make your own gorgeous soy and beeswax jar candles.
Everyone loves a nice smelling home, and candles are an easy aroma source! But did you know there are lots of toxins in candles, filling your home with more than just a nice fragrance?

Image by anniehp

Other Ways to Make Your Home Smell Beautiful

If it’s more about the scents than it is about burning candles for you, there are plenty of other ways to safely enjoy natural fragrances:

  • Add essential oils to your bath. Lavender is particularly relaxing.
  • Simmer homemade potpourri on your stove.
  • Use a nebulizer to enjoy both the scent and the health benefits of essential oils.
  • Make your own homemade air freshener, complete with essential oils for a light lingering fragrance.

Do you enjoy burning candles? What type of alternative options have you found?

Top image by askthepixel
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

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  1. I have to say that when I was ridding my house of all the “junk”, it never once occurred to me that candles were “junk.” Wow. I’m still in shock.
    I will be vigilant now and make sure to buy the best….and yard sale the ones I’m given that probably aren’t so hot. 🙂

  2. I love this post. However, on the sidebar is an advertisement for Yankee candles. Does that mean they are safe?

  3. I’m actually not surprised by this, although I never knew the specific toxins in the candles. I always thought it was the fragrance infused in them more than anything. My husband has bad headaches within minutes of a candle being lit, and I realized after we were married and I couldn’t burn candles that my constant sinus infections seemed to improve. Prior to our marriage I was a candle fanatic burning them daily in my bedroom at my parents house.

  4. Candles are very sneaky toxic things. For me I ditches the candles and I use Scentsy. They dont put chemicals in the air nor do they leave nasty residue on walls, carpets,or your lungs… plus they heat by a light bulb…

    Thanks for all the awesome info…

    1. Actualy, I’v found that Scentsy does leave a reside. It coats everything with a perfumy-oily film that’s nearly impossible to get rid of. I can’t get the smell of it out of my apartment. It’s worse than cigaret smoke. The chemicals in the perfume are also toxic.

      1. Thats simply not true about the perfume and the chemicals, no more than scents in any of the 100% soy or beeswax. I have 5 warmers throughout my home and they have never ever left any kind of residue. You should probably look for an alterate cause. I would never use them if that was the case. Instead, having done my research, found these to be one of the least harmful if not harmless products out there for scenting a home.

  5. I LOVE LOVE LOVE beeswax candles. I can’t say enough good things about them. They a very light scent – nothing overpowering like some candles have. I stopped burning “regular” candles a while ago because of what was presented above. I also found a local company that makes fantastic soy candles that smell amazing. Thanks for getting this information out there!

  6. I love candles too. I have been buying and burning the Aroma Naturals brand for years. They only use soy or natural vegetable wax and only essential oils for the scents. I definitely notice a difference when we buy and burn something else. Just can’t tolerate the unnatural candle for very long. We belong to a food buying club that orders from Frontier. I frequently buy their candles when they are on sale, they are affordable and make great gifts.

  7. Thank you so much for this article. I have heard people talk about how great soy candles are but never knew why. I just started buying soy candles from someone I know in the last year or so. I was very impressed with how great they worked and how long lasting they were. I didn’t know the other reasons they were so much better. I am wondering about Yankee Candles too now. 🙂

  8. What about Scentsy? Do you know if they are harmful? My mother-in-law gave me a couple, and I absolutely LOVE them!

  9. I have been making my own soy candles for a couple of years. Well, I have been trying…LOL! Soy is a really hard wax to work with. Sometimes the wick burns out. I love burning candles in my fireplace..just for the glow. But, I have to say your post has been very informative about toxic scents.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. Thanks for this article! I threw out all my candles a few months ago for these reasons. And I LOVED candles. I bought a Scentsy burner and wax because they say they are safer – but I cannot find any info on if they really are. They don’t post their ingredients. Do you know if they are OK?

  11. Since I’ve gotten rid of my candles I use my essential oil diffuser. I use only 100% Theraputic grade essential oils and it distributes the oil into the air, acting as an air freshener and also giving you the health benefit of inhaling the different oils. You can order them from As always, thank you for the great articles!

  12. We really rarely burn candles…I don’t really know why…I just don’t think about it except around the holidays. Then, we have some Yankee candles, and I’m betting they are bad! Will be sticking to your suggestions for all future purchases!

    I do love using essential oils to create pretty smells. We’ve actually been using homemade thieves oil spray this week b/c we STILL can’t seem to kick this bug out of our house….and I think it smells lovely! (AND it’s non-toxic!!)

  13. I looked at candles today at Shop Rite. One candle said fragranced with essential oils and a soy wax blend. The other candle I considered said 100% soy wax but didn’t comment about the fragrance they used. No candle lists the ingredients.

  14. what are your thoughts about wickless candles ( in know they sell at walmart and thru companies like scentsy…e tc….. do they follow the same guidelines?

  15. I gave away or donated my whole candle collection. Let me just say that I had WAY too much. Worked at a craft store for 10 yrs so you can only imagine.
    After Christmas I hit up my local natural stores and bought as much beeswax, soy and coconut oil candles as I could afford. I also find them in thrift shops for cheap. Now I use them only when needed (once a week or so). I live in a old home with a fireplace so it smells old n stuff at times.
    I have noticed my allergies are not as bad anymore! Great post!

  16. Thanks so much for this article. I assumed popular candles were bad since they contain synthetic fragrances but this was just the information I was looking for about better alternatives. Natural beeswax candles sound awesome! I, too, would prefer them over soy for the reasons you gave.

    I don’t trust Scentsy and I can’t stand their smells. The fragrances just smell artificial like other candles, and they look like they are filled with artificial dyes, too. I can’t find any list of their ingredients anywhere.

  17. I stopped burning candles a long time ago because I developed a sensitivity to fragrances as I got older. Now I have kids and I’m be afraid to burn even natural candles. I love the look of candles though. I have a bunch of the fake battery operated candles. They actually look really nice and flicker somewhat realistically. They have a slight vanilla scent when you smell them up close, but not enough to really offgas into the air.

  18. I stopped burning candles a long time ago because I developed a sensitivity to fragrances. Now I have kids and I’m afraid to burn even natural candles. I have a bunch of fake battery operated candles that actually look pretty nice. They have a realistic flicker and are made of wax, like regular candles, but nothing is actually burning. There is something really beautiful about real flames though.

  19. We had been using essentials oils with a diffuser to scent our home but have stopped since someone pointed out that they can be toxic to our family cat.

    Hyrdosols are ok to us with cats in the home, but are harder to come by than essential oils. Just posting this as a precaution to those who live with feline friends.

    Love beeswax candles but they are pretty expensive so we save them for special times only.

  20. I’ve been thinking about his lately, so thanks for the info. I don’t burn candles often, but I still would like them to burn cleanly especially with two people with allergies. What should we look for when buying essential oils? I’m hoping to find an evergreen scented one. 🙂

  21. Scentsy is perfectly safe they use the same wax that is put on fruits like apples and since there is nothing actually burning you loose the carbon monoxide and other toxins that normal candles put in the air. The only thing actually being put in the air is the smell and you discard the wax when done. They have over 80 scents to choose from so there is bound to be something you will enjoy I know I do. Thank you for this informative article.

    1. Thank you for adding this…I burn scetsy all the time but after reading the article was nervous on using them!

      1. The paraffin in Scentsy products may be ‘food grade’ but the products are far from non-toxic. The chemicals/VOC’s in artificial scents and fragrances are pretty nasty. (there’s a reason why manufacturers refuse to list the ingredients in their fragrances.) I know several people (myself included) who have had bad reactions from Scentsy products, ranging from headaches to asthma. Sorry.

  22. While my husband was in the marine corps,I used to burn yankie candles everyday. That was untill the matancie man was changing our filters and asked I burned candels. He then showed me what it looked like and it made me sick. He told me that candles leave more on the filters than cigarettes. havent used a bad candle in my house since that day.

  23. We rarely burn candles because I am very paranoid about open flames and forgetting one is lit. Instead I love to simmer natural ingredients on the stove. It also helps to add some humidity to the house during our cold, dry months.

  24. I need to be more careful about the candles I buy. I’ve cut out almost all of them, except for a few tapers that we like to use when we’re feeling fancy at dinner time. :o)

    Something I use that I haven’t seen mentioned yet, is a ceramic lamp ring. Just a few drops of essential oil in it plus the heat of the lamp makes the room smell very nice. Although, it doesn’t seem to last long. I usually just use it when I’m expecting company.

  25. I love candles and burned Yankee candles for years. After getting married, my husband couldn’t take them, so I had to quit. BUT, then I found some gourmet scented candles made with vegetable (palm) wax. I tried them, they didn’t bother him and now that’s all I burn (unless I use the candle warmers with the melts). When I’ve gone to fairs and such and spoken to people about our candles, I’ve heard horror stories about soot and such. Ours are clean-burning and I know people with allergies and birds that burn them with no problem. So, it really DOES depend on the type of wax and wicks, plus the quality of the scents that are used, even if they are synthetic. You can read more about them here:

  26. Evening,
    This is a great post. I wanted to share with you that I am an organic beekeeper and do not follow the current ways of raising bees. Unfortunately beeswax is filled with toxic chemicals. One of the reasons that the bees are dying is due to all the spraying of chems into the hive to kill mites. The toxins then get stored into the wax and sometimes the honey. Sad but true.In addition bees are used all the time in orchards that have just been sprayed for disease ect. After attending beeschool and being taught to spray the bees with many different chems we made up our minds to raise the bees in a different way.

      1. Hi Stephanie,
        In the bee industry there are not many regs for being organic, and it is a complex question. Bees can fly 8 miles though most think they can only fly 5. In order to avoid all toxins ,and to be truly organic they must be set in the middle of an eight mile radius. Bees are very social creatures and visit all kinds of field and flowers…the sprayed and not sprayed. GMO and non GMO It would be best to find someone local to you and find out what their philosophy of raising bees are. For us we keep clean hives and can only hope the bees are visiting clean flowers. If they hit an orchard that has just been sprayed they will carry the toxins back to the hive.I pray… and hope for the best . But I put no chems in there myself.

        1. Wow. VERY interesting. So sad that we have made it so hard to find any clean products, even things we presume are so simple!

  27. I love burning candles-it is so relaxing! I’ve found that you can get beeswax candles through the co-op we use (Azure Standard) and they really aren’t terribly expensive that way.

  28. I had no idea that paraffin was a waste product of petroleum processing! It’s in/on food-figures!

    I wasn’t interested in soy candles simply because I avoid soy in my diet. I wasn’t aware that it doesn’t affect our health by simpy burning it, but I totally agree with NOT supporting soy production.

    How about old fashioned tallow candles-homemade?

  29. wanted to say thank you for providing this information! don’t think you are a party pooper. I’ve learned so much from you, it’s just a blessing to me! mandey

  30. I haven’t burned a candle in years!! I find the scents offensive and with a child on the autism spectrum, getting rid of candles seemed like an easy way to clean the air at home…makes complete sense to me!! Now I attempt to do a scent free household and feel better because of it!! Thanks for sharing this info!!

  31. And I was wondering about my headaches and teary eyes whenever candles were burned… Especially red ones. Those apple cinnamon ones. Eek! I can’t even have them in the same room with me UNLIT!
    Thank you!! This makes so much sense now. I thought there was something wrong with ME!! Guess it’s just the candles.

  32. Acetone – naturally produced by the body
    2-Butanone – naturally occurs in beer
    Xylene – not very toxic, and esp not in the quantities given off in a candle. The two additional methyl groups make it much less reactive than benzene.
    Phenol – used over-the-counter as a throat analgesic.

    Seriously, the toxic compounds created by a candle are miniscule, and it is ALL about the dose.

    Please pay attention to the real issues in life, not non-issues like this.

    1. My Science teacher said about the same thing. When I do consider all the danger in the air especially on our bodies, it makes me wonder if maybe I should research more on these candles or accept the good with the bad here on earth.

    2. Ben, you’ve obviously never been in some of my friends’ homes, where the “minuscule amounts” let off by one candle accumulate from being burned daily, often several strong, in little rooms!! Anything in moderation is fine, right? But only in moderation…

      1. Moderation only matters when you aren’t killing people. I have asthma and my son has respritory issues that are seriously aggrivated by paraffin wax and fragrance oils. It’s not exactly a non issue when you wake up in a hospital after having been technically dead for 5 minutes because of an asthma attack brought on by cheap candles. I can’t even go to craft shows without an inhaler. People seem to think that just because it doesn’t affect them it isn’t important, but as one of the MILLIONS of americans who struggle with just being able to breathe when you leave your house or when you neighbors cheap candle scent invades your home it is NOT a nonissue.

  33. I’ve been following your blog for homemade cleaners for a couple weeks now and was just thinking about homemade air fresheners (um, soiled cloth diapers sure do spread).
    But after reading your post I feel like I use candles much less that most. The recommendation to burn it once a week or less is even more than my typical candle use. Which makes me realize the best alternative… OPEN THE WINDOWS!!! 🙂 I’m sure most reading the blog so that by now, but it is so wonderful to have fresh air flowing throughout every room in the house! My family is fortunate enough to not have horrible seasonal allergies and be able to tolerate a 60 degree house during the day even – colder at night, so our windows are open often.

  34. Any knowledge on whether soy candles would cause problems for folks with a soy allergy? What about an intolerance?

    Also, I’ve been told that the PartyLite candles are completely non-toxic, to the point of being edible (as several toddlers have proven, lol)… do you know if they are better than most?

    I did try to roast a marshmallow over a scented candle in my youth… not only did the marshmallow emerge green (the color of the candle), but it tasted absolutely vile! We had a good laugh and I never tried that again!

  35. My husband is a farmer. Most of the time they grow soybeans for fertilizer. They make what money they can from the soybeans and then till the rest of the plants under for their precious fertilizer. Your right, most growers couldn’t care less about GMO’s or pretty much anything else that would mess with their bottom line. I think beeswax candles would be the way to go for a while. For most farmers (for now) profit is much more important than ethics

  36. I am a consultant with Scentsy. I stopped using regular candles as a safety precaution for my kids, regarding the flame. I truly had no idea about the other dangers until recently. As a Mom, not a consultant, I do feel good using the Scentsy warmers/wax because I know that the chemicals are not burning in the air, so the soot and lead dangers are not present. Here is something I copied from our website…..
    Although vegetable or soy-based waxes can produce a quality wicked candle, they don’t produce a quality wickless candle. To make a quality wickless candle, Scentsy uses a custom paraffin wax blend for it its superior scent loading capability to provide the best customer experience possible. Because the wax is warmed—not burned as in the case of a traditional candle’s combustion process—no harmful chemicals or pollutants are released into the air. With Scentsy, there is no flame, no smoke, no soot and no lead.

    1. Scentsy products are just as toxic–and even more so to someone allergic to perfumes. Scents or perfumes are made from petroleum by-products and contain carcinogens such as benzine. The paraffin wafers also evaporate into the air you breathe.

      My downstairs neigbors use Scentsy and the stench is so strong that it seeps into my apartment. It’s horrible when you can’t breathe the air in your own home. It’s worse than cigaret smoke–At least smoke is universally known to be toxic and there’s laws against public smoking. There’s a lot of people out there who don’t know–or care–how toxic perfumes and air freshners are.

      1. Scentsy Does NOT evaporate. Scentsy is safe for anyone who suffers from asthma! HOWEVER if youre sensitive to smells then of course any type of air freshener whether it be a candle, a wickless candle, insense, any other type of natural air freshener will bother you.

        1. Um, Scentsy contains formaldehyde. How is that safe for asthma sufferers, or anyone else on the planet?

  37. Thanks so much for posting this on your blog. It saddens me that so many consumers are ill informed of the toxicity of paraffin candles. I strongly feel that paraffin candle makers should be required to list the toxic ingredients in their candels and list the potential health effects.

    In fact, I created a petition at Paraffin-based wax and candle makers: List ingredients & advise of health effects.

    To read more about what I’m trying to do and to sign my petition, click here:

  38. Very interesting article–this is my first time checking out your website. I recently started my own soy candle business. I knew paraffin candles were toxic but I never really thought about the beeswax. I assumed that since they were from bees, it was natural and safe. I didn’t use beeswax simply because it was too expensive for me to buy. Now I definitely will not be using beeswax either. Do you know anything about using foods to scent home made candles? Thats something else I’m considering but I guess that would have toxins in it too considering how crops are grown. It’s a shame how there’s toxins and chemicals in everything anymore…

  39. I had terrible allergic reactions to scented candles and plug-ins. My eyes would become blood shot, my neck, hands, feet would break out in hives, my ears would plug up and my sinuses would become very congested whenever I would come in contact with the candles, sprays or plug-ins. I would itch all over. From August, 2011 to January, 2012, I was miserable. The school system finally bought me an air filter for my room and moved my classroom to the other end of the building. One teacher in the school where I taught had 3 candles of different fragrances burning in her classroom with the doors closed. Candles were burning in staff bathrooms, empty classrooms and even the lobby of the front office. I think schools should have policies preventing candles from being used in public buildings with or without flames. I retired this year but I continue to have concern for the children who have to breathe these toxins and I truly believe that it is as bad as second hand smoke.

  40. Well….might as well live in bubble then lady, because in TODAYS world EVERYTHING is bad for health. Are you using a cellphone? micro oven? Are you eating steak? Those are far far more harmful. Why, the very computer you used to write this article is emitting harmful rays isnt it? Most healthy living options are no more. Thats the price we pay for the luxuries of comfortable living.


  42. I’m a candle maker and I gave up making paraffin candles a few years ago for the reasons mentioned in this article, I now make soy candles, though of course there are issues with soy as well. As a buyer of candles you need to be very careful and conscious of the candles you are purchasing because there are many ways candle manufacturers can market their candles to sound like it’s something it’s not. Beeswax candles are definitely the way to go for a natural clean smelling and burning candle, though you need to be careful of ones that are infused with essential oils, it’s not always as pure as it seems. Another alternative, though more rare and expensive are bayberry wax candles. They have a nice natural piney scent to them. All in all this was a very well written article and thank you for spreading the information to make more people aware of some of the hazards of burning candles.

  43. Thank you for the informative article. I love how some of these people spout off about facts and dismiss them simply because A) they like candles or B) they sell some sort of this crap in a pyramid scheme (scentsy, etc, etc). I would gladly trade a taser to the testicles for some of these people to experience 24 hours of what I feel like after inhaling this toxic crap! It makes some people sick, period! You think I enjoy being like that? These people that simply dismiss this notion are the same people who will scream bloody murder if someone lights up a cigarette next to them, but molten petroleum and fake scents are A OK in their book. Get a clue people.

  44. I am allergic to soy. So allergic in fact that if any type of soy touches my skin I have a reaction! Do you know if there are candles that are completely soy free?

  45. I am a candle maker and a chemist. There seems to be a great deal of misinformation on the net about this subject. None of what I am about to say is aimed at any person or their opinions. This is just my opinion. hope it’s not to long a post. The point of my post is to say that not all paraffin candles are toxic. In fact pure paraffin candles are the least toxic candles of all.
    Pure Paraffin is known as a straight chain hydrocarbon. At room temperature it will not react with anything. It is non toxic. The shorter chain paraffin is mineral oil which is used as Baby Oil by consumers. The longer chain paraffin is wax and is also non toxic. I use highly refined certified food grade paraffin in my candles. This wax has no odor and can be used in food contact such as in covering home made jam. It is so pure it does not even have a wax odor.
    The pillar candles I make with this wax burn with a bright flame, don’t drip or smoke and do not impart any odor to the air. They are not cheap.
    The cheap candles from offshore are made with crude paraffin which contains impurities in varying amounts. These chemicals make it both toxic and dangerous. A proper burning candle cannot be made with this wax but it is about 1/25th the price of refined wax. Candles made with this wax will drip, smoke, produce a lot of soot and smell bad. There have even been incidents where the whole candle catches fire and becomes almost impossible to extinguish, much like a grease fire on the stove. This is caused by the solvents that are present with the wax. Scent is almost always added to these candles to mask the odor but that wont lower their toxicity.

    Candle Scent:
    The scented candle was born when candles were made from beef tallow which smelled like burning grease when it burned. Perfume was put in the melt pool to try to mask the smell. Today scented candles are very popular. Making a scented candle is not that easy. Because most of the natural perfumes are not compatible with paraffin they are rarely used in candle production. If they are, special chemicals must be used to keep the oil in the candle. These chemicals can cause the candle to smoke.

    More often synthetic scents are used. Some of these aromatic chemicals can cause allergic reactions or cause an individual to become sensitized. After repeated exposure to them over time the person will have allergic reactions to even the smallest trace of them. Many people are sensitive to the synthetic vanilla scent. This is not surprising. It is made up of 80 aromatic chemicals. Some synthetic scents have as many as 1200. By the time you are 50 years old you are likely to be sensitive to at least one. Also, I would doubt that anyone has determined the synergistic effects of mixing these chemicals together. I would advise sticking to natural scents like cinnamon etc.
    Another thing about the scented candle is the fact that when the scent oils are burned in the flame they change into other chemicals as they pyrolyze. It would take a team of chemists a long time to determine what the chemicals would be but I doubt they would have have health promoting effects.
    For this reason I do not make or sell scented candles.
    Beeswax is a combination of esters. Pure beeswax is pure white and has no odor. It is extremely expensive and used primarily in pharmaceuticals. The beeswax that is used for candles contains impurities, some of which give it its aroma.
    When a bee forages it uses its hind legs, which are sticky, to pick up pollen. Those legs will also pick anything else that will stick. Depending on where it goes it will bring the pollen as well as the other stuff back back to the hive where it will all become part of the honey and wax. In a pristine meadow this works out well……..near a busy highway,not so much.
    Beeswax is refined for candle use by boiling it in water and allowing it to cool. The impurities fall to the bottom and the semi purified wax floats to the top. It is heated again and strained.
    Beeswax candles will burn with a duller flame and produce more soot than a quality paraffin candle because of the aromatic compounds they contain. That said I don”t think candles made with beeswax will harm anyone.

    TCheap toxic candles from overseas flooded the Canadian market around 2000 and turned many people away from burning pillar candles because of all the problems they caused. Sadly, even manufacturers like myself who were making a non toxic product were devastated. Many of the Canadian candle makers are gone. Strangely, the makers of the toxic candles are still alive and well and selling their junk for really cheap prices.
    I now sell my candles to gourmet restaurants and at the one of a kind show in Toronto where I have a small following of people who are sensitive to chemicals but can burn my candles without getting sick or having their ceilings in their houses covered in soot. I’m sure there are others who make quality candles but my customers say they are hard to find.
    I am both a scientist and a skeptic. I welcome any criticism of the facts I have presented. That is the way I learn.

  46. I got rid of all my candles recently (even my fancy ones) because they all were paraffin. Anyways, I found some locally made, hand poured soy candles that are all soy, and say “100% natural ingredients” but the squares they sell are highly fragrant. The candles are, too, but the wax chunks you can melt are super fragrant. There are no ingredients listed so I emailed the company today asking. If they use essential oils (I hope) then I just don’t see them being so crazy fragrant. What else would they be using? I do make my own air fresheners and also have a cool mist ultrasonic nebulizer for essential oils, but was wanting to use these, too. I’m mainly concerned about my pet and the fumes being let off. I’m hoping these locally made candles and wax bars are safe, but no ingredients concerns me.

    1. We use medical grade essential oils for scents. Then it’s therapeutic and non toxic. If we are sick we put on ones for immunity. If its bed time, calming ones, etc. I don’t use any kind of candle/wax things for scents. Petroleum is not natural. My scents don’t contain allergens as the proteins aren’t in the oils (except citrus oils).
      If you have ailments you can see if oils will address them. We have helped with lots. Feel free to contact me with questions. my email is on the site 🙂 Worldwide available.

      1. Yes!! Leah, Young Living Essential Oils are 100 % pure! I use them. Scentsy DOESN’T use them because of the cost! NO candles in my home 🙂

  47. Do you know about food-grade petroleum wax? how safe is it? I believe “Scentsy” uses this AND soy… 🙂 Thanks!

  48. We use beeswax candles only, until I discovered “floating water candles” sold on Amazon here: It consists of a clear plastic wick holder which floats on a base of water topped with vegetable oil. You can burn any kind of vegetable oil (I’ll use soy from now on because of what you said about soy candles being safe to breathe), and it burns for 10 – 12 hours! My stained glass candle holder is stunningly beautiful lit up from within with a floating candle!

  49. There is a safe alternative. Scentsy offers wickless wax burners. They plug in to the wall, and with the use of a small watt light bulb they melt wax that releases a pleasant frangrance with even more concentration than a candle. They are completely safe to be on 24/7 there’s no flame, soot, chemicals, or lead. In fact, the wax is produced by food grade petroleum, and if it were to be consumed it would be completely safe. As the mother of a curious toddler that likes to climb and put everything in her mouth. I wouldn’t have anything buy Scentsy in my home. I am a Scentsy independent consultant and you can check out my websites or feel free to contact me with questions.

    1. Nicole- You stated that Scentsy is completely safe and the there are no chemicals. As far as I know the Scentsy has chemical fragrance, not essential oils. Are you saying that chemical fragrance is safe?

      1. I agree with Becky!! Nicole, HOW can there be NO chemicals in Scentsy??? There is no such thing as “Cookie Dough” oil ?? and the oils Scentsy uses are not 100% pure-food grade!! Gives me an instant headache!!

  50. Unfortunately, IKEA candles are made with PALM OIL. The palm oil industry is directly linked to the DEFORESTATION of Indonesia. The deforestation is spreading at an incredible speed, killing plants and wildlife. The orangutan is one of the animals that is being slautered. The number of orangutans left in the wild? A mere 2000. They are in danger of extinction. As well, without the rainforest to help control global climate through photosynthesis, the global temperature is rapidly rising. I think IKEA should be boycotted. Do not buy candles there. The consumer needs to be held accountable. Soy, olive oil and other types of candles are the way to go.

  51. You are so right about the toxins in candles. As one of the only candle manufactures (as far as I know) we actually tested our natural soy candle at Eurofins Product Testing in Denmark (we are located in Denmark). And we came out with a “no additive” result. However, our competitors are full of benzene etc. and it looks like the higher price, the more chemicals. Very surprising and very much opposite what we thought.
    Also we tested our soy candle up against a paraffin candle in a sophisticated particle scanner and found our candle to have 10x fewer particles.
    Now we have initiated a rather large scale test program of soy, paraffin, stearin, beeswax and others at the University of Copenhagen to get hard evidence for the quantity of particles, the shape of the particles and the quantity of nano size particles. This should bring the discussion of “which candle material is the best” to an end. Results follow in April (maybe May). Join us on facebook (ByRansborg) for more info. We will post it in English when we have the results. It should be very interesting.

  52. Just a note on Beeswax candles. My nephew is asthmatic and his pulmonologist (lung doctor) banned beeswax candles because the beeswax is horrible for your lungs. It leaves little particles in your lungs that your body can’t get rid of. It also burns very hot and dirty with black smoke. They’re great for outside, but don’t burn them in the house. 🙂

  53. Food grade parafin is much better some candle companies use parafin mix, which contains animal fat/lard. PartyLite is a candle company that pushes safety. Though Canada and the US do not have serious candle guidelines, Europe does. PartyLite is one candle company the meets those guidelines.

  54. Ava Anderson has wonderful non-toxic candels made organic from Coconut wax. Check them out plus all her other wonderful non-toxic products. They have changed my life for the better.

  55. Thanks for sharing.It was a big help.It took more than a week ,but I finally got rid of all my candles and made my own!

  56. I just recently found out about how toxic candles are when I was contacted by a NATURAL indie candle brand, KISS ME CANDLES to review her product . It’s scary to think of all the candles I’ve been around in my lifetime and all the toxins I’ve been subjected to. But I’m glad to know that my kids (when I have them) will never be subjected to them now that I know. I know it seems like “everything causes cancer or is bad for your health…when do you stop worrying and start living…” But honestly, knowledge is power and there is SO MUCH more going on in our world these days — we need to know what to NOT make a part of our lifestyle. So THANK YOU for sharing!

    Here is a link to my review of KISS ME CANDLES soy candles if you are interested. 🙂

  57. I just had my A/C check up and was just told the devastating news about scented candles and why there is black on my A/C vents with shades of gray around the ceiling. I am heartbroken as I LOVE candles, but my (our) health is much more important and as a newly-diagnosed asthmatic, I appreciate the honesty. I can’t handle products like inscents or room deoderizing sprays, so I guess I will look for other options like oils/diffusers.

  58. Pink Zebra is 100% American Made Soy candles, and was sprinkles that can be used in any flame-less melting/simmer pot. Pink Zebra Home was also recently voted as one of the fastest growing companies in 2013.

    1. We also have re-seal-able reed diffusers. I seen someone mention this in another post.

  59. I’m pregnant and candles have been part of my evening relaxation rituals. A friend sent me to this site and I’m kind of saddened by what I’ve read. Right now, we have Yankee candles and White Barn candles from Bath and Body Works. BBW said they have the highest concentration of the richest fragrance oils, a blend of vegetable wax, and lead free wicks. There’s nothing helpful on the bottom of my Yankee candles. Do you guys know if those two brands are bad???

    1. I have nothing but Bath and Body Works candles. I’ve noticed that with continuous use of these candles the filter has become very black and Sooty over a short period of time. Also my ceiling fans seem to get besides normal dust an abundance of black something… What I’m guessing is also soot.
      I love the scent of my candles, but I can only imagine what these candles are doing for the rest of my home but more importantly my Lungs!!
      Any suggestions on a different company that has really good scented candles.?

  60. Olive Oil Lamps from are perfect solutions to having a clean bright flame. They are very inexpensive too with all kinds of options including using your own lamp container, and 2 ozs burn for hours, so it is actually less expensive to burn olive oil than candles. As for scents, buy essential oils and ad to your olive oil.
    Check it all our or google Merry Corliss Lamps and read the many established Blogs. Jim

  61. Hi, I read your article and started searching for Jo Malone candle information. I couldn’t find any. Do you know if they are safe? However, I stumbled upon this link from which basically says that everything you and other bloggers are saying about the hazards of certain candles is not true. I’m shocked. I believe some candles are toxic but I thought would know better. 🙂

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