3 Reasons to Abandon the Use of Paraffin Wax Candles and 3 Reasons to Start Using Organic Wax Candles
In 2009, Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi, a researcher and chemistry professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences at South Carolina State University, assisted by SCSU alum ('09) and chemist, Amid Hamidi, conducted research to determine the health effect of petroleum-based wax candles versus plant-based wax candles.
Dr. Massoudi tested the most popular types of candle wax for this experiment, and as such, he chose to burn paraffin wax (petroleum-based) and soybean wax (vegetable/organic) candles. Dr. Massoudi and Hamidi tested non-pigmented, non-scented, and non-dyed wax to ensure there were not any factors effecting the test results. These results were profound and led to three reasons why one should immediately stop burning paraffin wax candles.
- Paraffin wax candles are a by-product of oil refineries. Paraffin wax is a derivative of shale oil, coal, or petroleum. While these products are useful in everyday life, it is not recommended to light, burn, ingest, or inhale them. Unfortunately, this is what has been happening for decades. Paraffin wax is very stable in solid form. It also has properties that enable it to hold less fragrance oil with greater hot throw, which is the distance away from the candle one can smell the scent while lit. This has pushed the mass-produced candle industry in the use of paraffin wax as a money saving product.
- Paraffin wax candles release toxins when burned as a result of their petroleum properties. Dr. Massoudi and Hamidi discovered that when burned, paraffin wax emits alkenes and toluene, each of these chemicals are harmful to humans. Some of the more well-known alkenes are methane, propane, and ethane. Toluene is used as an octane booster in fuel, a solvent in paint, and is used in cigarettes. Toluene's predominately effect on humans is nervous system and brain function. Lab studies show that higher levels of toluene may impact the immune system, lungs, liver, and kidneys.
- Paraffin wax candles increase the chance of developing allergies, asthma, and cancer. Dr. Massoudi claims that "frequent use" of paraffin wax is enough for these conditions to develop. Imagine those individuals who burn paraffin wax candles every day, for years on end.
As if these results were not enough to make one throw out their paraffin wax candles for good, it is important to recognize that not all candles are inherently as bad as their paraffin wax cousins. Vegetable-based wax candles have some excellent health qualities.
- Vegetable based wax candles do not emit any toxic chemicals. While petroleum-based wax candles emit harmful toxins in the extreme, Dr. Massoudi stated "None of the vegetable-based candles produced toxic chemicals". While there may be the occasional development of an allergic reaction to vegetable-wax candles, the likelihood is small.
- Vegetable-based wax is sourced via sustainable farming. While there have disturbing reports in regards to Palm wax cultivation, this is not the case when manufacturing candles made from soybean, coconut, and beeswax. Coconut and soybean wax have the added benefit of generally being organically sourced. Organic beeswax increases the bee population in the local region where it is sourced. All of these are huge for the environment.
- Vegetable-based wax candles are a great way to support small business. Candle manufacturers who produce vegetable wax candles can be found in every state and Provence in North America. Organic candle producers enjoy a solid foothold as online retailers as well. Many of these online retailers offer free shipping on orders over a specific monetary value (True North Candle Forge offers free shipping on domestic orders over $75, and free international shipping on orders over $120), discount coupons (True North Candle Forge offers 10% off all orders for first responders, military, and veterans), or any number of other promotional offers. Dr. Massoudi claims "a possible increase in production and demand for soy candles could attribute to a decline of health risks caused by paraffin candles and help disadvantaged small farmers diversify their crops to yield more revenue". When you realize that vegetable-based wax candles are also biodegradable, the slightly higher cost of these products no longer seem like such bad bargain.
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Article source: https://www.scsu.edu/news_article.aspx?news_id=832