Candle Fumes: Toxic or Not?

Learn about candle fumesLots of people ask us whether or not candle fumes are toxic. Naturally, we let them know that ours are not… but unfortunately, some are.

Candle Fumes

The fragrances and smoke that are just part of candle-burning all combine into what most people think of as candle fumes. When it comes to natural, vegetable-based candles, particularly those with hemp wicks, you don’t have anything to worry about, according to researchers at South Carolina State University.

However, paraffin candles are another story. Paraffin is a byproduct of the petroleum industry. As if that wasn’t unfriendly enough, they give off toxins that have been linked with cancer, allergies and asthma.

Candle Fumes with a Side of Lead? No Thanks.

You also have to be careful about the wicks used in candles you enjoy. While the US banned wicks from being made with lead cores here, within our borders, some countries still manufacture them — and they’re perfectly legal to sell to American companies. You need to make sure that your candles are made with either zinc wicks or hemp wicks to be on the safe side.

Are There Good Candle Fumes?

The grocery-store variety of paraffin candles that smell so wonderful can harm your health and ruin your indoor air quality, according to the SCSU study. Those toxic candle fumes might give you a temporary mood boost, but in the long run, you’re likely better off without them.

The alternative? Using responsibly sourced soy candles with body-friendly fragrances. Essential oils, and even many synthetic fragrances, don’t emit toxic candle fumes. Hemp wicks don’t have lead cores, and neither do zinc wicks.

It seems like a lot to think about when all you really want is a pretty candle. It kind-of is… but if you find a reputable company (cough, cough) that focuses on sustainability and responsible candle manufacturing, you don’t have to worry about toxic candle fumes.

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About Angie

Angie Johnston is a the COO of Johnston Candles. She's also the owner of Unique Web Copy, a copywriting firm that specializes in distinctive copy for attorneys, physicians and other professionals.