The vast majority of us are fond of scented candles and the clean smell of chemicals - there’s nothing like their sweet aromas and a soft glow to transform your house into a sanctuary of peace and wellness. But do you know what’s actually in them? And what effect they can have on your health?
According to a study by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of York, scented candles, as well as air fresheners and cleaning products, release several chemicals, among which is limonene.
Limonene is used to give products that citrusy scent which is so incredibly popular – it makes your house smell fresh and clean. It might come as a shock that this chemical, which is included in many household cleaning products, is actually dangerous to our health. Once it’s released into the air, limonene reacts with other natural gases to produce formaldehyde, a compound that has been suggested to be cancer-causing.
But there’s more – most candles also contain paraffin, a waste from the petroleum industry. When burned it releases carcinogenic chemicals (benzene and toluene) which can cause serious issues to the respiratory system, especially in children. Some candles also contain lead or other heavy metals in their wick, which are then released into the air. All of these chemicals combined can quickly build up to dangerous levels if the house isn’t ventilated enough, resulting in serious health problems. This is also true of household chemicals which can contaminate our surfaces.
Does this mean we all have to give up coming home to a nice-smelling house? Not at all. There are lots of natural alternatives, which are just as great as the scented chemical-containing candles we love so much.
If you like the idea of candles as an object – and we agree they can be very aesthetically pleasing – then your best natural option is beeswax candles. They are simply made of wax produced by bees, and not only have a lovely scent of honey but also help purify the air. As they are a source of negative ions, they help reduce indoor pollution – exactly the opposite of what artificially scented candles do. Because they can be quite expensive, you might want to make your own. In that case, all you need to do is buy a sheet of beeswax, and roll it into whatever shape you like.
Alternatively, if you don’t really care for candles and all you want is for your house to smell nice, essential oils are what’s best for you. For a quick and easy-to-make air freshener, simply take a bowl of boiling water and add a couple of drops of your essential oil of choice. Bear in mind that different oils have different properties: lavender and chamomile are calming, Eucalyptus is good for colds and coughs, while lemon is refreshing and stimulating. A baking soda solution can be a great alternative to household chemicals too.
Give these natural alternatives a try, and we bet you won’t want to go back to those toxic scented candles or household chemicals ever again!