We light candles for many reasons. They provide ambiance, are soothing to look at, and provide a whole range of mental health benefits. Candles with wood wicks take it a step farther and offer a gentle crackle as they glow.
The result is something that is cleansing for our souls, but is it cleansing the air we breathe? The answer depends on who you ask.
Little to no formal research has been done on whether candles can clean the air. There is anecdotal evidence claiming that beeswax candles can clean the air by releasing negative ions, but these are only stories. It may be true—we just can't know for sure until someone studies it.
Yet many people who use candles regularly have experienced relief from allergy symptoms, improved mood, and other benefits from burning certain types of candles. Here's what we know.
Do Beeswax Candles Clean the Air?
Beeswax candles are typically sought after because manufacturers claim they clean the air. They say that when beeswax is burned, it releases negative ions into the air that help to purify it in much the same way as an air purifier.
Most common allergens and pollutants have a positive ion charge, so when negative ions are released, they bind with the positive ions and either get sucked into the candle and burned or fall to the ground. The result is cleaner air with fewer allergens.
No formal studies have been done on beeswax candles and negative ions. This doesn't mean that they don't exist. It's such a small area of research that no one has found the time or funding to look into it. Until we have solid proof that candles do these things, it's up to anecdotal evidence and personal testing.
Negative ions are usually produced by things like running water, thunderstorms, crashing waves, and other similar types of movement. It may be the reason why we feel so relaxed after a getaway at the beach or a hike through a forest.
These negative ions are thought to be suitable for those who have asthma and improve mood by boosting serotonin levels. Several studies have been done on negative ions themselves, finding that exposure to them does result in positive effects. The effects are especially powerful on depression and anxiety, helping to reduce symptoms in people who suffer from these mental health disorders.
While research will have to be done to determine if beeswax candles do produce negative ions, we do know that when we burn candles, we feel more relaxed.
There are dozens of anecdotal stories on the internet where people with allergies have found relief by burning candles. There are also mentions of children with asthma experiencing better breathing.
It's possible that these stories are simply correlations, but until more evidence has been found through research using controls, it's an essential measure for those who want to try it themselves.
Can Candles Get Rid of Bad Smells?
Beeswax candles are the only type of candle to potentially release negative ions, but there's more to the story than that. Candles have long been used to help get rid of bad smells. Many people keep scented candles in the bathroom to help cover up unpleasant odors when the bathroom is in use.
This is partly because lighting a match can help mask the unwanted smell, but the candle itself can help too by pulling gasses such as methane into the flame and burning the.
While this isn't completely effective, with the help of scents from the candle to help cover it up, it can mask odors and make you feel like the air is a lot purer. No one likes to smell someone else's business in the bathroom, and a lovely scented candle can help you feel better about leaving the restroom in the same condition you entered it.
Paraffin Candles Not Only Don't Clean the Air, but They Pollute it
While it is true that most candles can't purify the air, switching your candle choice could improve air quality in your home.
That's because certain types of candles not only don't purify the air, but actually contribute to air pollution. Your home is a relatively closed-off environment, so paying attention to the emissions being released in your home is very important.
Paraffin candles are the worst of these offenders. Not only can they release toxic emissions known to cause cancer, but those cancer-causing toxins can linger in the air up to 10 hours after the candle has been extinguished.
Polluting candles are a big problem, but you can certainly clean up your home's air without having to give up candles—switch to natural candles. Candles made from beeswax, soy, coconut, and other natural waxes are clean-burning and don't release these toxic chemicals. All of our candles are made from a coconut-soy wax blend!
The wax itself isn't the only concern. If you see a metal wire in your wick, that wick may contain lead. While it is banned in the United States and a few other countries, some countries still allow lead wicks to be created.
If you're hoping to avoid polluting your air, you'll undoubtedly want to use a candle with a clean wax such as soy, coconut, or beeswax.
There's still a lot we don't know about candles. It's not a strong area for scientific research. We do know how we feel when we light them, however, and choosing a candle that doesn't cause black smoke is a positive outcome we can really appreciate.
Candles are a very enjoyable feature in our homes, and taking the time to choose one that's as good for our health is always a wise choice.