Here is a topic that I’ve recently learned more about that I find to be quite surprising. Have you ever wondered what a standard wax candle is made from? Ever thought that something as common and widely used as a candle could actually be hazardous to your health?
Most candles are made from paraffin wax which is a petroleum by-product…aka industrial waste! When burned, they release a carcinogenic soot filled with toxins. Benzene and Toluene are two of the many. These are also found in car exhaust fumes and second hand cigarette smoke! These can lead to a host of health issues such as asthma, heart and lung problems.
Up until 2003, most wicks used to make candles contained lead in order to keep the wick in the upright position. A wick that contains lead releases 5 times the amount of lead that is considered hazardous for children and exceeds the EPA’s standards for outdoor air. For these reasons, the use of lead in wicks was banned in 2003. Unfortunately, lead wicks still make it into our supply so make sure to watch out for this. A quick way to check your un-burnt candle is to take a white piece of paper and drag it across the end of the wick – if it leaves a grayish colored mark, that’s a sign that there is lead in the wick. You can also search for ‘lead-free wick’ on the packaging.
Good news is that there are great non-toxic alternatives! Here are some of my favorites…
If you like the ambiance and feel of burning a candle, search for ones made from beeswax, soy wax or any other vegetable based wax. Make sure it says 100% of the wax as sometimes you’ll find ones with paraffin wax mixed in to cut costs. Although these candles do cost more money, they also burn significantly slower than paraffin based candles. Another way to reduce the cost is to make your own candles buy purchasing the wax and 100% cotton wicks, and you can use any old glass jar (I made the one in this post’s photo!).
Essential Oil Diffusers
Purchase your own essential oils and use them in a diffuser – I just purchased this one on amazon and love it! Just need a tea light candle to heat up the reservoir where you put the essential oil into.
Another diffuser I have is called a Reed Diffuser that has bamboo sticks that sit in a small ceramic vase that soak up the essential oils. It’s really easy to make your own – search ‘diy reed diffuser’ and a bunch of tutorials come up.
DIY Air Fresheners
For the holidays, make your own air freshener. Fill a pot half way with water and add a mix of orange or lemon slices (with the peel), cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, cranberries…be creative! Let it simmer on the stove and add water as need (never leave unattended!).
Make your own air freshener spray by mixing water and essential oil – my favorite is lavender oil spritzed on my pillow before bedtime.
Now is a perfect time to play around with some of these new ideas. As we make our way into the colder months and windows stay shut more often, indoor air quality is quite important. Have fun and let me know how it goes!