Anorak News | Scare Story Of The Day: Why Smoking Candles Is Bad For You (A Daily Mail Shocker)

Scare Story Of The Day: Why Smoking Candles Is Bad For You (A Daily Mail Shocker)

by | 7th, July 2011

SCARE Story of The Day is provided by the Daily Mail’s Peta Bee, who asks readers:

“Could scented candles kill you? They’re many women’s favourite indulgence – but their fumes are as toxic as cigarettes.”

Who does Peta B (P-to-B?) think women enjoy scanted candles – during a post-coital recline? On the way how from the school run? In a pack of twenty on a night out?

Reading on we are told:

Few homes are without the wafting perfume of a scented candle from time to time. We light them to infuse a room with fragrance, to add a romantic ambiance to a meal and to make bathtimes more luxurious.

And to get a hit from their smoke.

But could the very candles used to soothe our mood actually be bad for us?


Research has shown some scented candles produce smoke laced with almost as many toxins as those produced by cigarettes.

Which candles, Peta Bee? The ones you roll yourself?

Since they are often lit in poorly ventilated rooms, such as bathrooms, or during the evening when windows are likely to be closed, the release of chemicals can cause indoor pollution that is potent enough to raise the risk of asthma, eczema and skin complaints.

Any examples?

When U.S. researchers burnt a range of candles in a laboratory for a study published two years ago, the chemicals released in harmful amounts included human carcinogens and chemicals known to cause asthma attacks, such as toluene and benzene.

Two years ago? Which means that for two years Mail readers have been risking their health with these candles! And why have they not been banned?

Dr Amid Hamidi of South Carolina University, opines:

“An occasional paraffin candle and its emissions will probably not affect you. But lighting many of them every day for years, or lighting them frequently in an unventilated bathroom, for example, may cause problems.”

So. If you light lots of scented candles in your home very day for years, you might be damaged? Anorak thinks that anyone so obsessed with the smell of hot wax and burning petunias is already beyond help and damaged in the head.

And who is Dr Hamidi? Does Bee mean the “student researcher“? And who funded this research that says soy candles are safer?

The industry has an obvious interest in keeping the focus squarely on the romance. But it also pointed out that Massoudi and Hamidi are financed by a Department of Agriculture grant under the project title “Soybean Candles for Healthy Life and Well-Being” — part of a grant system meant to fund research that could boost farm product sales.

The industry’s own report states:

“The total VOC emissions from the reference candles were very low… TVOC air levels for all wax types averaged less than 2 percent of the applicable indoor air-quality standard. No benzene emissions were detected in any of the reference candles.”

Undeterred by these facts, Bee presses on:

It’s not just the candle wax that is potentially dangerous. Top-of-the-range candles are scented with natural perfumes or essential oils. But since they are costly and difficult to add in large quantities, many of the mass-market products contain synthetic fragrances and sometimes dyes that can give off harmful particles when they are heated.

Can? Or do? Bee offers not a single example of damage caused by synthetic fragrances. Eh just depresses on, finding dangers in each part of the candle process:

Then there are the hazards of wicks.

The ones from China made of sharpened pins?

There are generally two varieties of wick: cored and non-cored. A non-cored wick, made from braided or twisted fibre, is considered the safest to burn, but can be limp and fall over in the wax, extinguishing a flame. Many candle makers use a cored wick, in which cotton is wrapped around a metal or paper core for support.

Go on:

Like anything that burns, once a candle is lit it produces soot, with particles that can remain suspended in the air for several hours.

Soot kills? Little bits of soot in the air kill? Or as the report actually out it:

“Even though the high-soot candles generally produced greater levels of emissions than the reference candles, they were still far below the most stringent of the applicable air-quality standards.”

Says Bee:

In a laboratory analysis of candles conducted for consumer magazine Proof!, the smoke from pillar-type candles and tealights purchased from supermarkets and department stores in London was analysed for traces of cadmium and lead. Almost one fifth of those tested had detectable levels of cadmium and a small number released lead.

Detectable. So. Not unsafe, then?

Bee then has some top tips for candles fanciers:

Make sure the room is well-ventilated but not with a draft.

Because the flame can gutter and set fire to your face?

Candles in a draft can produce up to 50 per cent more soot.

Which then would, presumably, dissipate faster because of the, er, draft?

And finally know that:

Add to this the fact that the fire service and insurance companies claim candles and tealights are among the leading cause of house fires in the UK, and it may be time for our love affair with scented candles to flicker out.

Ban! Candles. Now!

Spotter: June

Posted: 7th, July 2011 | In: Reviews Comments (3) | TrackBack | Permalink