Indoor air pollution…are your holiday candles the culprit?

When I talk about air pollution I’m not just referring to emissions from factories, exhaust from cars on the road, etc., air pollution can be found indoors as well.  Wikipedia defines air pollution as “the human introduction of chemicals, particulate matter or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or damages the natural environment, into the atmosphere.”

So what do candles have to do with air pollution?  Candles help get rid of unwanted odors and smells, right?  And during the holidays many people use candles to bring a “pleasing” scent of gingerbread, apples, pine trees, etc into their homes to help get them into a more festive holiday mood.  I mean who isn’t familiar with the fragrances of the holidays?

Image by janiejonesmt

I’ll be the first to admit there are many things I would rather smell over the holidays than something like my kid’s dirty diaper bin, etc.  However I have a very sensitive nose, so many of the fragrance products, candles, incense, etc. just aren’t an option for me.

That got me thinking….did you know when burned, most candles emit small amounts of organic chemicals such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and naphthalene?  According to an article from, candles not only release chemicals into the air, but leave black soot deposits on floors and other surfaces – and scented candles leave the most soot.

Black soot deposits or BSD can be ingested or inhaled by anyone, including small children, and can lodge in the lungs.  Some candlewicks, made from lead, even release lead dust into the air when they are burned and nobody wants that.

According to this article from probably the least harmful candles are beeswax candles which produce a natural “honey” scent without the addition of harmful chemicals.

But if you want my opinion, if you are looking to add a great aroma to your home over the holidays, without the air pollution generated from candles, turn to natural scents – make a fresh lemon spray, bring in a small or large fresh pine tree, bake some cookies, etc.  It will fill your home with a scent of the holidays.  Have a wonderful holiday!

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