Healthy living * Allergies and hay fever

Candlelit baths are relaxing, deadly

maybe not such a good idea Paraffin wax cancer risk

Creating a relaxing ambience at home by lighting candles isn't just a potential fire hazard, it could be the source of air pollution and even carcinogens, according to a new study.

In a report presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists said that burning common household candles in enclosed, unventilated spaces can cause the build up of dangerous chemicals. This is because most candles are made using paraffin wax, which is a byproduct of petroleum and can give off pollutants.

The occasional candle used to light a meal will not be a source of any danger. But daily exposure in a space such as a bathroom could result in an unhealthy build up.

Beside the more serious risks, the scientists also suggested that some people who believe they have an indoor allergy or respiratory irritation may in fact be reacting to air pollutants from burning candles.

Candles made from bees' wax or soy, although more expensive, do not release the toxins produced by paraffin based candles and could represent a safer alternative.

Some tips on safe candle use

  • Always keep lighted candles in view
  • Keep candles away from anything that can easily catch fire such as curtains
  • Children and pets don't mix with candles - keep them apart!
  • Use the right holder for the candle
  • Lit candles should be placed on stable, heatproof surfaces
  • Candles should not be placed in drafts or near fans BUT should be used in well ventilated rooms
  • When finished, make sure that the candle is completely extinguished with no glowing embers in the wick

This article was published on Thu 20 August 2009

Image © gajatz -

Related Stories

Use this story

Link to this page
Printer friendly version

Share this page