IAQ Concerns: Candles

IAQ Concerns: CandlesCandles have never been more popular as an accent item in home decor. As they burn, they add a romantic, warm touch to the ambiance; scented candles in particular are valued not only for their soothing nose appeal, but also for their benefits in the practice of aromatherapy.

Unfortunately, lighting candles has a down side when it comes to your indoor air quality. As candles burn, they give off soot, which is breathed in by the home’s occupants. Depending on the kind of candle you’re burning, you may be inhaling some particularly toxic chemicals.

Paraffin-based and Your IAQ

The majority of candles manufactured today are made from paraffin, a petroleum product. When the candle burns it gives off carcinogens such as benzene, toluene and formaldehyde.

Scented candles are even worse. The wicks of scented candles sometimes contain lead, even though it was supposed to have been banned in candle manufacture in this country some years ago due to the harm they can cause children. The artificial scents and dyes also give off chemicals when burning, adding to the bad air mix.

All these chemicals build up to dangerous levels in your home’s atmosphere after the candle burns just an hour or so. It’s best when burning paraffin-based candles to put them out after they have burned for an hour.

Another problem with paraffin candles is that they give off petro-soot, which is as dangerous to breathe as second-hand smoke, and can cause cancer. Further, the soot can be drawn into your HVAC system, and will dirty your air filter, necessitating a change much sooner than you would need to otherwise. The soot may also line the walls of your ductwork, so that the chemicals may continue to be distributed in your home’s air, long after you’ve stopped burning the candles.

Other Choices

Fortunately, you can opt for soy or beeswax candles, which are safer to breathe. Beeswax candles even give off negative ions, which can help improve your indoor air quality.

Want to learn more about improving indoor air quality? Contact CCAC of Corpus Christi.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about your HVAC system, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 361-678-2495.  

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    David Mathewst David Mathews is the owner of CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating. A Corpus Christi native... More »