Are Candles Toxic?
If you are using the standard candles mede from paraffin wax, then yes, these candles are known to be toxic when burned. I am not sure where I heard that the everyday candle was a health culprit, but once I did, I wanted to research the topic and see what information I could find that would influence my future candle-burning habits.
Most of us burn candles for different occasions, and quite often, we burn them on a birthday cake...and many-times than not, the candle wax always drips on the cake and some unfortunate soul eats it, mistaking it for oh-so-colorful frosting. But all humor aside, awareness and curiosity of the ingredients and properties of all products one buys is a standard procedure in the resolve to taking care of oneself and lead a healthy lifestyle. That's why, I recommend looking inside your cabinets for those candles you bought for the holidays and special occasion....and throwing them out.
Here is why. Standard candles are from paraffin wax, a byproduct of the petroleum industry that is very cheap to make. It is less expensive than any other wax, and by 1850s, it replaced animal fat wax as the standard ingredient in most candles. When burned, paraffin releases soot that settles on house-hold items, curtains and walls. This soot is known to contain 11 toxins (nine-toxin exposure contributes to excess cancer risk), including as naphthalene, methyl ethyl ketone, toluene and benzene. Paraffin also gives off "petro-soot," which is known to be is considered just as dangerous as second hand smoke. According to the Jounal of Pediatrics, paraffin lamp oil burned during holidays has posed risks of aspiration and pneumonitis (study published in volume 113, issue 4). Candles seem like such an ornate product we associate with joy, holidays and gift-giving, that it is almost crushing to think that hiding behind the image of beautiful shapes and earthy fragrances lies a chemical warehouse ready to be unleashed! Oh the horror...
You might be thinking to yourself: Oh, come on! I light a few candles per year- big deal. But, this is akin of thinking that the few cheeseburgers, the few cigarettes, the everyday use of chemical-filled cosmetic and cleaning products will not be enough to cumulatively put a strain on your immune system and liver, leaving your body less protected from fighting free-radicals. The extent of every day chemical-accumulation and bombardment in our bodies is beyond the body's ability to keep up and constantly flush out (with the help of other healthy habits). This is even more disturbing, given the fact that most babies born in the modern world are born with traces of toxins inherited from the mother's body....and most of these are the "harmless type" found in ever-day products.
So, what are the alternatives? I am happy to report that there are two great alternatives to paraffin candles that are available in many health-food and indoor-product stores. These candles are made from either soy wax or beeswax, burn twice as long (or longer) and release very little soot and no toxins into the air. They are safe and made as nature intended!
Soy candles are biodegradable and made from soy beans. Most soy candles are made with lead-free wicks and from environmentally-friendly materials that are human-friendly too! Since soybean candles burn at a cooler temperature, the candle burns longer. The investment in using soy-based candles will definitely pay off.
Beeswax candles are even more attractive, because when burned, they clean the air by emitting negative ions into the atmosphere. For many spiritual healers and meditators, beeswax candles are the preferred candles for concentration and connection with the pure energy of the "fire" light emitted by a candle. Beeswax is produced in the glands of worker bees who secrete the substance- along with honey- in the bee hive. For all those keen on using the byproduct of mother nature- as opposed to a chemical industry- the choice of product is clear!
***Happy Holidays and safe candle-burning to all....
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