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Soy Be It: Burning Non-Toxic Candles

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For me, the perfect work environment means a cup of tea and a couple of lit candles. It creates the kind of calm that helps me to focus.

Though I used to have an affinity for the Pink Sands or Blue Hydrangea picked up in one of those scent-saturated candle stores, now I stick to more natural options, and breathe a whole lot easier.

Traditional scented candles are made with paraffin, which is a petroleum by-product. As they burn, they release toluene (also found in nail polish) and benzene, both known to cause cancer and neurological damage.

Remember formaldehyde, that liquid used to preserve lizards and frogs in biology class? Yeah, that’s usually present in candles as well. Not only is formaldehyde a carcinogen, it causes headaches and triggers asthma as well.

Those amazing apple pie and peach cobbler scents? Wouldn’t it be great to think the candle manufacturers actually stuffed those things right into the candles? Would be…but that’s not it.

Those fragrances, like any fragrances present in cosmetics, are laced with phthalates- chemical compounds linked to the disruption of hormonal systems, asthma, allergies, and autism.

What’s more, the American Chemical Society found that frequent candle burning in tight, unventilated areas has been implicated in lung cancer, asthma, and skin rashes.

When are we most likely to burn candles? This time of year, when our homes are pretty tight and unventilated.

So what’s a gal to do when she wants a little ambiance?

Fortunately, there are soy and beeswax options that are scented with pure essential oils. Look for these options in health food stores or on-line. Farmer’s markets are often a great source, too. Many of my friends who choose a vegan lifestyle prefer soy candles, so I’m working on finding organic soy options, as soy candles would be made with genetically-modified soybeans.

They’re a little pricier, but can you afford not to take care of yourself? For a few more tips, check out this piece from Healthy Child; Healthy World.

  1. Marianne
    Marianne04-20-2011

    Just be careful when buying soy candles, The FDA only requires a product to have 10% soy to be labeled a soy product. Also Parrafin gets a bad wrap I feel. Partylite has both soy (90% soy and the rest 100 % essential oils) and parrafin (FOOD grade no black soot)Clean burning all cotton- no lead (Or metal wicks) They have been in the candle business for 38 years and really do the homework for you and know their stuff!

    • 04-20-2011

      Great information, Marianne. Thanks for sharing! Does food-grade parrafin mean no petroleum?

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