Are Your Scented Candles and Air Fresheners Making You Sick?

essential oils Feb 20, 2018

For many of us, candles and air fresheners are a household staple. We want our home to smell good and these are convenient, easy-to-find, affordable solutions. But did you know that they could be damaging your health and making you sick?

Many candles, unless they’re made of 100% natural waxes, contain paraffin wax. This wax, when burned, gives off the same vapors as diesel fuel exhaust—yuck! And not only is the wax an issue, but on average, 30% of candles have wicks that contain heavy metals. Then there’s the ingredients of air fresheners, where one-quarter are classified as toxic or hazardous.

Many people don’t think twice before lighting a candle or spraying an air freshener. Studies have found, however, that residual chemicals from products like these, “contain toxic chemicals that accumulate in ever-increasing amounts in the human body over a period of time, so the health consequences are rarely attributed to them.”

The harmful chemicals these products contain can cause an array of hormonal, behavioral and general health issues.

With most air fresheners and candles, you’ll find things like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, phthalates, and 1,4 dichlorobenzene.

In the case of VOCs, the EPA states, “Depending on your exposure and sensitivity, toxic VOCs can produce a range of health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and headaches, and even damage to [the] liver, kidney and central nervous system.”

Formaldehyde—a carcinogen—can cause a range of health problems from irritation and coughing to bronchitis and dizziness. In a 2015 study published in Science of The Total Environment, researchers tested formaldehyde in air fresheners. They found that in electric air fresheners, the formaldehyde emissions were 17% on the Critical Exposure Limit.

Phthalates—which are used to dissolve and carry fragrance—have been linked to hormonal problems, poor semen quality, birth defects and reproductive issues. And according to the National Institute of Health, a type of phthalate called Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, which is found in scented products like air fresheners, is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

Then there’s 1,4 dichlorobenzene—the primary ingredient in mothballs, room deodorizers and urinal cakes—and known to reduce lung function, according to the National Institute of Health.

What’s a safe alternative to candles and air fresheners then?

I use an essential oil diffuser and swear by it. It’s safe, healthy, and effective, and a great way to scent your house. Plus, you can craft practically any scent you want just by blending different oils, and once you get tired of a scent, you can change it up.

That said, I only use the purest essential oils on the market, and recommend you do too. These oils are certified pure therapeutic grade and the highest quality I’ve ever encountered.

To find out more and learn how I can support you in creating a safer home environment, visit:


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