Fall has arrived and with it all the wonderful scents of the season. One of my favorite smells is that of my Spiced Pumpkin Yankee Candle or any pumpkin candle for that matter. I absolutely love the different scents of burning candles! Recently, I decided it was time to re-paint the interior of my home and my painter informed me of why my beloved candles have to go. The enormity of soot on my walls was contributed largely to my love of burning candles. So, wait, does this mean that my favorite holiday candles are now a forbidden no-no? That fabulous scents that offer me a wee bit of calm and some slight emotional comfort during the stressful insanity of the holidays cannot become forbidden, I was determined to prove him wrong and thus decided to do a bit of research to prove to myself and my painter that candles can continue to burn and bring me my little bit of pleasure without completely destroying the walls and air quality of my home. So, here is what I found.
The National Candle Association offers some valuable information and rules for burning candles in your home. However, when candles are burned, they can release carcinogenic toxins (benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde,and acrolein), these are not good, and most recognizable, soot into the air. Not good at all! Paraffin candles contain many of the same toxins produced by burning diesel fuel. Paraffin candles (petroleum-based) and scented-aromatic candles are the worst offenders and the most common candles on the market. Pollution from candles will contaminate ventilation systems ductwork in homes and can discolor the walls, ceilings and actual contents of the home itself. On the health side of things, when candles are used in unventilated spaces, allergy-like symptoms, irritated respiratory tract problems and asthma symptoms can occur. So far, this does not look promising!
To minimize the negative effects of burning a candle in your home it is suggested that; the wick be trimmed to 1/4 inch before lighting for the first time. Avoid wicks that are too thick and those with a wire core that keep them upright. Candlewicks should have thin, braided wicks that curl over when burned. Containers with narrow mouths will cause unsteady airflow and increase the flicker. Only burn candles in rooms with ample ventilation and avoid drafts on candles. One hour of continuous burning is the maximum and then an equal amount of cool down time is required for the proper burning of a scented or unscented candle. There are alternatives to candle burning. Diffusers can be used and they release essential oils into a room or candle warmers which require no flame which also release aromatic scents and also beeswax or soy candles are candles that actually burn cleaner than regular paraffin wax.
So, in summary, my research suggests that candles are not necessarily a total and complete no-no. but, that with discipline in fiollowing the suggestions of proper candle burning I can still continue to enjoy the scents that bring me such sensual pleasure. I guess moderation is the key and isn’t that true of most things we love.