Tis’ the season for gift giving and candles are often a simple and tasteful gift.
Candles are big business.
I was not surprised to learn that the global Candle Market was valued USD 6.8 Billion in 2021, but I am sometimes baffled by their prices. I recently got back from a trip to New York City. I popped into a popular Soho store selling colorful and fragrant candles, starting at $40 a pop. However, there was a “deal”— 3 candles for $100. A “steal” right?
Coming from Dallas, nothing about these prices shock me. These days, candles can range in price from $12 to an upwards tune of $500. One would expect a candle that expensive to be able to light itself and do cartwheels, but alas, high end brands have that sort of appeal.
What does a candle have to do with health?
Eleven years ago, in my very early twenties, I was a young entrepreneur living in a small little apartment. I often lit candles to keep me company. There was something about a dancing flame that felt like a friend and I was always impressed how inviting a candle into my space could completely elevate a room. Candles are a mood. They can also be quite problematic.
A few months into my single entrepreneur life, I started noticing that for the first time ever, I appeared to have developed allergies. I chalked it up to being new in Dallas. People in Dallas are always complaining about their allergies. Then one day I was staring up at my ceiling at noticed the ceiling fan was covered in black soot. It made sense, I had just never been in a small enough and closed in spot to realize what was happening as I burned my candles.
Candles are such a common staple in many homes, most of us do not give it any thought as to what we are actually breathing into our lungs as we light them and enjoy their fragrant dance. It is, however, something to be aware of.
If you start googling “candle toxicity” you will find that the topic is quite popular and also controversial, with no “real” evidence that candles could be harming your health. However, what we inhale is important and this is evident simply by recognizing the difference between taking a deep breath of the clear air on a mountain on a crisp Montana day, versus good old NYC.
In 2001, United States Environmental Protection Agency posted a report about potential sources of indoor pollution, including candles and incense. While it makes perfect sense that inhaling smoke, of any kind is not ideal, especially for those with allergies and asthma, but we want to be vigilant of is “what” we are actually burning 1.
I love a candle but now I look for candle companies that are transparent about their ingredients. When shopping, look at what the base of the candle is made from, choosing a 100% plant-based wax (soy, coconut, beeswax), over a paraffin wax (derived from petroleum), or “blend”. Next up, look at the source of the fragrance. The candle industry is not heavily regulated, so unless your candle is made of 100% essential oils, you could be breathing in synthetic carcinogenic ingredients.
Whether you are regularly lighting candles, be sure to enjoy them in a well ventilated space. Even if you are not lighting your fancy candles, be aware of the synthetic fragrances you allow in your space. A $200 candle may look snazzy but at what price to your overall well-being?
P.S. There are a lot of great smelling, non-toxic candles. Try popping by the farmers market here in Dallas. “Abundantly Aromatic” is a family owned, natural candle company. No frills. But great smells. If you are looking for something a bit more sleek, “Enlighten Candles Arizona” may be an option for you, but take a peak online, there are plenty to choose from. This year, give a gift that will not only elevate the mood, but prove to be non-toxic and sustainable too.
Hey… if you’ve already purchased your fancy candle I am sure it is adorable… just be aware of what you are breathing.