A lot of people enjoy burning candles in their homes. Candles create a warm light and a pleasant scent. They can also add a homey, relaxing, or romantic air to an interior. However, there are some potential safety drawbacks to be aware of. Some of the most common types of candles can damage the quality of your indoor air.
The Dangers of Paraffin Wax
A candle has two basic components: the wax and the wick. The wick is a piece of specially treated thread that burns slowly. As it does so, it melts, vaporizes, and burns the wax, which creates a bright flame. Candle wax is often scented so that the vapors carry a pleasant scent when the candle is burned.
Paraffin wax is the most common type of candle wax. Paraffin is a petroleum product, meaning that it’s ultimately made from oil. Petroleum is known for burning uncleanly, and paraffin is no exception.
Studies have shown that paraffin-based candles emit toxic chemicals such as toluene and benzene. The quantities emitted by a single candle are relatively small, so burning a single candle in a well-ventilated space once in a while is unlikely to be a health hazard. However, heavy use of paraffin candles over the long term — especially in a poorly ventilated space — could lead to a buildup of toxic materials.
Furthermore, paraffin candles generate soot — a fine, black, ashy substance. Soot can cling to surfaces and blacken them. It can accumulate in your lungs and contribute to lung diseases. The highest grade of air filters — those rated MERV 13 — can filter out soot, but it’s fine enough to pass right through cheaper filters.
The Dangers of Metal Fibers in Your Wicks
High-quality wicks should be made purely of treated fabrics such as cotton. However, some manufacturers allow wicks to contain fine metal wires. Some manufacturers outside the United States may allow wicks to contain metals such as zinc or even lead!
We’ve known for a long time that lead is poisonous, especially when inhaled. Other metals typically shouldn’t go inside your lungs, either. Check with your manufacturer to see what materials their wicks are made of, and if you see something shiny in the wick, stop burning the candle.
Signs That Your Air Quality May Be Compromised
Your indoor air quality may be compromised if you notice any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Allergy or asthma symptoms
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Headache, fatigue, or difficulty concentrating
At Variable Comfort Solutions, we provide Huntington with air quality solutions that can mitigate these problems and improve the quality of your life.
Old-fashioned beeswax candles are making a comeback. These are more expensive than paraffin candles, but they burn longer and are much cleaner. They also emit a natural, pleasant scent of honey.
Soy candles, made from soy oil instead of petroleum oil, are widely available and cheaper than beeswax. Soy candles are also cleaner and last longer than paraffin. They don’t have a natural scent of their own, but they can be infused with any scent.
You can purchase an inexpensive candle warmer to melt your candle wax. This will give you all the scent from a scented candle without all the dangers of fire and soot.
Air Purification Systems
If you do choose to burn paraffin candles, you can greatly reduce their harmful effects on your air quality by upgrading your air filters. A MERV 13 filter will trap soot and other harmful emissions, maintaining the air quality of your home.
In addition to filters, there are a number of other systems that can improve the quality of your interior air. At Variable Comfort Solutions, we install and maintain a wide range and variety of air purification products in Huntington. These include air purifiers, air scrubbers, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and more.
Air purification systems can bind and trap potentially harmful particles. These can then be trapped in your filter or on other surfaces. That way, they wind up someplace safer than inside your lungs!
Contact the Air Quality Professionals
At Variable Comfort Solutions of Huntington, we concern ourselves with providing the best air quality to our customers. We offer air conditioner, heater, and air filter services, including installation, maintenance, and repair. We’re proud of the quality of our services and products and our communication with customers, as well as our fast, friendly service. Whatever your questions or concerns about your indoor air quality and comfort are, contact us about them today!