Candles are possibly one of the most requested items in our Gould St store. And we do listen to customers' requests so have made extensive enquiries into whether scented candles can be manufactured naturally. We knew to avoid the petrochemical (paraffin) bases and the synthetic fragrances (more about why later), but could a natural essential oil fragrance on a natural soy base work? The answer we believe is no.
Once a candle manufacturer learns you want to create a truly natural candle, they stop responding. Or they investigate and come back with 'you can, but it might explode'.
So what are the consequences of burning candles in the home?
Paraffin: A 2009 study by South Carolina State University found that paraffin candles (which the vast majority pf scented candles are) released toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene into the air. These chemicals are proven carcinogens and can cause problems in asthma sufferers as well as affecting your skin and health. Most soy candles on the market are a blend which also contains paraffin (paraffin is better at helping the scent to 'throw'). A recent study by San Diego State University came to the same conclusion using air quality monitors installed in 300 San Diego homes.
Synthetic Fragrance: Phthalates are a common ingredient in the synthetic fragrance blends used in scented candles. Research has found phthalates and disrupt the endocrine system, and also can have an impact on children's respiratory systems. There is also some evidence to suggest a link between exposure to phthalates in pregnancy and children's risk of asthma. There is also now research linking the synthetic scent in candles with cancer. A study carried out by Professor Alastair Lewis of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of York found that an ingredient commonly used to give candles their scent mutates into formaldehyde upon contact with the air. You can read more about why we avoid synthetic fragrance here. And more on phthalates in this article on how the US Government is trying to restrict their use particularly in products used by children and pregnant women.
Lead wicks: Wicks can be made from a metal base including lead, with a cotton wrap. The fumes created from burning lead are known carcinogens.
Soy: While burning soy itself will not damage your health, soy cultivation is a major driver of deforestation in the Amazon. Pure soy candles are rare and if they are purely soy, the scent is unlikely to be essential oils as the fragrance does not 'throw' well and this is also likely to be a flammable combination.
To fragrance the home, we recommend an oil diffuser and pure essential oils or regular use of a Mist Spray/Room Spray fragranced with essential oils.
Any questions relating to candles or the alternatives feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org