Scented candles can be bad for your health

Indoor pollution and a possible negative impact on health during pregnancy are just some of the not-so-nice repercussions of scented candles, air fresheners and incense...

Who doesn't love the warm fragrance of cinnamon-apple, lemongrass or rose wafting through their homes at the end of a long day?

These delicious fragrances are often achieved through scented candles, incense and/or air fresheners by many families to make their homes smell lovely.

As a mum, I mostly use scented candles to help me unwind at the end of a long day, or to make my home smell gorgeous when I have guests over.

But I got rather alarmed after finding out just how bad scented candles as well as incense and air fresheners can be for our health.

Indoor air pollution and more

The danger of these sweet-smelling products lies in the chemicals contained in the fragrance and wax they use, as pointed out by both Woman's Day and The Daily Mail

Some researchers even feel that long-term use of scented candles, "might lead to asthma, lung damage, or — in extreme cases — even cancer."

Indoor air pollution is also a negative by-product of some scented candles. A study conducted by the Environmental Protection Authority, USA found that candles with more fragrance in them produce more soot.

Moreover, "possible organic compounds in candles that might be linked to increase cancer risk"; however, that information is yet inconclusive.

Health risks during pregnancy

A couple of years ago, Scientific American reported that a study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives showed a link (but not definitive) between the exposure to phthalates -- chemicals found in air fresheners and some plastics -- during pregnancy and the child's later risk of developing asthma.

"Phthalates are known to impede the endocrine system, the regulatory mechanism that dictates hormonal distribution in the body," Scientific American reports.

"The chemicals' disruptive prowess have been linked to health problems including birth defects, cancers and diabetes. Yet until now there has been no data to suggest they were also harming children's respiratory systems."

Meanwhile, Woman's Day mentions a 2009 South Caroline State University study that cautions about the chemicals a burning candle may release into the air.

Some of these chemicals are alkans, alkenes, and toluene, all of which can have negative impacts on human health.

"For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma," said lead researcher and chemistry professor Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi.

While research is still ongoing, the results of studies done up to now on the health risks of scented candles and air fresheners cannot be ignored

Below are some non-toxic alternatives for you to consider, that can make your home smell good and purify the air your breathe :

  • Soy candles: Made from soybeans, these candles burn cleaner that paraffin candles and cause much less soot. What's more, soy candles are non toxic so they don't poison your air as they burn.
  • Beeswax candles:  Beeswax is the purest and most natural of all waxes, and has the least amount of processing and no additives. Candles made out of beeswax leave no sticky soot behind and also produce negative ions that clean the air.
  • Indoor plants: If you want to purify the air you breathe at home, there are certain types of household plants that you can place strategically around the house to help you do just this. Read this theAsianparent article to find out about six such plants.

Do share your thoughts on this article in a comment below. And if you know the best places to get soy and beeswax candles in Singapore, let us know.