Can Scented Candles Cause Coughing? – Find Out Here

Scented candles are very popular at the moment, but do they cause coughing?

Many people have reported issues with them, which has led to the question of should they be banned?

So what is the answer? Find out with help of this article

What Is Candle?

A candle is an ignitable wick embedded in wax, or another flammable solid substance such as tallow, that provides light, and in some cases, a fragrance.

A candle can also provide heat or a method of keeping time.

A person who makes candles is traditionally known as a chandler.Various devices have been invented to hold candles, from simple tabletop candlesticks, also known as candle holders, to elaborate candelabra and chandeliers.

For a candle to burn, a heat source (commonly a naked flame from a match or lighter) is used to light the candle’s wick, which melts and vaporizes a small amount of fuel (the wax). Once vaporized, the fuel combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to ignite and form a constant flame.

This flame provides sufficient heat to keep the candle burning via a self-sustaining chain of events: the heat of the flame melts the top of the mass of solid fuel; the liquefied fuel then moves upward through the wick via capillary action; the liquefied fuel finally vaporizes to burn within the candle’s flame.

As the fuel (wax) is melted and burned, the candle becomes shorter. Portions of the wick that are not emitting vaporized fuel are consumed in the flame.

The incineration of the wick limits the length of the exposed portion of the wick, thus maintaining a constant burning temperature and rate of fuel consumption. Some wicks require regular trimming with scissors (or a specialized wick trimmer), usually to about one-quarter inch (~0.7 cm), to promote slower, steady burning, and also to prevent smoking.

Special candle-scissors called “snuffers” were produced for this purpose in the 20th century and were often combined with an extinguisher. In modern candles, the wick is constructed so that it curves over as it burns.

This ensures that the end of the wick gets oxygen and is then consumed by fire—a self-trimming wick.

Is it unsafe for your Health to burn scented candles?

When burned, paraffin wax can release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air including acetone, benzene and toluene, which are known carcinogens.

These are the same chemicals found in diesel fuel emissions and are known to cause allergies, asthma attacks and skin problems.

Will scented candles make you cough?

When these little tiny particles get into our lungs they can cause everything from coughing and wheezing to acute health issues like heart attacks or stroke.

According to Nolen these candles emit the type of particle pollution that could contribute to these dangerous side effects.

Do scented candles have the potential to cause breathing issues?

Commonly emitted VOCs related to the scent in candles include formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, alcohol and esters.

These harmful chemicals can cause health problems ranging from headaches, dizziness and allergy symptoms to asthma attacks, respiratory tract infections and even cancer.

Will scented candles give you a sore throat?

Scented candles may trigger allergic reactions. The symptoms include itchy and watery eyes, sore throat, blocked nasal passages, headaches, hives, skin irritations and asthma-like conditions.

People with asthma and respiratory allergies may experience more severe reactions.

Will scented candles trigger eye irritation?

Candles and Air Fresheners Unfortunately, a number of potentially hazardous chemicals are commonly used in fragrance, including acetone, Linalool, and benzaldehyde which can irritate your eyes, skin, lungs, and cause other health conditions.

Scented Candles – Secret Risks

Scented candles are a popular way to create a pleasant ambiance at home.

Scents such as lavender, jasmine and sandalwood can be relaxing and invigorating. And during the holidays, many people find the warm glow and aroma of pine, gingerbread or cinnamon makes a room more festive.

Unfortunately, most mass-produced scented candles can have a negative impact on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).

From the wax to the wick to the fragrance itself, the average scented candle can release harmful chemicals into the air — even when unlit.

So while you and your family enjoy the fragrance of scented candles in your home, they may be damaging your health.

Paraffin wax

Most candles are made from paraffin, a petroleum byproduct.

To create paraffin, petroleum waste is chemically bleached, deodorized and made into wax. When burned, paraffin wax can release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air including acetone, benzene and toluene, which are known carcinogens. These are the same chemicals found in diesel fuel emissions and are known to cause allergies, asthma attacks and skin problems.

A study by the University of South Florida showed that candles made of paraffin wax emit low levels of benzene even when they are not lit.

In addition to releasing toxic chemicals, burning paraffin wax produces soot with particles that can remain suspended in the air for hours.

The University of South Florida study showed that these ultrafine soot particles are similar to diesel exhaust in both their size and composition. They penetrate deeply into the lungs and are absorbed into the blood stream.

Ultrafine particles are associated with allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases, as well as heart attacks, strokes and even cancer and a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that soot emissions from candles containing fragrances are significantly higher than those from non-scented candles.

Chemical fragrances

Another problem with scented candles is that the chemicals they use to create a pleasing aroma are generally far from wholesome.

Most scented candles use synthetic fragrances and dyes that give off dangerous VOCs even at room temperature.

Commonly emitted VOCs related to the scent in candles include formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, alcohol and esters.

These harmful chemicals can cause health problems ranging from headaches, dizziness and allergy symptoms to asthma attacks, respiratory tract infections and even cancer.

Cored wicks

Many candles have cored wicks made from cotton that is wrapped around a metal support. The design helps keep the wick from falling over into the wax. This is especially useful for scented candles, because the fragrance oils soften the wax and allow non-cored wicks to go limp.

In the past, lead was commonly used in cored candlewicks — especially in candles imported from overseas. However, after determining that these wicks could present a lead poisoning hazard to young children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the manufacture and sale of all candles with lead-core wicks in 2003.

Now, zinc and tin are generally used instead. However, all metal-core wicks release trace amounts of heavy metals into the air when they are burned. And wicks with zinc and tin cores can still release small amounts of lead particles.

Safer alternatives

If you still crave the pleasant ambiance and aroma of scented candles, don’t despair. There are safer ways to scent the air. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Use essential oils for fragrance. Essential oils can be placed in a diffuser or in bathwater to create a wonderful aroma.
  2. Simmer spices. Place spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg in a pot of water and let it simmer on the stove.
  3. Create potpourri. Dried items such as flowers, berries, fruit rinds, wood chips and spices can be placed in bowls or fabric bags and placed around your home.

If you’re finding yourself inclined to reduce the amount of particulate matter in your environment but can’t seem to put the candles away the best thing you can do is reduce the amount of time you burn them.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how long it’s safe to burn a candle before it starts causing any trouble (the research just isn’t there) but in Nolen’s opinion, “the longer they burn the more they’re producing pollution,” so try to not to burn them all day long.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to make sure you properly ventilate whenever you do burn candles. It won’t pull all the pollutants out, but it’s better than doing nothing.

To summarize, candles are no longer made with lead-core wicks, their wax is non-toxic, and you don’t need to feel bad for enjoying their delicious scents (unless you have asthma or allergies).

So unless you are concerned about the PM or VOCs in your home you’re good to let them burn. And if you are concerned, Nolen recommends electric candles for ambiance.

Are Scented Candles Bad? – Find Out Here

When you think of candles, you probably think of warm, flickering flames and the delightful scents they emit. But did you know that the scents you enjoy in most candles are completely artificial?

For the most part, candles are made of paraffin wax, a petroleum-based product that does not burn cleanly.

At best, a candle can emit 20 percent of its scent out the wick; the remaining 80 percent ends up in the wax, which is ultimately coated in a fine layer of soot.

Scented candles can sometimes do more harm than good and may contain potentially harmful ingredients, so consider the following before bringing another candle home.

3 Hidden Risks Of Scented Candles

Scented candles are a popular way to create a pleasant ambiance at home. Scents such as lavender, jasmine, and sandalwood can be relaxing and invigorating.

And during the holidays, many people find the warm glow and aroma of pine, gingerbread or cinnamon makes a room more festive. Unfortunately, most mass-produced scented candles can have a negative impact on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).

From the wax to the wick to the fragrance itself, the average scented candle can release harmful chemicals into the air — even when unlit.

So while you and your family enjoy the fragrance of scented candles in your home, they may be damaging your health.

1. Paraffin wax

Most candles are made from paraffin, a petroleum byproduct. To create paraffin, petroleum waste is chemically bleached, deodorized and made into wax.

When burned, paraffin wax can release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air including acetone, benzene and toluene, which are known carcinogens.

These are the same chemicals found in diesel fuel emissions and are known to cause allergies, asthma attacks and skin problems.

A study by the University of South Florida showed that candles made of paraffin wax emit low levels of benzene even when they are not lit.

In addition to releasing toxic chemicals, burning paraffin wax produces soot with particles that can remain suspended in the air for hours.

The University of South Florida study showed that these ultrafine soot particles are similar to diesel exhaust in both their size and composition.

They penetrate deeply into the lungs and are absorbed into the blood stream. Ultrafine particles are associated with allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases, as well as heart attacks, strokes and even cancer.

And a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that soot emissions from candles containing fragrances are significantly higher than those from non-scented candles.

2. Chemical fragrances

Another problem with scented candles is that the chemicals they use to create a pleasing aroma are generally far from wholesome.

Most scented candles use synthetic fragrances and dyes that give off dangerous VOCs even at room temperature.

Commonly emitted VOCs related to the scent in candles include formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, alcohol and esters.

These harmful chemicals can cause health problems ranging from headaches, dizziness and allergy symptoms to asthma attacks, respiratory tract infections and even cancer.

3. Cored wicks

Many candles have cored wicks made from cotton that is wrapped around a metal support. The design helps keep the wick from falling over into the wax.

This is especially useful for scented candles, because the fragrance oils soften the wax and allow non-cored wicks to go limp.

In the past, lead was commonly used in cored candlewicks — especially in candles imported from overseas.

However, after determining that these wicks could present a lead poisoning hazard to young children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the manufacture and sale of all candles with lead-core wicks in 2003.

Now, zinc and tin are generally used instead. However, all metal-core wicks release trace amounts of heavy metals into the air when they are burned.

And wicks with zinc and tin cores can still release small amounts of lead particles.

The fragrances used in scented candles are extremely hazardous to human health.

OK, so the wick is fine, and the wax is harmless, but what about the fragrance in scented candles? There’s no way that apple-pie and fresh vanilla ice cream scent doesn’t contain carcinogens right?

Well, again, wrong. Yes it’s true that the fragrances which make candles so enticing are made with chemicals (it’s not surprising you can’t pack a pine tree forest into some wax) but all of these fragrances typically conform to safety standards established by the International Fragrance Association, which ensures that chemicals used are non-toxic and safe for human use.

The caveat with scented candles is that while the fragrance itself may be safe, it can cause problems for certain populations.

According to Janice Nolen, the Assistant Vice President of National Policy at the American Lung Association, “just the scents alone, for people with asthma for example, can cause problems with breathing.”

Nolen recommends skipping scented products altogether (yes, air freshners and oil diffusers included) but urges that extreme only with particularly vulnerable populations like young kids, asthmatics, and adults over 65 definitely stay away).

The Major Issue With Scented Candles

Scented candles are one of the easiest and most effective ways to mask unpleasant odors in your home. They’re a go-to when creating a relaxing ambiance to unwind after a long work day or while taking a warm bubble bath.

But one of the main problems with scented candles is the scent itself.

According to Anne Steinemann, an environmental pollutants expert who is a professor of civil engineering and the chair of sustainable cities at the University of Melbourne, certain candles may emit numerous types of potentially hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and toluene.

They can cause damage to the brain, lung and central nervous system, as well as cause developmental difficulties.

“I have heard from numerous people who have asthma that they can’t even go into a store if the store sells scented candles, even if they aren’t being burned,” Steinemann added.

“They emit so much fragrance that they can trigger asthma attacks and even migraines.”

Researchers at South Carolina State University tested both petroleum-based paraffin wax candles and vegetable-based candles that were non-scented, non-pigmented and free of dyes.

Their 2009 report concluded that while the vegetable-based candles didn’t produce any potentially harmful pollutants, the paraffin candles “released unwanted chemicals into the air,” said chemistry professor Ruhullah Massoudi in a statement.

“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,” Massoudi said.

The National Candle Association refutes these claims, stating in a comment to The Huffington Post: “The safety of scented candles is backed by decades of research, fragrance testing and a history of safe use. The fragrances approved for candle usage — whether synthesized or ‘natural’ — do not release toxic chemicals.

Health and safety studies are conducted for fragrance materials used in candles, including toxicological and dermatological tests.”

It may be shocking to think that your favorite candles could potentially be bad for you, and made worse by added fragrances.

Steinemann said for some people, the effects are “immediate, acute and severe,” while others may not realize they are being effected until they gradually develop health issues.

Though the risk to you may be small, there are alternatives. Steinemann suggests going the unscented route, avoiding “even those with essential oils, as they can potentially have hazardous chemicals,” she said.

“It’s almost like air fresheners with the fragrance just sitting there … permeating surfaces in the room.”

Safer Options

If you still crave the pleasant ambiance and aroma of scented candles, don’t despair. There are safer ways to scent the air. Here are some suggestions:

For Scent, Use Essential Oils.

Essential oils can be placed in a diffuser or in bathwater to create a wonderful aroma.

Simmer Spices

Place spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg in a pot of water and let it simmer on the stove.

Make Potpourri

Dried items such as flowers, berries, fruit rinds, wood chips, and spices can be placed in bowls or fabric bags and placed around your home.