The vast amount of information on candles can feel overwhelming at times, especially when you're trying to learn whether soy candles are safe or considered toxic. Bringing in the popular home decor staple can help spruce up any room, especially in candle season as the nights draw in. But when it comes to burning them, knowing where you stand can provide peace of mind. We dive into the big questions, are candles bad or toxic and are soy candles safe?
Are candles toxic?
Candles have been a popular source of light and ambience for centuries, but are they safe to use? Some are made from paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum. Paraffin candles have been a topic of concern due to the potential release of harmful chemicals when burned. These chemicals include benzene and toluene, which are known carcinogens. In addition, candles with paraffin wax may emit soot and black smoke, which can contribute to indoor air pollution.
Now, because they're considered to produce more soot and chemicals than other alternatives, such as beeswax candles, or soy, it doesn't mean they're not safe in your home at all. Simply, they produce more than their other counterparts. All candle companies are required by law to undergo rigorous testing to ensure they're safe to burn. Any reputable business would follow these rules, and if you're ever unsure you can reach out to ask.
This has led to an increased interest in alternative options for the standard candle lover, such as soy candles. Soy candles are made from natural soybean oil and are considered to be a safer alternative to paraffin candles. They are non-toxic candles, biodegradable, and produce a cleaner burn. However, it's still important to be mindful of the fragrance oils and wicks used in soy candles, as some may still contain synthetic or potentially harmful ingredients.
When choosing beautiful candles, it's advised to opt for natural wax candles and fragrance oils, as well as candles with cotton wicks. Additionally, ensuring that candle burning takes place in a well-ventilated room can further minimise any potential risks. Ultimately, while candles can add ambience to a space, it's crucial to prioritise safety and choose candles that are free from toxic chemicals.
At buff all of our vegan candles are made from natural soy wax, rigorous tested candle fragrances and cruelty-free ingredients.
Are candle wicks made of lead?
Historically, candle wicks were commonly made with lead. However, due to the potential health risks associated with lead exposure, the use of lead wicks has been banned in the United States and United Kingdom for many years. Lead exposure can lead to various health issues, including neurological problems, developmental delays, and reproductive harm.
To ensure the safety of candle wicks, it is important to check for the presence of lead. One simple way to do this is by rubbing the wick against a plain white paper. If a grey mark appears, it could indicate the presence of lead in the wick.
To avoid any potential health risks, it is advisable to choose candles with cotton or wood wicks. Cotton wicks are free from harmful substances and provide a clean burn. Wood wicks, on the other hand, add a unique crackling sound to your candle experience. These wick options are considered safe and eliminate concerns regarding lead exposure.
Is candle smoke toxic?
Breathing in any type of smoke, including candle smoke, can potentially damage your health.
To minimise smoke inhalation and potential toxicity, it is important to take certain precautions. Firstly, ensure that you light candles in a well-ventilated room. Opening a window or using a fan can help to disperse any smoke. Additionally, avoid placing candles near drafts as this can cause uneven burning and increase the release of soot.
Opting for alternative types of candles can also help reduce exposure to harmful chemicals. Consider using candles made from natural waxes such as soy, coconut, or beeswax, as these tend to produce less smoke and soot.
One simple way to see if your candle is producing too much soot or harmful chemicals is to check the colour of the smoke. If your candle is producing black smoke, or the wick and flame seem unstable, then snuff it out safely and avoid burning it. After a candle has burned, if there's black around the sides/rim or top of the glass, this is also an indicator that it produces soot. Also, if a candle has a wick that is too big, it can also lead to a dangerous flame and black rim.
Try our Lemongrass & Persian Lime soy candle, made with the natural wax and specially formulated candle fragrance.
Is candle wax toxic?
Candle wax toxicity is a topic some are still worried about, like are paraffin candles toxic? Commonly cited concerns suggest that a certain type of wax, specifically paraffin wax, releases potentially dangerous chemicals when burned. However, it is important to note that reputable scientific studies have not shown any candle wax, including paraffin, to be harmful to human health. But people with asthma or other conditions may have individual experiences.
While there have been debunked studies claiming the toxicity of paraffin wax, it is crucial to rely on scientifically-backed evidence. Numerous studies have concluded that burning scented candles made from paraffin wax does not pose significant health risks. In fact, the National Candle Association emphasises that paraffin wax is safe to burn. It's more that paraffin has more chemicals and soot than others.
During candle season - or the winter months - they are common gifts, so it's always worth familiarising yourself with the label information.
Are scented candles toxic?
But are these candles safe to use? In addition, fragrances used in candles can be derived from synthetic, artificial fragrances, which can also contribute to indoor air pollution and air quality. To ensure the safety of your home and your health, you should read the ingredients on the label to find out if you are allergic to any of the materials used.
Generally, the candle industry uses specifically crafted fragrances for their candle scent. These have undergone testing standards to ensure they are safe.
However, fragrance - whether it's in reed diffusers, candles or wax melts - is toxic to aquatic life. Never tip away unused or leftover wax down the drain. Instead, wipe clean with a kitchen towel and dispose of the rubbish.
Whether it's cheaper candles, flameless candles or luxury and high-quality candles - always read the label and safety information before each use. We'll also dive into allergens below, which may be important for people with asthma.
- MORE: What are vegan candles?
Fragrances & allergies - what are safe candles?
Fragrances have become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. From perfumes and body sprays to scented candles and air fresheners, these pleasant scents have the power to create a soothing and inviting atmosphere. However, for some individuals, fragrances can trigger allergic reactions, skin irritation, throat irritation, runny nose and other respiratory conditions or issues.
Under normal conditions, most people don't see any of these symptoms. Someone who has a respiratory disease or condition may come across uncommon side effects.
Allergies to fragrances are quite common, affecting a significant portion of the population. The reactions can vary from mild symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes, to more severe manifestations like difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and even asthma attacks. These allergic responses occur when the immune system perceives the fragrance as a harmful substance and releases chemicals to combat it.
Everyone, not just people with asthma, should always read the candle label to see the list of allergens. They should always be clearly identified on the item itself, and the packaging, so you can recognise any ingredients you are trying to avoid. If you are interested in the full list of ingredients for fragrances, contact the company and they should be happy to help. Unscented types of candle won't have any fragrance, and the allergies would only apply to any dye colourant or wax type itself. Unscented candles just mean they have no scent or smell to them.
If you need to avoid certain items due to allergies, have a sensitive nose, or personal preference, you could opt for a natural fragrance. These are often from essential oils and plant extracts. They often have a milder scent and come from organic sources. Many companies have begun to produce fragrance-free or hypoallergenic products to cater to individuals with allergies. Bear in mind, that essential oils are more complicated. They are generally fine to use in most candle types, however, most of the oils have a lower flash point (burn rate), which means when added to the hot wax in the production process, some or most of the scent can evaporate. Essential oils and fragrance oils are not the same thing, but some fragrance oils are infused with essential oils, and the rest are made up of safe, tested, synthetic scents. Aromatherapy candles infused with purely essential oils are safe, but it's better to use them in smaller quantities.
If you suspect that fragrances are causing allergic reactions or respiratory issues, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or allergist for proper diagnosis and guidance. They can conduct tests to identify specific fragrance allergies and recommend the best course of action.
Love filling your home with beautiful aromas? Our wax melt gift set lets you try up to five different scents to find your favourite.
Scents that are toxic for dogs - pet-friendly candles
Dogs have an incredibly powerful sense of smell, with an estimated 300 million olfactory receptor cells compared to our mere 5 million. Now, you may have found the perfect scent and items made from the ideal types of candle wax, but are concerned for your pooch - and rightly so. Your favourite candles may actually have long hours of burn time but nasty toxins or airborne particulates affect your furry friend.
While dog's exceptional sense provides them with many benefits, it also means that certain scents can have adverse effects on their health. They are more sensitive to the emissions from candles with their clever snout. There are several scents that are toxic for dogs and can be harmful to their respiratory system, triggering allergies and other issues. You could also look out for pet-friendly candles, that specify this on the label.
Common scents that can be toxic to dogs are essential oils, especially those derived from plants such as tea trees, eucalyptus, and peppermint. These oils contain compounds that are known to cause respiratory issues, including irritation and inflammation of the airways. Additionally, some essential oils can be toxic when ingested by dogs. Essentially, if you're on the lookout for pet-friendly candles, try to avoid the above.
Some pups may have issues with fragrance oils as well, but if pet owners are unsure always contact your vet before burning. Always ensure that during candle season the products - made out of all types of wax - are out of the way for pets and children.
It's important to remember that what may smell pleasant to us can be overpowering and potentially harmful to our furry friends. If you notice any adverse reactions in your dog, such as excessive coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing when exposed to certain scents, it is best to consult with a veterinarian. They can provide guidance on which scents to avoid and recommend alternative, dog-safe options to ensure the well-being of your pet.
Are soy candles toxic?
Soy candles have gained popularity in recent years due to their perceived safety compared to traditional paraffin candles. Many people choose soy candles as a healthier alternative because they are made from natural soybean oil and do not contain the harmful chemicals found in paraffin wax. However, it is important to consider the safety of soy candles and whether they pose any potential risks.
While soy candles are generally considered safe to use, it is essential to ensure they are made from high-quality, 100% soy wax and do not contain any untested additives. Choosing soy candles with cotton wicks and natural fragrance oils can further enhance their safety. The natural aspect will help towards clean burning and reducing toxicity. This may be the choice for you if you're looking after your general human health.
Is soy wax natural?
Soy wax is considered part of natural products and a sustainable alternative. It is made from soybeans, which are a renewable resource. The process of making soy wax involves extracting oil from soybean flakes and then hydrogenating it to create a solid wax. This ensures that soy wax is a vegan-friendly option, as it does not involve the use of any animal products.
One of the key benefits of soy wax is its clean burn. It produces less soot and smoke than paraffin wax candles, resulting in a healthier and more enjoyable atmosphere. Additionally, soy wax candles tend to have a longer burn time than their paraffin counterparts.
It's important to note that while soy wax is generally considered natural, some candle manufacturers may add other substances to the wax to enhance fragrance, colour, or burn performance. These additions may include natural fragrance oils, colourants, or stabilisers.
Some candle-makers add decor pieces to the items, like gem stones, dried flowers etc, so always check if they have been tested. Flammable items used for decor may mean the candle you've purchased is only for decoration and should never be burned.
Want to sit back and unwind? Relax after a long day with our Lavender soy candle.
Are soy candles safe to burn inside?
Soy candles are generally safe for indoor use, it's always a good idea to burn candles in a well-ventilated room. This helps to ensure proper air circulation and minimise any potential risks associated with indoor air pollution. Additionally, remember to trim the candle wick to ¼ inch before each use to prevent excessive smoke and soot.
If your candle appears shorter each time you use it, it could be a self-trimming wick where you don't need to cut it after each time.
Soy candles - are they a fire hazard?
Soy candles, like all paraffin and beeswax candles and wax melts, can still pose a fire hazard if not used correctly. It's important to understand the potential risks and take necessary precautions to ensure safety when using soy candles.
One of the advantages of soy candles is their lower melting point compared to paraffin candles. This means they are less likely to cause burns or stains if accidentally spilt. However, this also means that they have a higher likelihood of melting and dripping (for pillar candles) which can increase the risk of fire.
To prevent accidents, it is crucial never to leave natural candles unattended. Always extinguish them before leaving the room or going to sleep - snuff the candle out properly, never blow it out as this can blow hot wax out of the candle and onto your skin. Keep candles away from any flammable materials, such as curtains, decorations, or furniture. Always keep them out of reach for pets and children.
By following these safety tips, you can enjoy the cosy ambience of soy candles without compromising your safety. Remember, fire prevention is key, and being cautious with any type of candle is essential.
How to use all candles safely
When it comes to using candles safely, whether they are soy or other types, there are a few key tips and guidelines to keep in mind. First and foremost, it's essential to always follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper usage. This includes things like how long to burn the candle and how to trim the wick.
Regardless of the type of candle, storing them correctly is crucial. Soy wax candles, for instance, should be stored at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. This helps to prevent any potential damage to the candle and ensures a longer burn time.
To enhance the candle experience while preventing accidents, consider making healthy choices. For example, choose candles with natural fragrance sources, like essential oils, or candle scents that have been specifically curated for candles. Opt for candles with cotton or wooden wicks, as these materials do not require chemical treatments, unlike some metal wicks that can release toxic fumes when burned.
Remember, candle safety is important to prevent fires, injuries, and indoor air pollution. By following these tips and making informed choices, you can enjoy the ambience and aroma of candles while keeping your home safe and healthy.
Shop our range of soy wax candles infused with stunning scents in recyclable frosted glass.