3 Ways To Know If Your Candle Is Toxic!
If you can't find THIS on your candle’s label, your candle may be toxic!!
When I first got into the candle making world, I had no idea how much went into making a candle. Now, being familiar with everything that goes on behind the scenes, I can confidently say that at least half of the candles in your home right now are toxic. I know, it’s shocking. When I found out, I donated so many products that my local Goodwill looks like a Bath and Body Works! To help you avoid this, I am going to walk you through some candle basics to help you discover if your candles are toxic so you begin on your journey to a non-toxic life.
How do I know if my candle is toxic?
There is a huge problem with the fragrance and cosmetics industry. In the US, regulations are extremely lenient (compared to the EU). That means candle makers and cosmetic companies don’t always have to disclose important information about their product, like its contents, leaving the consumer in the dark. I find this extremely unethical, which is why I use this blog to explain every single ingredient used in my products. This article will help you determine if the candles you have at home are dangerous based on a few key components: wax type, wick type, and fragrance oils.
1. Wax Type
The FDA does not require candle labels to include the type of wax, but oftentimes brands will include this if they are conscious about consumers’ health.
Check your candles’ labels (don’t forget the one on the bottom!). Look for things like “100% Soy Wax”, “100% Coconut Wax”, “100% Cocosoy Blend”, “100% beeswax”. These are preferred by consumers because of their all natural properties, so brands like to showcase this for good marketing. Watch out for things like “soy blend”, “coconut blend”, or “beeswax blend”. The word “blend” indicates that your candle is not pure and likely contains toxic paraffin wax, a petroleum by-product. These companies are exploiting the popularity of natural ingredients, while secretly contaminating them with toxins without your knowledge. If your candle does not specify the type of wax, it does not automatically mean that your candle is made of paraffin, but it is very likely.
Go to the brand’s website and see if there is any information about what is in your candle. Sometimes there will be a drop down menu detailing your candles contents, or BBW even gives you a full ingredients list!
2. Wick Type
Like wax, there are many wick options to choose from when making a candle. The main types are cotton, paper, and metal core.
Lead core wicks have been banned for many years, but zinc core wicks are still being sold. Why? Metal-core wicks burn cooler, so the burn time will increase. This makes metal-core wicks appealing to some manufacturers that do not have your best interest in mind. A study from April 2000 showed that burning candles with metal-core wicks for just 2 hours can “result in airborne lead concentrations that can pose a threat to human health”. “In addition to inhalation of lead in the air, children get exposed to lead in candle fumes deposited on the floor, furniture and walls through their hand-to-mouth activity”. In short, metal wicks are BAD!
To check if your candle has a metal core, look for a metal wire in the center of the wick, and peel off the cotton braiding from the wick to reveal a solid metallic wire core, if there is one. If you rub that wire on paper and it leaves a grey mark, then it is probably lead. If you can’t find a wire inside, it is probably a cotton or paper wick. Again, double check on the company’s website. While wax type may not be urgently deadly, wick type has potential to be (as seen here).
3. Fragrance Oils (aka the good smelling stuff!)Everyone’s favorite part is the fragrance. I mean, you’re telling me, I can light this little candle and have my entire bedroom smelling like christmas any day of the year? Incredible. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to determine what type of fragrance oils are in your candle because fragrance combinations can be proprietary (meaning companies don’t want to give up their secret recipes that make their products smell so good). Fate beauty exclusively uses fragrances from Candle Science’s “Clean Scents” Line because they do not contain carcinogens, phthalates, parabens, acute toxins, reproductive toxins, organ toxins, or mutagens. These are the absolute best and cleanest fragrance oils on the market and they provide SDS sheets on their website to prove it. Not all brands will tell you where they get their materials from, but we are an open book. To try and determine if your candle is made with safe fragrances, look for things like phthalate and paraben free, a Prop 65 warning, carcinogen information, and SDS sheets. If you cannot find this information on their website, send the company an email! Request the ingredients list or SDS sheet.
Beware of Essential Oils
Essential oils are great for diffusing, but these oils are not meant to be burned at the high temperatures that candles require. So while it may seem safest to burn candles with essential oils, it can be potentially toxic. This is actually the one instance where “man made” products are better for you than “natural”. Synthetic additives raise the melting point of the oils allowing it to safely diffuse. “Made with essential oils” usually indicates additives, while statements like “made with 100% essential oils” indicate pure essential oils. (This labeling technique is the same trick used in cosmetics, so keep an eye out!) Also, keep in mind: essential oils are expensive! The concentration needed to make a candle with pure essential oils would make the candle cost at least double that of a normal candle. Price will also be a good indication of what is in your candle if you cannot find the information online or through the company.
As always, use this information how you will and do your own research. Don’t be shy to email companies and investigate what is in the products that you use every single day. Self-care isn’t self-care if it’s toxic!