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Why buy environmentally friendly candles?

Updated on December 19, 2011

Why indeed? Candles can make great gifts and look beautiful in our homes. Whether they are used just as a home accent, to celebrate a birthday or other special event, to set the mood for a romantic dinner, or to scent our homes, candles are a pretty common house hold item. But does it matter what type of candles we choose to purchase for our homes?

There are many reasons why, yes, it does matter what types of candles you burn. The most common types of candles sold are made out of something called paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is made from petroleum. Some disadvantages to using paraffin wax in candles are that paraffin is non-renewable, is an air pollutant when burned, and contains chemicals that can be dangerous to our health. Chemicals contained in paraffin can include, toluene, benzene, acetone, acrolein, ethanol, and formaldehyde among others. These chemicals, when the wax is burned, are released into our homes where we can breathe them in. Many of them are known carcinogens.

Scientists in the American Chemical Society have presented information that burning candles made from paraffin causes indoor air pollution that is not only bad for the environment, but also to human health. The chemicals released from these candles in confined areas in our homes may contribute to conditions such as allergies or respiratory irritation.

So is there a way to burn candles in our homes without risking releasing toxic chemicals into the air? Luckily there are now healthier alternatives to paraffin based candles. Beeswax candles, for example,are nontoxic, renewable, and soot free. Soy candles are biodegradable, renewable, do not release toxic chemicals, and burn about 50 percent longer than typical paraffin candles do. Palm oil candles are made from coconuts and are clean burning.

Environmentally friendly candles are usually a bit more expensive than traditional candles but the health and environmental benefits make them more than worth the price. Also, soy, beeswax, and palm oil candles all typically last longer than paraffin candles so you may save money by not having to purchase new candles as often. When buying environmentally friendly candles, make sure to read the ingredients. Some candles sold as being made from soy or any of the other more natural alternatives actually contain wax that is a mixture of paraffin and another, more appealing, ingredient. Also look for candles that use natural ingredients rather than synthetic fragrances.

For those of us who enjoy the ambiance that having candles in our home can bring, but don't like the idea of using paraffin based products, there are luckily healthier alternatives. Candles made from more natural and renewable resources such as soy or beeswax are not only better for the environment, but also for our health.


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