Sweet Smelling Dangers

I walked in to a friend’s house last week and her house smelled so good. I asked her what she was baking, it smelled like vanilla.It turned out that she had lit candles to create a relaxing and ambient atmosphere. The perfect interior setting, pleasing to the eyes, and the nose. I wanted to be stay as long as I could.

As I look around and bask in the sweet smell, and thought to myself, what a great idea. It looks good and smells good. But at the back of my mind I wondered,  are these candles safe? Is burning essential oils safer? Are they any “safer” choices?


Candles are so pretty and add warmth to a space. Most spas, restaurants, hospitality  places use candles or scents to create effects to interior spaces. Intrigued, I did a little research and found that there are many types of candles and they all have some level of toxicity.

Much of the candles and incense sticks made these days use artificial fragrances, which have toxic ingredients. When candles burn, they release chemicals such as acetone, and benzene, some of these ingredients are found in nail polish remover. As much as all these candles and scents are mood enhancing, they seem to pose a real health Threat. It also turns out that burning essential oils also release some chemicals as it reacts to heat and the molecular structure of the oil changes, thus releasing toxins.

As I kept researching , I found out that even parafin candles are as dangerous as second-hand smoke. As the candles burn, they releases benzene and toluene, which are known carcinogens. Apparently it is the same toxins found in diesel fuel.

My daughter likes to buy gel making candles  and give them as gifts to her friends, and I decided to research that. They sell it for kids, I assume it would  be safe. But I was wrong, in fact, the gel candle contain petroleum with butylated hydroxyl toluene, another carcinogenic substance, which also has the tendency to explode. These candles are normally sold with spa and natural products, and with the research, I don’t find anything healthy about candles. I looked at it further and looked for alternatives.

There are safer candles, the beeswax variety. It is safer, and does not release toxins in the air. Essential Oils are healthy but not heating them, but by diffusing them. When oils are diffused or sprayed the microscopic mist benefits the body as well.

As we go about decorating our interiors and enticing our clients or friends, a little thought should be put in as to what are we exposing ourselves to. ‘Sweet smells’ do not necessarily mean ‘good’!

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