Pour Some Wax Out: Scented Candles Might Be Killing You

If I were to write a guide on how to live your best life, the chapter on the home would start with the importance of a scent in your space.

What you and a place smell like is such an underrated aspect of humanness. To tickle that sense is to push a great experience into an excellent experience. Scent is linked to one’s emotions and hormones and is a somewhat mysterious aspect of being. Still, we can all agree: when something smells good, the results are striking.

That is why I fucking love scented candles. I’ve written about the importance of candles before but I want to take this moment to reiterate: a powerful, subtle, beautiful candle burning in a room elevates the space. Perhaps this is a hidden homosexual home and decor super power but it really works.

…but these little scent factories might be killing you. I’ve been thinking about this for months thanks to some recent findings that scented candles might be filling your nose with carcinogens. As The Telegraph reported, the main culprit is limonene, a flavor that helps with adding a lemon scent. Limonene is safe enough when used in foods but, when released in the air, something happens that transforms the chemical “into formaldehyde.” That’s bad, obviously. Household plants might reduce the risk but there is nevertheless a risk.

It doesn’t end there either: The Daily Mail via Popsugar reported last year that hazardous chemicals in candles, air fresheners, etc. can cause general damage or tumors to form in the lungs. The issue is particularly threatening for pregnant mothers, too.

If there is any silver lining of candle scented hope, it’s that these studies are too specific and somewhat narrow to tell when too much candling is too much. The question of scented candle toxicity has been asked so much that Snopes took on the problem deeming the matter a non-issue and to use candles in moderation. Sure, if you are huffing a candle all day, that is bad. But if you huff anything all day, something bad will likely happen.

Moral of the story: go with quality candles and don’t let them burn all the time. You should probably stay away from lemon and citrus scented items too.

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