The Dark Side of Fragrance in Candles


Candles have been a household staple for centuries, creating a relaxing ambiance in any living space. However, most candles on the market today contain fragrance, which can have some alarming effects on our health and the environment. While enjoying the sweet scent of a candle may seem harmless, we often forget that we are inhaling chemicals that can cause respiratory issues and even long-term health problems. In this blog post, we explore the science behind the concerns of using fragrance in candles, why companies don't need to disclose their chemical ingredients, and how you can make informed decisions to protect your health and the environment.

Hidden Health Issues of Phthalates

Fragrance in candles is not just limited to essential oils or plant extracts. Most candles on the market today contain synthetic fragrance oils or chemicals that give them their signature scent. These fragrance oils typically contain phthalates, a class of chemicals used to make plastic more flexible, but also have been linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, and developmental problems. However, companies are not required to disclose what specific chemicals they use in their fragrance formulas. Instead, they can hide these ingredients under the umbrella term "fragrance" on their ingredient list, leaving consumers in the dark about what they are inhaling.

What Are VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)?

When burning a candle with fragrance additives, the heat causes the fragrance molecules to evaporate and disperse into the air. These chemicals can be inhaled and absorbed by our bodies, leading to a wide range of negative health effects. Studies have found that candles with fragrance can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can irritate the eyes, lungs and lead to respiratory problems. The American Lung Association states that VOCs can be up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors, leading to a buildup of potentially harmful chemicals in our breathing space.

Researchers Focus On Low-level Carcinogen Theories Behind Fragrance

One study from the University of South Carolina found that burning candles with fragrance for just a few hours led to the release of cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and toluene. These chemicals can be low-level carcinogens, meaning they can increase the risk of cancer development over time. Another study from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that burning candles with fragrance could lead to a buildup of particulate matter in the air. Particulate matter can be harmful to the respiratory system and cause respiratory issues like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

Takeaway: Skip The Products That Use "Fragrance"

While the sweet aroma of a candle can be tempting, it's essential to understand the science behind the chemicals we are inhaling when we burn candles with synthetic fragrances. Companies may not be required to disclose specific ingredients on their ingredient labels, but it's up to us as consumers to educate ourselves and make informed decisions about the products we bring into our homes. Choosing candles made with natural essential oils or opting for fragrance-free options is a simple way to protect our health and the environment. As we strive to be more environmentally friendly consumers, let's make sure we don't neglect our respiratory health in the process.