Despite the fact that which type of wax is in it, many people find that lighting up an aromatic wax candle is a great way to relax and soothe the mind after having a hectic day.
Wax candles aren’t just decorative objectives. They also work awesomely in reducing your anxiety levels and restoring energy. But have you ever thought about whether it is in effect healthy to light up wax candles?
So, are Paraffin wax candles safe or toxic? In the candle-making industry, most candles are paraffin wax candles. You may have heard that paraffin wax can be dangerous as it has toxic ingredients. But also, you may have heard that paraffin wax doesn’t cost any harm to your health. There isn’t a precise answer to confirm whether paraffin wax candles are safe or toxic.
Paraffin includes chemicals; therefore, it is harmful to a certain extent. Still, if you are cautious, you can use paraffin wax candles, avoiding the negative consequences. For that reason, paraffin wax candles have the possibility to be either safe or toxic.
In this article, we’ll be discussing paraffin wax candles. Observing the given information, you will be able to find out if paraffin candles are safe or toxic for your personal use.
Table of Contents
What is Paraffin wax?
First things first! Before understanding anything else, you have to have sound knowledge of what paraffin wax is.
Paraffin is a slightly white or colorless, odorless solid wax at room temperature. Paraffin wax is a byproduct of the petroleum industry.
Before using the wax, it goes through a process known as dewaxing, where the wax gets separated from lubricant oils. Later on, the derived paraffin wax is used for candle making.
The main component in paraffin wax is hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are chemical compounds that are made of hydrogen and carbon atoms in the simplest sense. Derived paraffin wax is not only used in the candle-making industry but also in many other industries.
For instance, it is used for cosmetic purposes, physical therapy even for some food-based products. Paraffin is in demand in the candle-making sector because of its low price and high properties.
Are Paraffin wax candles safe or toxic?
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, it is tricky to say whether paraffin wax candles are safe or toxic. But comparing the pros and cons of paraffin wax, one can generally understand how suitable it is to use paraffin wax candles.
It is not unusual to see many negative comments about paraffin wax candles. Speaking of the negative side, paraffin candles are often considered unhealthy to burn as it contains chemicals.
Unlike natural wax candles, paraffin wax candles emit harmful gasses that include benzene, toluene, and naphthalene when they burn. In scientific terms, they are known as volatile compounds or VOCs.
Volatile compounds are considered toxic, and they could raise health issues mainly related to the respiratory system. Another common problem related to paraffin candles is sooting.
Sooting refers to the incomplete burning of fuel. It is not only paraffin wax candles; any kind of candle could soot while burning. But soot caused by paraffin wax tends to be more harmful due to the chemicals that candles contain.
Despite that, as mentioned earlier, paraffin is still the most common and widely used wax in candle making, and many tend to buy them. You will find plenty of articles on the internet that exaggerate the negative aspect of paraffin wax candles.
Still, it is not very easy to find solid, proven results to completely deny the use of paraffin wax candles. This is why paraffin wax candles are still famous in the candle-making sector.
In some cases, paraffin wax candles come blended with other natural wax types, which could reduce the intensity of toxins. You have to understand that excessively absorbing any kind of smoke is unhealthy for the human body.
However, paraffin wax candles can be used safely too. If you only use paraffin candles once in a while and provide enough ventilation once you lite the candle and let the smoke go out instead of gathering in one place, there’s hugely less tendency that it would cause harm.
History of using paraffin wax in candle-making
Candles were invented hundreds of decades ago. Studies have shown that the origins of candle-making have their roots coming from the Egyptian era.
In the earliest days, candles were made out of animal fat and plants; nevertheless, paraffin wax is not new to the candle-making industry. It certainly has a long history associated with it.
As the National Candle Association explained, the evaluation of contemporary candle-making commenced in the 19th century.
Furthermore, they have mentioned that paraffin wax candles were made for the first time in the 1850s as a result of different experiments done by chemists over the years.
The popularity of paraffin wax was on and off during the past few decades for various reasons; still, it is the most demanding wax used in the candle industry up to today.
Health issues associated with paraffin wax candles
Now you are aware that paraffin wax includes some amount of harmful components. It is crucial to understand what exact health issues occur and how it affects your health due to the usage of paraffin candles.
Here are some potential health issues that paraffin wax candles can cause. Remember, these health concerns may or may not occur depending on the way and how often you light paraffin candles.
- Skin and eye irritation
If you are someone with extremely sensitive skin, paraffin wax candles are not an ideal choice for you. Getting exposed to the fumes released from paraffin wax may cause itchiness and irritation in your skin and sometimes your eyes.
- Respiratory issues
Hence paraffin wax contains hydrocarbons. The smoke of these candles can cause issues in your respiratory system. Simply put, this could be unhealthy for your lungs.
Even though there isn’t much evidence, experts have proven that exposure to chemicals such as toluene and benzene is toxic for the respiratory system.
And paraffin wax releases them when lit up. Getting too much exposure to such chemicals for a constant period may lead to cancer as well.
- Headache and nausea
Most of us use scented wax candles to reduce our stress and relax our minds, but this might not be the case for each and every one.
For some people, the chemicals may cause headaches and dizziness.
Alternatives to get rid of paraffin wax candles
If you want entirely to cut off the use of paraffin wax candles yet use a substitute, there are options for you.
- Switch to natural wax candles!
Natural wax candles are not cheap and easily available as much as paraffin wax candles. But, you can find different types of natural wax candles nowadays.
Some examples would be coconut wax, beeswax, and palm wax. Soy wax is also considered a natural wax, and it is often used as an alternative for paraffin wax candles in recent years.
However, there are controversial opinions about soy wax too. Some manufacturers use pure soybean oil to make soy wax candles, whereas some mix it with paraffin or other types of wax.
If you are well concerned about the safety level of the wax candles you use, you can start from scratch and make your own wax candles.
You can use natural and organic waxes like beeswax, coconut wax, or vegetable-based wax, mix them with essential oils like lavender, thyme and make your candles. There are plenty of instruction videos to follow on the internet.
Final thoughts about safety concerns of Paraffin wax in candle-making
Let’s wrap things up. As discussed throughout the article, paraffin is one of the most common types of wax used in the candle-making sector. Hence it’s a byproduct of petroleum; it does release some toxic fume while burning.
It’s common that there are contradictory opinions about the safety of using paraffin wax candles. Some would argue that it is hazardous, while others claim it’s not.
Let’s be pragmatic. All kinds of smoke are generally unhealthy for the human body, especially the respiratory system. Whether it is a paraffin wax candle or some other type of candle, you can’t guarantee completely that they burn clean.
Nonetheless, You cannot deny that paraffin wax is somewhat more toxic compared to natural waxes. But lighting a paraffin candle once in a while in the correct way would not harm you.
If you use paraffin wax candles as a part of your daily routine, also if you are not paying attention to providing ventilation while you burn candles, that could be something to worry about in the longer run.
Also, if you or your family members have health concerns like asthma, it is advisable not to use paraffin candles.
It’s always good to be mindful rather than being biased. Therefore it is up to you to decide whether you should use paraffin wax candles or not.
If you do use them, you have to make sure that you do it the correct way and curing enough time, and if you don’t want to use them, it’s your choice!
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