How Candles Affect Indoor Air Quality

May 16, 2021
Indoor Air Quality in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Candles are often part of special celebrations, such as birthdays and holidays. Many people use them to create a relaxing or even romantic mood. For many people, the soft glow of a candle is a key part of mindfulness therapy and self-care. However, you might be surprised that burning certain types of candles could have a negative impact on your home’s indoor air quality. Keep reading to learn about the types of candles and how burning them could affect the quality of the air in your Camden, NJ, home.

Types of Candles and Their Components

There are three common types of candles that you might use in your home. The most common type is a paraffin candle. These candles are made of petroleum products. They’re inexpensive, come in a rainbow of colors and often incorporate different scents. Another type of candle is beeswax. These candles are typically the natural color of the wax, which is a golden yellow to amber color. A beeswax candle rarely has any scent added to it. That’s because the natural scent of beeswax is sweet and pleasant. Beeswax candles are the priciest type of candle. The third type of candle you might use is a soy candle. They’re made from the waxy substances left behind from the processing of soybeans. These candles are often scented with essential oils, and natural coloring agents may be added to the wax for aesthetic purposes. The price of soy candles is between that of paraffin and beeswax candles.

Higher Concentration of Particulate Matter

Burning paraffin candles releases a great deal of particulate matter into your home’s air. That’s because petroleum products often go through incomplete combustion. Both the paraffin wax and the wick will release soot particles. If you burn these candles on a daily basis, your home may develop a layer of soot particles. These sticky particles adhere to all surfaces, including the vent covers, ducts and coils of your heating and cooling system. They also obstruct your HVAC system’s air filter. If you burn paraffin candles on a regular basis, you’ll need to clean or replace your air filter every month or more frequently. Beeswax and soy candles don’t release as many particles because they’re made with organic materials that go through complete combustion when burned.

Increase in Volatile Organic Compounds

Paraffin candles release volatile organic compounds into your home’s air. Some of these chemicals include acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, toluene and formaldehyde. These chemicals are known to cause cancer in humans. They’re also proven to cause respiratory problems, especially if you’re exposed to them on a long-term basis. Soy and beeswax candles don’t release volatile organic compounds into your home’s air. If you choose to burn paraffin candles, be sure to increase your home’s ventilation while the candles are lit. Using an air purifier, whole-house fan or opening all the windows will help ventilate the volatile organic compounds to the outdoors.

Buildup of Toxic Gases

When you burn any type of candle, some toxic gases will be released. These gases include carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide. Increasing your home’s active ventilation and air filtration will help remove these gases. Paraffin candles also release dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These are potent, cancer-causing toxins even at low levels of exposure.

Exacerbation of Odor Sensitivity

Burning candles releases aromatic compounds. For some people with chemical sensitivities, these compounds may cause a type of allergic reaction. These small chemicals dissipate quickly, but they have a big impact on the quality of the air in the room where you’re burning the candle.

Worsening of Allergy or Asthma Symptoms

For people with allergies or asthma, burning any type of candle may worsen their symptoms. The aromatic compounds and particulate matter can irritate the nasal passages and throat. The volatile organic compounds may cause irritation of the eyes and skin. Inhaling these compounds may constrict or obstruct the airways, leading to difficulty breathing.

JAMCO Heating & Air Conditioning is the trusted provider of indoor air quality services in Camden. We’re also available to assist you with heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair and replacement services. We offer maintenance plans, residential new construction installation, ductless mini-splits and sheet metal fabrication. If you’re a business owner in or near Camden, let us help you with affordable commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning services. For more details about the effects of candles on your home’s indoor air quality, reach out to us at JAMCO Heating & Air Conditioning today.

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