My appreciation for candles started later in life. As a child in an Asian household, the only time we really used a candle was for birthdays: Asians don’t like extraneous scents floating around the house unless it’s from cooking or incense. Maybe that was indicative of just my own unscented upbringing, but either way, candles were not a part of my daily routine.
Fast forward to present day, and you can find me eagerly lighting up a candle any chance I can. Something as innocuous as a prettily scented standard candle can’t possibly be bad for me, right?
Wrong. Apparently, candles are made from the worst kind of materials imaginable: paraffin, scent ingredients from undisclosed origins, and wicks containing lead. The result is a veritable venomous vichyssoise that releases cancer-causing benzene and central nervous system-damaging toluene, which is supposedly banned in nail polish* but not in candles, the residue from which we breathe once burnt. Sneaky, sneaky motha*uckers, I see you.
*if you read this article, many nail polishes that claim to be “toluene-free” are actually not. Big brother is nigh!
So quick summary: don’t buy standard scented candles. In fact, I would go so far as to not buy any candles anymore… it just isn’t worth the risk.
However, if you really must get your burn on, consider these two natural, albeit pricier (health is expensive!) alternatives:
- Soy: a plant-based candle like a soy candle will burn clean and lasts pretty long as well. Look for “100% soy” on the label, as some brands might tout to be a soy-based candle but have “filler” ingredients mixed in. Buyer, always beware!
- Beeswax: this is your very best option for buying a candle: beeswax itself has a light-honey smell when burned, so a scented one is really optional. They are definitely pricey but are worth the extra moolah. Don’t you care about your lungs? As with soy candles, be sure to look for “100% beeswax” on the label, since there will be candle phantoms looking to ca$h in on the beeswax/soy market by simply mixing a thimble of the stuff in it. Pure evil, I tell you.
It’s also fairly simple to make your own candles! Check out this nifty Instructables guide and get your candle-making on!
Also, my next pick would be to buy a water-based essential oil diffuser that releases a calming stream of lovely scented water vapor into the air. My fave is the Muji Ultrasonic Cool Mist Aroma Humidifier, which keeps your air moist and smelling great at the same time. #multitasking!