Are Candles Bad For You?

There has been an increase in the media stating some types of candles, and candle materials are toxic, and harmful to your health1. According to these articles the paraffin, synthetic fragrance oil, and sometimes the lead wick used to make some scented candles may release chemicals into the atmosphere that can cause cancer, respiratory issues, and allergic reactions2.

Although there is some conflicting evidence in research to address if actually burning a candle is bad for you345, there is no official conclusion whether burning a candle is bad for you or not. The findings from these researches were more related to the materials used to make the candle, how the candle is burnt, the space in which the candle is burnt, and the health and sensitivity of the individual, or individuals that inhabit the space that the candle is burnt. 

In this article we give some information on candles and types of candles, explain some benefits of burning candles, some risks of burning candles, people that may be affected by burning candles, what types of candles are the safest, and candles that can be enjoyed without worrying if they are toxic candles, or if they contain harmful chemicals.


Imagine coming across the headline Are your favorite candles slowly poisoning you? This can be a shocking message that can trigger temporary or permanent anxiety for some candle lovers if more objective information is not available. This article provides information to empower an individual to make educated choices when it comes to choosing a candle, and burning a candle. Candles have been a main source of light for a long time in human history, and the presence of candles generally provides a warm cozy atmosphere. Candles are used symbolically in some religious practices, for romantic dinners, holiday family gatherings, in spas for ambiance and wellness, and in many more ways. In recent times scented candles have become popular, fashionable, and a sort of luxury item due to the designs, price, and the associated health benefits such as to aid relaxation, improve mood, for ambiance, improve smell, and to visually enhance a space6.

How are Candles Made

A candle is a product of a wax material which acts as the fuel, and a wick which is the flame holder. The candle wick is usually placed in the center and the candle wax holds it in a certain shape, sometimes color and scent is added to the candle product for aesthetic and health benefit. The candle wick is where the candle will be burnt and it will hold and retain fire for the duration of the candle product away from draft. According to RAL Quality Mark candles there are 3 methods for making a candle into its desired shape: pressing method, drawing method, and casting method.

Conventional candles were made from paraffin, stearin, and beeswax7 and sometimes a lead-core wick which is said to be toxic 2, however in 2003 lead wicks were banned in America8 & European Candle Manufacturers Association (ECMA) says they are uncommon and not a concern in Europe9.

Modern candles have become more popular due to the wide availability of choices of smell, colours, and designs of candles. There are 2 types of candles, scented and unscented candles, making the scented candles includes adding the essential oils or synthetic oil to be used. Modern day candles are made from natural or synthetic materials. A natural candle is made from natural products such as beeswax, palm oil, palm wax, coconut wax, and soy wax10. Synthetic candles are mainly made from paraffin or stearin wax9, there is also a combination of natural and synthetic candles for cost purposes, as natural candles tend to be costly and are usually found in the luxury candle market11.

Benefits of Candles

Source of Light 

Candles are still used as a source of light and to create a sense of warmth.

Certain scents can improve mood, in turn lowering blood pressure and heart rate

By combining the power of aromatherapy and the warm cozy feeling of a candle, some scented candles are known to improve mood which in turn lowers blood pressure and heart rate. In this article, a psychotherapist12 writes about scented candles that can be used to support stress and anxiety, some scents such as clary sage to lift mood, lavender to relax the mind, and sandalwood for calmness. 

Aids relaxation

Improve Memory

Neuroscience makes it clear that smell and memory are closely linked because of the brain's anatomy. When a smell is inhaled, a signal is sent to the part of the brain called the limbic brain which affects emotion, memory, and thinking. A smell can bring back memories and as such using specific candle scents can help to improve memory13.

Improve Smell 



With many choices of design and colours to choose from thanks to the growing market of luxury candles, candles can be used for purely decorative purposes without burning. 

Risks of candles

Allergies and asthma



According to this article14 more than 5 fires a day are started by candles. It is essential to put candles out properly, not placed in a hazardous space, placed away from children and pets.

Cancer - paraffin wax materias how to use safely 

What candles are the safest?

  • RAL quality mark candles. They claim “no soot or smoke, no drip, quality raw materialsFound here


How to use safely 

Knowing how to correctly burn a candle can help you improve your health and save money. If you burn candles, it's important to know how to light them properly and safely so they don't have a negative impact on your health. To burn candle properly9

  1. Proper ventilation is necessary for air quality
  2. Keep away from draft to avoid flickering, 
  3. Trim wick to 1cm or length specified by manufacturer to prevent candle soot and to prevent releasing harmful chemicals and toxic chemicals in the space.


National Candle Association6 state on their website “Candles are one of the most enjoyable, affordable, and readily accessible luxury items. They infuse the home with color and fragrance, and can help create a special warmth and ambiance to allow for a sense of calm and well-being”.

Some studies have found that candles do emit toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, but at levels too low to pose a health risk3. According to the European candle association “Despite steadily burning candles emit fine particles just like all other open combustions, this is not a matter of concern based on the state of the scientific knowledge because of the composition of the particles”.

Consideration should be given to personal health circumstances to decide if candles may pose some health risk to you. An asthma patient may decide to not use certain types of candles. In addition anyone that knows or is known to be sensitive to some of the components of candles may also decide not to use them for these reasons. 

Candles may provide many health benefits such as to improve mood, ambience, aid relaxation, improve scent and memory. From recent studies it will be unreasonable to conclude candles are bad for you. Paying attention to your candle usage may flag up any symptoms of allergy for an individual which may indicate allergies or sensitivities to specific types of candles. The material and scent which the candle is made from is also an important consideration for an individual that may be allergic or sensitive to candles.

And with the use of essential oils which are natural, with a combination of natural candle wax materials, burning a candle can be enjoyed more safely and cleanly. 


  1. Gutierrez, Sam. ‘Are Your Favorite Candles Slowly Poisoning You?’ House Beautiful, 26 Dec. 2018,
  2. Are Your Candles Toxic? | Green America.
  3. Particle Emissions from Candles Are No Health Hazard. Accessed 14 Mar. 2022.
  4. Szulejko, Jan E., and Ki-Hyun Kim. ‘A Practical Approach to Estimate Emission Rates of Indoor Air Pollutants Due to the Use of Personal Combustible Products Based on Small-Chamber Studies’. Chemosphere, vol. 144, Feb. 2016, pp. 1451–58. (Crossref),
  5. Moyer, Melinda Wenner. ‘Are Scented Candles Harmful to Your Health?’ The New York Times, 9 Nov. 2021.,
  6. ‘FAQs’. National Candle Association,
  7. gmbh, Markus Koellmann, tebitron. ‘RAL Quality Mark for Candles | Candle Manufacture’. RAL,
  8. ‘CPSC Bans Candles With Lead-Cored Wicks’. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,
  9. Frequently Asked Questions about Candles - ECMA | ECMA.
  10. Saint-Elien, Medgina. ‘You Should Be Buying Natural Candles—These Are the Best Ones’. House Beautiful, 26 Oct. 2021,
  11. ‘The Bottom Line Why Natural Candles Are Worth More Money’. Everything Dawn,
  12. Scented Candles to Reduce Anxiety.
  13. Writer, Colleen Walsh Harvard Staff. ‘How Scent, Emotion, and Memory Are Intertwined — and Exploited’. Harvard Gazette, 27 Feb. 2020,
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

Get our health newsletter

Get daily health and wellness advice from our medical team.
Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to this website may be placed by us on our servers. If you do not agree do not provide the information.

Oluwatobiloba Black

Experienced in Spiritual healing, Consultations, Health Guide, Divinations, and teachings for health and wellness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818