Consumers can be confident that a well-made and properly burned candle, whether scented or unscented, will burn cleanly and safely. Although there are no known health hazards associated with the use of scented candles, unfounded concerns about the safety of man-made fragrances vs. “natural” fragrance materials and essential oils continue to populate the media. The fragrances approved for candle usage – whether synthesized or “natural” – do not release toxic chemicals.
Validated scientific studies have shown that all major candle waxes exhibit the same basic burn behavior and produce virtually identical combustion byproducts, both in terms of composition and amount. To date, no peer-reviewed scientific study has ever collected or analyzed any emissions data on any candle wax, including petroleum-based paraffin, and proven them to be harmful to human health.
VOCs are compounds that are composed primarily of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen that can evaporate into the air. In addition to its evaporation capability, you can identify VOCs by your ability to smell them. Therefore, nearly all fragrance ingredients in a candle are VOCs.
Not all VOCs are bad, unlike what you may have heard on the news. Every time you walk into a botanical garden or a forest, you are surrounded by VOCs from the plants. Many fragrance ingredients in a candle are identical to VOCs in nature. Other fragrance ingredients do not exist in nature, but are instead made in a laboratory.
A fragrance’s safety level is not dependent on whether it comes from nature or a lab. It is also contingent on the concentration of the specific VOC in the air. To ensure fragrances (VOCs) from candles are safe, fragrance formulas are reviewed against the safety standards established by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). Each ingredient in the fragrance and the finished product is required to meet the specifications set down by IFRA to be compliant with the standard. If the fragrance and product meet the standard, then the fragrance VOCs in that particular product are considered safe for human use.
The federal government, along with California and several other states, have established VOC regulations for consumer products such as candles and air fresheners. They limit the concentration of VOCs in these and many other consumer products. These regulations have a very specific definition of what they consider a VOC. VOCs that do not evaporate easily are not considered VOCs under these regulations, but they are still volatile compounds. These VOC limits on consumer products are not based on any health concerns about the VOCs themselves. Instead, the limits exist to minimize the interaction between VOCs and other chemicals in our atmosphere.
Although millions of Americans regularly use scented candles without any negative effects, it is always possible that a particular fragrance might trigger a negative reaction in a very small percentage of sensitive individuals. Individuals with known sensitivities to specific fragrances may want to avoid candles of those scents. In addition, consumers should remember to burn all candles, whether scented or unscented, in a well-ventilated area.
No. Lead wicks have been officially banned in the United States since 2003, and before then they were primarily limited to inexpensive imported candles. NCA members voluntarily agreed to not use lead wicks in 1974, and long supported the elimination of lead wick use.
The oils found in certain fragrances may slightly increase the small amount of soot produced by a candle, but wick length and flame disturbance are the primary factors that impact sooting in a properly-formulated candle.
No. The minuscule amount of soot produced by a candle is the natural byproduct of incomplete combustion. Candle soot is composed primarily of elemental carbon particles, and is similar to the soot given off by kitchen toasters and cooking oils. These everyday household sources of soot are not considered a health concern, and are chemically different from the soot formed by the burning of diesel fuel, coal, gasoline, etc.
The production of candle soot can also be minimized in the following ways: Trim the wick to ¼ inch before every use to promote proper flame height, place the candle away from drafty areas to avoid flame flickering, and ensure that the wax pool is free of debris.
When you light a candle, the heat of the flame melts the wax near the wick. This melted or liquid wax is then drawn up into the wick by capillary action. The flame’s heat vaporizes the liquid wax to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide (the same byproducts that humans produce when exhaling).
This information was taken from the National Candle Association website. Click the button below for more information.
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