7. Choose non-toxic candles and avoid incense
Candles and incense can help us relax and they create a warm and cosy ambience – but there’s often a negative side to this homely treat. Many candles are still made from paraffin, a by-product of oil and gas, with metal wicks which leach toxins into the air. When burned, they release particles, which studies have shown can cause cancer and damage lungs – and if they have lead wicks, you can be ingesting this toxin at levels that are way above safe.
Scented candles are extremely problematic, as up to 90% of all fragrances in them typically come from synthetic chemicals, many of which are toxic to humans. They often contain hormone-altering chemicals, as well as cancer-causing volatile organic compounds, like toluene and benzene, which can disrupt puberty, bring on early menopause and severely irritate lungs. Paraffin wax scented candles are the absolute worst, health-wise, as not only will you be breathing in a cocktail of noxious chemicals, they will release soot and toxins into the air, clogging up air vents and ducts.
Incense isn’t innocent either, as it contains toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, a cancer causing agent, plus burning it can release gases such as carbon monoxide. Incense can cause headaches, lung irritation and inflammation – and research shows it can also block respiratory airways, aggravate cardiovascular disease, and cause liver, kidney and central nervous system damage.
If you want to enjoy candles you can – just make sure you choose non-toxic options instead, such as candles made from beeswax, soy or coconut wax, with organic cotton, wood or hemp wicks. Check out Slow North’s collection of soy-wax candles including this Rosemary and Lemon Essential Oil Scented 8oz, or embrace hygge living and pick up Octo’s Orange Spiced Candle, with 100% natural essential oils.
As for incense, we wouldn’t recommend it, as anything that produces smoke will pollute the air – though if you must, at least ensure that the incense you burn is made with natural ingredients and organic essential oils.