Scented candles may seem like a good way to cover odors or create ambiance in your home, but there are some hidden dangers you should know about before igniting the flame. Scented candles can be either healthy or extremely dangerous (nothing in between) because of the ingredients used. Dangerous chemicals emitted in scented candles are comparable to the dangers of breathing diesel exhaust fumes.
Almost every single “big” brand today is using paraffin wax. Ideally, candle wax will be made of 100% soy that’s FDA-approved and Non-GMO. The most common way to hide paraffin wax among “big” brands is advertising used wax as a base or blend, which means that the wax used is topped or blended usually with high paraffin wax volume (Le Labo, Voluspa, Woodwick, etc.), or they just stay silent when it comes to ingredients which means pure paraffin wax is used (Diptyque, Jo Malone, Nest, etc). If the candle is free of the dangerous chemicals, they will advertise that. Labeling used ingredients have to be exact and transparent. Keep in mind that even a “clean burning” candle can still throw chemicals and toxins into the air that your lungs will need to process. Car engine exhaust also produces a visibly clean burn.
When burned, paraffin wax (made from petroleum waste) creates toxic benzene and toluene chemicals, both of which are known carcinogens. If you suffer from headaches when a candle is burning, it may well be down to the paraffin.
Paraffin wax has a high melting point because it’s made from petroleum, and with that high temperature overburns safe normal fragrances, which forces those companies to use dangerous heat-resistant unhealthy fragrances. What's more, the uncertified scents and dyes often used can also release harmful chemicals when burned, triggering asthma attacks and allergies.
Another danger in certain mass-produced corporate candles are the wicks. The ideal wick in a candle is made of natural cotton and completely metal free, but many candles are still made with a lead wire wick so that when the wax is being poured the wick stays rigid keeping it from folding in under the pressure of the melted wax. It’s important to note that there are lead-free wicks that are still made of metal, those are usually containing dangerous zinc. All-natural cotton wick is still the best option.
The dangers of the lead including behavioral problems, learning disabilities, hearing problems and growth retardation are well documented. It is for this reason that lead wicks were banned in the US back in 2003. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped foreign candle producers, especially China, Hong Kong, and even some US companies from continuing the dangerous use of lead wire wicks in their candles.
In the end, if the candle company is not advertising ALL the ingredients used like we do (always check the website for ingredients), it likely means their products are health hazardous.
One of my best teenage memories starts with a natural disaster. In January 1998, my parents and I returned to our home in Montreal to find that a giant tree limb had ruptured our living room. What would soon be known as the Great Quebec Ice Storm had struck. It was the most catastrophic in modern Canadian history. Accumulations of freezing rain had cracked our maple tree nearly in half. It shattered our front window, glass fringing the tree limb like a body outline in a murder scene.
Outside, downed power lines sparked like electric snakes. More than a million Quebecers were left without power. Cars were crushed and impaled by fallen limbs. Because the ice could inflict violence at any moment, everyone retreated indoors, making for an oddly quiet state of emergency. Except for the distant beeps of electrical-crew trucks, all you could hear was the crack of trees buckling under the weight of the ice, day and night. Long after the sidewalks were cleared, we tiptoed past the eaves of tall buildings and kept our voices low, steering clear of icicles thick as baseball bats and sharp as spikes, primed to fall at any moment.
For seven days and seven nights, until the power returned, we lived by candlelight. We learned to be mindful of candles: how to stand them up, walk with them, nurture their light. At first it was maddening to cook dinner — to carefully carry a plate of candles to the cupboard, poke around for ingredients, then go off again in search of a knife, taking care not to drip wax into the cutlery drawer. I learned how to brush my teeth and bathe by candlelight; the light bounced off the mirrors, making the bathroom for once the brightest room in the house. In our bedrooms, we piled under blankets and read ourselves to sleep by the flickering flames.
Outside, our neighborhood descended into darkness at twilight, but if I stared hard enough at windows blurred with ice, I could just make out little dancing lights. Decades later, no one in my family remembers what we talked about, or ate, or how we spent our afternoons that week. But we all remember the candles.
I’ve since settled in California, and last January events in the world left me with a hunger for silence. I adopted a strict information diet: no television news or social media. One evening, I didn’t even bother to flick on the lights in my apartment. I walked quietly to the window and watched the last of the day, the darkness swallowing the trees along my street. Instinctively, I went looking for a book of matches in the back of the kitchen junk drawer. Opening a closet, I felt around until I discovered the remnant of a housewarming gift: a milk-white candle. I struck a match and lit the dusty wick. I commandeered a plate from the cupboard and set it on my coffee table. I nestled in a blanket, listening to the wind in the courtyard. Eventually, for the first time in too many days, I found myself surrendering to sleep.
That was the start of a practice I’ve taken to calling Candle Hour. An hour before I go to bed, I turn off all my devices for the night. I hit the lights. I light a candle or two or three — enough to read a book by, or to just sit and stare at the flame, which, by drawing oxygen, reminds me I need to breathe, too. I surround myself with scents and objects I like — some fresh rosemary plucked from a neighbor’s bush, a jar of redwood seed pods. I have a journal ready, but I don’t pressure myself to write in it. Candle Hour doesn’t even need to last a full hour, though; sometimes it lasts far longer. I sit until I feel an uncoupling from the chaos, or until the candle burns all the way down, or sometimes both.
Candle Hour has become a soul-level bulwark against so many different kinds of darkness. I feel myself slipping not just out of my day but out of time itself. I shunt aside outrages and anxieties. I find the less conditional, more indomitable version of myself. It’s that version I send into my dreams.
At night, by candlelight, the world feels enduring, ancient and slow. To sit and stare at a candle is to drop through a portal to a time when firelight was the alpha and omega of our days. We are evolved for the task of living by candlelight and maladapted to living the way we live now. Studies have noted the disruptive effects of nighttime exposure to blue-spectrum light — the sort emanated by our devices — on the human circadian rhythm. The screens trick us into thinking we need to stay alert, because our brains register their wavelength as they would the approach of daylight. But light on the red end of the spectrum sends a much weaker signal. In the long era of fire and candlelight, our bodies were unconfused as they began to uncoil.
Tonight’s candlelight will cast the same glow on my Oakland walls as it did on my parents’ walls in Montreal in 1998. I’ll feel in my bones that the day has passed — as all days, even fearful ones, eventually do. The day’s last act is cast in flickering gold. I’ll watch the flame bob and let my mind wander, until I realize I’m sleepy. After a while, I’ll lean over and blow it out, ready now for darkness — where renewal begins.
By Julia Scott March 14, 2018 (New York Times)
Do not trim wick the first time you burn the candle. This will allow the flame to burn bigger and hotter to make sure the candle liquefies all the way across the container edge to edge. This will set the melt pool and each next time you trim your wick and burn it you will not get the tunneling down the middle while leaving wax on the edges of the container.
After the candle liquefies all the way across the container edge to edge trim your wick to ¼ inch (except the first time you light it) and this will help eliminate the smoke and sizzle sound, also reduce the dark smoke and soot on the container. Also, trim the wick to ¼ inch every time before you burn the same candle again.
Container candles are designed for longer burn sessions, so they do better when you let them burn for 1 hour for every inch of diameter the container is to get liquid all the way across. If you light and burn it for only 30 minutes and put it out, that melt pool is pretty much how the candle will burn each time you light it for the life of the candle and the wax on the edges of the container will always remain there, you will get a tunneling effect in your candle which you should try to avoid.
Harden the wax with an ice cube, then carefully scrape it off with an expired credit card or plastic ruler. Rub away remaining residue with cream furniture wax.
Scrape away excess, then apply heat with a blow dryer set to medium, wiping off wax with a rag as it softens. Wash the area with hot, soapy water to remove residue.
Apply medium heat with a blow dryer and wipe away excess wax as it softens. Remove residue with a solution of 1-part vinegar to 3-parts water.
Scrape off excess. Lay a damp, lint free, white cloth over the wax and apply medium heat with an iron, the wax will adhere to the cloth.
Soak the spot with hot water and wipe off wax with a dry cloth. Repeat until all wax is removed, then apply multipurpose remover to get rid of residue.
Ever wondered what to do with all your old bits of scented candle wax after your wick has burnt down? Well, we’ve put together some ideas so you really can get the most out of our beautiful scented candles once they’ve been used.
Here’s the guide what to do with left over candle wax:
1. Lubricate a sticky drawer or squeaky door hinge.
2. Get a fire going.
3. Infuse your home with the final lingering scents.
4. Use it for budget skating wax.
5. Seal up shoelace frays.
6. Seal your letters with a personal touch.
7. Decorate your mantelpiece with candle wax ornaments.
8. Incorporate it into a handmade project!
1. Fix that sticking draw
Want to finally fix that drawer that’s being annoying you for months? Try rubbing your leftover candle wax wherever the wood slides. You’ll be surprised how easily the drawers move around afterwards.
2. Make some fire starters
Need to start a quick fire? You can use your left-over candle wax to make some fire starters. If you’ve got an empty egg carton and some lint you can make one that’ll burn for a long time. The cardboard of the carton helps to get the wax and lint burning.
3. Leave a pleasant lingering aroma in your room
Put your left-over wax in a heavy glass jar, and then place on a radiator. When the wax melts, it leaves a lovely aroma in the room.
4. Easy skating
If you have a budding skateboarder in the household, melt down your wax into muffin tins, so they can wax up curbs before skating on them.
5. Fix your shoelaces
When the ends of your shoelaces start to fray, you may be tempted to get some new ones to make your shoes look new again. But there is another solution…dripping hot wax onto the ends of the shoelaces and rolling them between your fingers will help will fix them.
6. Seal your letters the old-fashioned way
Add a personal touch to the art of letter writing simply by pressing hot scented candle wax. The method can also be used for added elegance with wedding invitations.
7. Scented candle wax ornaments
Making wax ornaments is a fun way to get the whole family involved in decorating your home for special occasions. It’s an easy, creative and unique activity that will quickly become a family tradition.
8. Get creative
Finally, if you love art and design, you can use the left over scented candle wax for a new project.