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Are you breathing cancer-causing candle smoke? Try these natural alternatives instead!

Candle smoke
(NaturalNews) You might be surprised to hear that most of the candles we commonly burn are as toxic as cigarettes, making the smoke you breathe (and the scent that comes with it), bad for your health.

The soothing scents and homely glow emitted by candles might be relaxing, however the chemicals in the paraffin wax and wicks used in most candles are not good at all. If you look into what you're actually burning in your home, you'll soon realize it's time to rethink the type of candles you buy.

The chemicals in most candles

Paraffin or paraffin blends derived from petroleum are used to make most candles available commercially because they provide an inexpensive wax. However, when melted, paraffin releases fumes that are similar to those of a diesel engine, filling the air with carcinogenic chemicals. Those who suffer with asthma in particular, can have increased respiratory difficulty around paraffin candles.

It is claimed that burning paraffin candles can in some cases be as dangerous as second-hand smoke. Benzene and toluene are released from melted paraffin, and are known carcinogens that cause headaches, and over time, lead to lung cancer.

The National Institute for Occupations Safety and Health recommends limited exposure to paraffin wax fumes, and studies have found that the fumes can cause tumors in the kidneys and livers of lab animals.

There are as many as 20 different toxins in paraffin candle wax that are also identified in California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, including: acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Carbon Tetrachloride, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol and Cyclopentene.

Are all candles bad?

No! Not all candles are bad for you, but there are some that you should definitely avoid. The cheap and cheerful "aromatherapy" scented candles such as Glade or Febreeze that you can buy from supermarkets, are made from paraffin.

Meanwhile, common gel candles are made from the same petrochemicals as paraffin, however they are also commonly sold in glass containers which have been known to explode without warning.

Cheap candles from the dollar store that have their wicks infused with lead (to keep them standing straight), are also options to avoid, whilst soy candles might seem better and do burn soot-free, however they also contain bleach and chemical hardeners.

So now that we know what to avoid, which candles are okay to burn in the home?

Making candles at home may seem like an extra chore that you don't have time for, however it can be a great option for getting some peace of mind about what you're filling your home with.

Homemade oil lamps last for an extremely long time and are inexpensive, with the added bonus of being ridiculously easy to make. You'll need a brass oil container from the thrift store (normally less than $5), raw unfiltered coconut oil and a cotton ball. There you have it: a great way to create some ambient lighting without damaging your health.

However if it's aromatherapy you're going for and you fancy a delicious smell, why not warm essential oils or burn some frankincense?

But if you absolutely have your heart set on a candle, then choose beeswax candles, which are non-toxic, non-allergenic, soot-free and burn with a lovely bright light. They also have the added bonus of releasing negative ions into the air, which invigorates the body.

While they might cost a little more than the paraffin alternative, they will last longer, and are free from the cancer-causing toxic chemicals you find in most other candles.

Sources include:

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