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Do Candles Affect Indoor Air Quality?

A candle can be a great way to improve the smell of your bathroom or add a warm touch of décor to your living or bedroom. Yet too many people do not realize the risks associated with candles. Other than posing an obvious fire hazard, you may not be aware that candles also affect indoor air quality.

The Cost of Your Candle

According to an EPA report released all the way back in 2001, studies indicate that candles with added scents may cause chemical reactions, releasing compounds including formaldehyde, acrolein, nitrogen dioxide, and acetaldehyde. The EPA further warned that the concentration in which these substances were being released may exceed safe levels for indoor usage. One particular study conducted at South Carolina State University also concluded that paraffin candles can release toxic levels of toluene and benzene, both of which can intensify asthma and respiratory issues, and even help lead to certain types of cancers.

However, even if that candle you are burning isn’t releasing toxic chemicals, it may still be harmful for your indoor air quality. Cheaper candles that do not burn all the way, typically the ones releasing added smells, have been known to cause soot—the black smoke which can stain walls, furniture, and fabric. Research has found that soot is one of the primary causes of indoor ultrafine particles, or UFPs. UFPs are tiny residue particles which can easily enter your lung tissue, prompting breathing issues and other health problems.

Is There a Safer Way to Burn Candles?

Anyone that burns a lot of candles is putting their indoor air quality at risk. However, if you are going to use candles, there are safer ways to use them sparingly, which cut down on the risks to your health and the quality of your air.

If you use candles, make sure to:

  • Avoid buying toxic candles: Although it can be hard to find candles with no added chemicals, those made from beeswax rather than paraffin are usually best. Try to avoid buying scented candles as well, as these contain the most added chemicals. And whatever you do, never buy a candle with a metal insert, as the combination of the metal and the burning is extremely bad for your air quality.
  • Never burn candles in an unventilated space: Even if you’re only going to open the window a crack, it’s better than letting a candle burn down without any ventilation. This will at least allow any harmful chemicals being released to dissipate.
  • Reduce the amount of soot: To reduce the amount of soot your candle produces, purchase candles with a thin wick, and try to trim that wick about a fourth of an inch before each time you light it.
  • Keep candle use to 1-2 hours per day: Limited candle use should be okay, just make sure to blow it out after a few hours. Lighting a candle to add a little atmosphere over dinner makes sense, but letting candles burn all night for long periods at a time is extremely dangerous, posing both a fire and an air quality hazard.
  • Consider purchasing an air purifier or other services: Buying a whole home air purifier can go a long way to getting rid of pollutants caused by candles and other sources. You can also call our Palm Beach County HVAC pros at Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC for air filters, UV air cleaning, or duct cleaning if you are looking for other savvy ways to invest in better air quality.

For indoor air quality options and all your other HVAC needs, call Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC today at (561) 270-6181, or contact us online. 24/7 emergency service is available.