Why not scented candles?
We get asked a lot whether we make and sell scented candles. We don’t, for quite a few reasons.
The primary purpose of fragrance is to impart a product's scent, mask the odour of other materials in the product and, in some cases, alter mood. But while a rose may be a rose, a ‘rose-like fragrance’ is something else entirely different. How often have you seen that one ingredient looking at you from the label? Perfume, or Fragrance, it reads. And that’s all.
What is in the perfume or fragrance used in candles?
When a product contains a ‘perfume’ or ‘fragrance’, current labelling regulations only require manufacturers to use the word ‘perfume' or 'fragrance’ without listing what’s actually in the multi-ingredient aroma. Perfumes are concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3000 stock chemicals, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden. Fragrance formulas are considered trade secrets or ‘proprietary blends’ and thus do not have to be revealed on the label.
These same regulations also do not require manufacturers to supply toxicity data before selling their products to you. The vast majority of fragrances and perfumes on the market have never been tested and are not required to be tested for toxicity on the human body before being put on the market. Some 75 per cent of all industrial chemicals traded globally lack adequate health, safety, and environmental information.
What other chemicals are in fragrances used in candles?
In addition to ‘scent’ chemicals that we smell in the candles, common ingredients in perfumes also include benzyl alcohol, acetone, linalool, ethanol, ethyl acetate, benzaldehyde, camphor, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, limonene, preservatives, dyes, synthetic musks and phthalates. These chemicals are also burning in the candle. Synthetic musks and phthalates are some of the most disturbing hormone disrupters ever created. They are directly linked to reproductive disorders, including infertility, insulin resistance, overweight/obesity, allergy, asthma, obesity and cancers. Research has found that most perfumes also contain toluene (a.k.a. methyl benzene, a clear, flammable, water-insoluble liquid with the odour of paint thinner) and can cause liver, kidney and brain damage, as well as damage to a developing foetus.
What are the health impacts of fragrances and perfume?
When companies put these fragrances into candles, there is exposure to the skin, the upper airways, and the olfactory (smell) pathways, which go directly to the brain, the lungs and our blood system.
Research tells us that about 1 in 4 people experience health problems, such as migraines and headaches, respiratory difficulties, asthma attacks, hay fever, dizziness, breathing problems, rashes, congestion, nausea and seizures, when exposed to fragranced products.
Are essential oils in candles safe, I hear you ask?
Our answer is still, no! Don’t get us wrong; we love beautiful smells as much as any person. The thing is though, all essential oils have differing compositions, and when each oil is heated/ burnt (exposed to its flash point), the results can be unpredictable and unreliable. Some will break down, some will evaporate, some will become rancid, and some will lose therapeutic benefits. These different reactions mean there's no way to guarantee the conditions of the oils in the candle, the benefits and the potential toxic hazards. A few degrees of difference here or there can vary the results significantly. It's not worth the risk to your health, children, and pets, and certainly not if you're carrying a baby. There are other ways to bring natural scents into your homes without them being toxic.
Have More Questions? Contact Happy Flame
Here at Happy Flame, we use certified organic beeswax for our candle-making endeavours – nothing added. Just the way we like it. This means - no artificial fragrances, so no health issues. The other bonus is that they help clean the air by releasing negative ions, which attract the positively charged particles in the air, such as dust and pollen. These then drop to the ground. Negative ions released by beeswax candles also uplift, giving more energy and lowering stress. We also love the simple, elegant, soothing scent bees have imbued into the wax. A touch of honey. It’s divine. What’s not to love?
Another blog you might like is about the deep meanings of The Tree of life. That blog is here.
National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (2006), Promoting safer chemical use: towards better regulation of chemicals in Australia’, National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, See www.nicas.gov.au
Fromme, H. Lahrz, T. Piloty, M. Gebhart, H. Oddoy, A. & Rueden, H. (2004) Occurrence of phthalates and musk fragrances in indoor air and dust from apartments and kindergartens in Berlin (Germany), Indoor Air, 14:188–95; López-Carrillo L, et al. (2010) Exposure to phthalates and breast cancer risk in northern Mexico, Environ Health Perspect,118(4):539-44.
Ciechanowski, P, Exposure Assessment Report: Risks to Toluene Exposure and Adverse Health (2012). Outcomes Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2312788 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2312788
Steinemann A. Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions. Air Qual Atmos Health. 2016;9(8):861-866. doi: 10.1007/s11869-016-0442-z. Epub 2016 Oct 20. PMID: 27867426; PMCID: PMC5093181.