Is burning candles bad for you? We asked a doctor.

Written by Allison

Smoke considered, is burning candles bad for you? Probably not.

It’s finally candle season! With my undying love of cosiness and nostalgia scents it’s not too surprising that my entire apartment is dotted with scented candles. But with this year’s annual candle haul brought along an unwelcome attack of sneezing. After frantically googling “is burning candles bad for you?” I’ve had to do a major candle clear out because some candles are, in fact, bad for you.


Which totally sucks. But, have no fear, not all candles are bad, just some. But really, is burning candles bad for you? Depends on who you are.

Let’s start off first with an overall disclaimer. If you have issues with any fragrance, scented candles aren’t for you, although you probably knew that already. Instead, burn a select type of unscented candle to your heart’s content. We’ll get to the safe candles in a minute.

Also, allergy sufferers, you should avoid scented candles too. Depending on how your candle is fragranced it can include essential oils or other allergy triggers. Airborne essential oils can even cause allergic airborne contact dermatitis. So, for those with sensitive skin or allergies, pass on the scents.

With that in mind, there are candles that are bad for everyone (not just allergy sufferers).

Paraffin candles are bad for you.

A study done at SC State found that paraffin candles release “unwanted chemicals into the air.” And for frequent candle burners, Dr. Ruhullah Massoudi said “Inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma.” Cancer. OOPH.

It’s not all just long term effects though. The study found that paraffin candles released toluene which, even in low levels can cause tiredness, confusion, even memory loss.

“The effect of these dangerous toxins really depends on the amount of toxin in the candle and it’s fume when burnt and the time the patient is exposed to these fumes,” explained Dr. Yael Halaas.

It’s just not worth it for the fall style goals. Natural candles like soy candles, the study found, did not release toxic chemicals.

There is one more piece to the candle-choosing puzzle — the wick. Although not so common anymore, candles with a metal wick are also dangerous, this time because of the threat of lead poisoning. Burning a candle with a metal wick can cause lead aerosols to land all over your home which can, over time, lead to dangerous lead exposure.

Put it all together and your safest candle-burning-bet is an unscented, natural soy (or beeswax) candle with a natural wick (try these if you like tapered candles). Sure, your home won’t smell like a giant pumpkin pie, but it won’t kill you either.

Mmmm… beeswax!

Try candles from Bee Hive Candles, or scour Etsy for a bunch of home made options. This was as fascinating as the time science proved generous people end up happier, right?

Love this article? For more beauty, style, travel, and trending topics check out The Luxury Spot on Facebook. Like us and we’ll love you back! 

About the author


Bio: She's a New Orleans based beauty writer, nail polish hoarder, and doughnut enthusiast. When she isn't camping out in her local coffee shop for hours on end, you'll probably find her taking selfies in front of every colorful wall she's ever seen. Follow along on Instagram @allisonmarieschmidt.

Leave a Comment