Once used primarily as sources of light, candles are a staple in most of today’s homes. They can be used to create ambiance in a room, to add fragrance, and to add soft lighting to a space. However, did you know that these symbols of serenity could actually be damaging your indoor air?
The National Candle Association reports that U.S. retail sales of candles are estimated at approximately $2 billion annually. With candle sales and usage growing, it’s no wonder that consumers and indoor air quality experts have started studying the effects of burning candles.
Research projects conducted at South Carolina State University, the University of South Florida, and the Environmental Protection Agency have all found evidence that burning candles releases toxins such as benzene, toluene, acetone, carbon disulfide, and candle soot into the environment.
Paraffin wax candles are particularly harmful to respiratory health, releasing significantly more toxic chemicals and soot as they burn. These candles, created using the final residue that results from refining crude oil, are the most popular type of scented candles in the U.S.
According to R. Massoudi, Ph.D., and Amid Hamidi, Ph.D., both of South Carolina State University, candles made from beeswax or soy are safer alternatives because they do not release harmful chemicals or candle soot. However, George Thurston, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science at the New York University School of Medicine, urges people to be prudent when lighting any kind of candle in an enclosed space. Burning any candle in a small area, such as a bathroom, without proper ventilation is risky, especially for people with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory health issues.
While you could ban candles from your home permanently, this would probably be a hard decision — especially on those days when you want to fill your home with smell of soothing lavender or warm cinnamon.
One solution to help you happily coexist with candles is to purify your indoor air with an air purifier. A specialized unit such as the Allerair 5000 MCS Air Purifier, is a great solution for combating airborne chemicals. The Allerair 5000 MCS features a four-stage filtration system that includes a true HEPA filter and 15 pounds of chemical-absorbing activated carbon. This system filters out traces of chemical cleaners, solvents, mild toxins, paint fumes, cigarette smoke, plastics, furniture glue, and – you guessed it – chemicals produced during candle-burning.
Using an air purifier not only allows you to continue enjoying candles in your home, it also improves your overall indoor environment.