We’re all typically used to fragrances all around us – from the detergents we use, the perfumes we wear, and even the scents with which we fill the air in our homes.
But rarely do we ask ourselves what chemical compounds make these scents so strong and long-lasting, and whether or not they are harmful.
These questions begin to draw our attention when we have children. Our health might not be something that takes priority, but the health of our young ones most certainly does!
Believe it or not, even the common scented candle can be harmful (to adults as well as babies!), which is why it’s all the more important to be careful when bringing one into your home.
What Can Make a Scented Candle Toxic?
Commercial candles are usually made from paraffin, rather than natural beeswax.
Paraffin is an entirely man-made substance, created from petroleum waste. Essentially, petroleum i.e. crude oil is heated up and becomes vapor. The vapor is then distilled and turns into liquid form as it cools. Different substances are then made based on the weight of the particles (e.g. gasoline, kerosene, diesel, etc.). The residue of all this is then chemically bleached and deodorized to be made into paraffin wax.
When candles made of paraffin are burned (or even just sit there!), they release molecules of carcinogenic substances into the air such as acetone, benzene, and toluene (all found in diesel), as well as ultrafine soot particles (similar to diesel exhaust).
To paint the picture more clearly (albeit more dramatically), if you wouldn’t like your baby breathing car fumes, scented paraffin candles are also a no-no.
What about the scents though?
Most candles are scented using chemical compounds such as formaldehyde, limonene, petroleum distillates, alcohol, and esters. Like the above, they can be carcinogenic, but can also cause many respiratory problems, as well as headaches and dizziness.
Many scented candles can also contain phthalates which can cause respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and have been proven to be xenoestrogens (they imitate estrogen in the body and cause hormone imbalances i.e. they are endocrine disruptors).
What Are the Safest Candle Options for Babies?
Or humans in general for that matter?
If you’re going for a paraffin candle, at least get an unscented one.
But ideally, you would be looking for candles made from either natural beeswax, soy, or palm oil. Not only are they not toxic, but they also burn longer!
When it comes to the candle wick, look for pure cotton ones that curl over. This is a good sign, meaning the wick wasn’t treated with paraffin or other substances to keep it straight.
Also, look for candles that only contain natural essential oils.
Even candles should have ingredient labels on them. We recommend you stay away from the following ingredients:
- Elaeis guineensis (a derivative of palm oil)
- Petroleum (known as slack wax and by other names)
- Butylphenyl methylpropional (an endocrine disruptor)
- Glycine (known to cause liver and kidney failure in large doses)
- Parfum or fragrance (basically could be any substance that is the brand’s “secret” and that doesn’t have to be disclosed)
If there is no ingredient list there either (a) is no need for one because the candle is made entirely from natural ingredients that are visible (no colorants, no bleaching, no unnatural scents, etc.) or (b) there are too many ingredients to list.
If you’re looking for completely safe candles for the home that you can use around your baby, Cradle&Tonic candles are made from 100% pure essential oils, the highest quality soy wax, and have an unbleached cotton wick. All the elements that make up a high-quality, child-friendly candle.