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Candle Lovers Beware - All Candles Are Not Created Equal

Aug 17, 2007
What could define a loving home environment better than the smell of a burning scented candle? Imagine walking into your home on a cold winter's evening and being greeted by the aroma of French Vanilla or Gingerbread. It paints a warm, inviting picture; doesn't it? Would you be shocked to find out that soot particles from 98% of candles sold in the United States today contain many of the same compounds as those given off when burning diesel fuel?

I was shocked to learn that these candles introduce pollutants and sometimes even carcinogens into your home. So much for ambiance! Unfortunately, most consumers are not aware of candle ingredients and most candles, unless they're labeled to the contrary, are manufactured using paraffin wax. One reason for our ignorance regarding paraffin and its dangers is that candle makers are not required to list ingredients on their candles. Even when they are listed, they are often worded so that buyers are lead to feel as though they are purchasing healthy, aromatherapy candles when, in fact, the candle is mostly petroleum wax.

Paraffin wax is made from petroleum wastes which have been bleached. It has long been popular for candle making because it's cheap, relatively easy to work withy and has a colorless translucence that is beneficial when creating different types of candles. The ugly reality is that it also produces smoke and soot and, according to the American Environmental Protection Agency, releases carcinogens such as benzene and toluene as well as other toxic substances into your home when burned. Again, these hazards are not required to be disclosed on candle warning labels.

Can you protect your family from these dangers and still burn candles in your home? Rest assured, the answer to that question is yes. There are safe solutions available to you. One of the most popular alternatives today is soy wax. Produced from soy beans, it burns cleaner than paraffin wax, emits almost no soot and is a renewable resource. The purchase of soy wax also supports the American farmer instead of the oil conglomerates. Soy candles burn cooler and longer, and produce no known carcinogens, which make them a better value for the money when compared to similar-sized paraffin candles.

The next time you purchase candles for your family home or as a gift for another household, check the labels carefully. Please make choices that will keep the indoor air quality safe for humans and their pets. What could define a loving home environment better than the smell of a healthy burning scented candle?
About the Author
Joanne Chaney is a WAHM and candle maker (http://www.cwsoy.ws) living in Meadow Vista, California, with her husband and two children who now only breathe soy candles!
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