Lighting candles in your Richmond, Kentucky home is an easy and affordable way to create a soft, soothing ambiance. With scented candles, you can also give your living environment any fragrance of your choosing. Realtors use candles to impart the inviting aroma of fresh-baked goods when showing their listings. Couples use candles to create an atmosphere of romance, and aromatherapy enthusiasts rely on them for sleep support, energy boosts, and stress relief.

However, burning candles inside your home is one of the worst things that you can do for your indoor air quality (IAQ). This is especially true if you burn the wrong type. Following is everything you need to know about how candles affect your IAQ.

Burning Candles Release Soot and Harmful Gases

If you have scented candles in clear or light-colored glass holders, pay attention to how the rims of these holders darken as your candles burn low. Over time, these containers will accumulate a thick, black coating of greasy soot. This is the soot that adheres to the hot, residual wax that remains at their core. The rest is released into your indoor air.

Burning candles are a major contributor to indoor air pollution. Not only do they release soot, but they also emit minute amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) gas. Although a single candle won’t release enough CO to make anyone sick, burning multiple candles in a small, poorly ventilated room can.

Low-Cost, Low-Quality Candles Are the Worst

When burning candles inside of your home, it’s important to pay attention to what they’re made from. Most candles sold in stores are largely composed of paraffin wax. Paraffin is a byproduct of petroleum. In fact, it’s what remains after the oil and gas have been extracted. It’s a synthetic petrochemical that’s known to contribute to the development of ailments such as asthma, allergies, and cancer.

By bleaching it and incorporating a number of stabilizing chemicals, candle manufacturers are able to use this low-cost, low-quality material to make eye-catching and often aromatic candles that people burn in their homes. Unfortunately, the soot particles that paraffin candles produce enter the deepest areas of the respiratory tract.

Candles Can Fill Your Home With Lead

Burning paraffin candles indoors can also result in higher than safe concentrations of lead. This is due to the inexpensive metal rings that hold their wicks upright. If using candles in your home for ambiance or light, it’s important to choose options that have paper or braided cotton wicks that don’t require this extra support.

The Problem With Scented Candles

Scented candles pose all of the same risks that unscented, paraffin candles do. They introduce soot and minute amounts of CO gas. If they have metal wick supporters, they also release lead into the indoor air. However, the heavy, artificial fragrances that many scented candles contain may create a host of additional problems. Depending upon the chemicals that are used to arrive at individual fragrances, these candles can:

  • Act as hormone and puberty disruptors
  • Cause or exacerbate asthma and allergies
  • Alter hormone profiles
  • Induce early onset menopause
  • Cause severe lung, skin, and eye irritation

The more chemicals that are added to candles as a means for enhancing their color, scent, or burning times, the more harmful they become to both humans and your air quality in general. It’s also important to note that many of the chemicals that are used in candle production undergo significant and potentially harmful chemical reactions when exposed to high and constant heat.

How Burning Candles Affects Your HVAC System

Just as buildups of soot can be harmful to your lungs, these accumulations can also be incredibly harmful to your HVAC system. Burning candles can lead to build-ups of soot and other particulates within your HVAC ductwork and on the sensitive, interior components of your heating and cooling equipment.

Pets and Indoor Candle Use

Indoor candle use can also have a negative impact on any pets living in your home. In fact, smaller pets and certain animal species may be far more vulnerable to the negative effects of indoor candle use than humans. This remains true even when natural essential oils are used in place of artificial fragrances, and when candles are made from non-petroleum-derived materials such as soy or beeswax.

Indoor candle use can make it difficult for small animals to breathe and may affect their vision. Many veterinarians assert that some candle fragrances can actually be toxic to certain animals. For instance, pet owners are strongly advised against burning candles scented with pine, peppermint, citrus, cinnamon, or sweet birch around their dogs.

How to Minimize Indoor Pollution When Burning Candles

Given their impact on IAQs, candles aren’t the ideal choice for creating a soft, comfortable ambiance in your home. It’s far better to use layered, adaptable lighting such as wall sconces paired with dimmable overhead lights. You can also invest in battery-powered, flameless candles.

However, if you can’t give your scented candles up, go for paraffin-free options that are made from beeswax or soy. Choose products that are scented with natural, organic essential oils rather than artificial fragrances. Moreover, limit your use of candles as much as possible, and try to keep your home well-ventilated while burning them.

At Affordable Service Solutions Heating & Air Conditioning, we’ve been proudly serving residents of Richmond, Kentucky since 2012. We offer heater, heat pump, and air conditioner installation, maintenance, and repairs. We also provide indoor air quality services and preventative maintenance agreements. If you’ve got IAQ concerns, we’ve got answers. Give us a call today.

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