I wish I had a photo of the days where my pantry shelves were lined with 3-wick candles that I had ready to burn in our home. I grew up in a home of candles, so naturally I figured the best way to make my home smell nice was to burn a candle or two when company would come over. I took pride in my candle collection.
The highlight of my season was when the new scents would roll out. MEGA SUPER DUPER SALE on candles and the little smelly things you would plug in the wall. Fall, Winter, Summer, Spring. Oh how I loved the gingerbread cookie scents and summer boardwalk scents.
I will spare you all of the intense details on how I arrived at a new thought process when it came to scenting my home, but I will tell you I will no longer burn nor plug in any of these scents.
What’s the big deal?
Why? In simple terms, scented products like your favorite candle, scented wall plug-in, or melty waxes are toxic. Some, including myself, would argue that it is as toxic as second hand smoke.
It isn’t just the wick that is the problem.
A few years ago there was an article circulating about how candles and the wicks were a point of toxin exposure in the home. There was a big shift away from wicked candles and suddenly there were new melty wax bars on the marketing. They were promising the same powerful scents, without the harmful impact of candles.
The only problem is, they are just as toxic. The melty waxes, the plugin air scents, and the wicked candles all fall in the same category of toxic.
My goal is to improve the health and lives of others. I figured I needed to get more information gathered to help people see the toxic impact of these scents in our homes.
I reached out to some of the most popular companies to see what was in their products. Let’s cover two of the most popular scent companies at the moment.
What is in your product?
I reached out to Bath and Body Works and Scentsy to ask what the ingredients were in their products. I would have grabbed the ingredients off of their website or the side of one of their products, but they don’t include them on there.
RED FLAG #1.
So, I emailed. Explaining that I was curious what made up 1. the ingredients list in their product and 2. what made up the ingredients in their fragrance ingredient(s).
Why is fragrance so important?
Fragrance is an ingredient that is listed on MANY of our favorite, scented products. It seems harmless, right? I mean I want something scented, so therefore it makes sense to have a “fragrance” ingredient.
It isn’t so simple. According to the EWG, the average fragrant containers around 14 different chemicals that are “secret” and aren’t included on the label. These “secret” ingredients could be one of 3,999 different chemicals listed by the International Fragrance Association.
Some of these ingredients, like phthalates are potent hormone disruptors linked to reproductive system birth defects in babies. Octoxynols and nonoxynols break down into persistent hormone disruptors.
Some of the ingredients on this list generate a secondary air pollutant like formaldehyde or ultra fine particles. The chemical reacts with the indoor air and changes the chemical in to a more harmful chemical.
EWG found that about 75 percent of products that list fragrance contain the hormone disrupting chemical, phthalates and 80% haven’t even been tested for human safety!
The ingredients list
After jumping through a few hoops, both companies responded to me with a list of their ingredients. First, those 3-wick candles from our favorite body shop.
“Here is the ingredient list you requested: The specifics are proprietary to the fragrance house, meaning we do not have access to that information, and cannot share it with our customer. IngredientsIs: Waxes (Paraffin and/or Vegetable), Ultraviolet Absorber, Antioxidant, Fragrance, BHT, Wick”
I will break down these ingredients, but first let’s talk about the statement that the company “does not have access to that information, and cannot share it with our customers.” when it comes to the information about their fragrance. Meaning, they don’t know which of the 3,999 different chemical possibilities make up their candle scent? Odd.
Someone from the legal team at our favorite melty wax company responded to my questions about the ingredients. I received a response that included, “Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the specific ingredient make up of our various fragrances. (…) has a legal obligation under non-disclosure contractual agreements with its suppliers not to disclose fragrance into the public domain.”
Well, that’s understandable. You need to protect the supplier before the customer. Got it. So I asked a second time if they could tell me the ingredients that made up the wax bars. I got the SAME EXACT RESPONSE. Not ONE ingredient was provided to me.
They did however include “(…) fragrance products do not contain any ingredients that are regulated or of concern to IFRA or US governmental agencies.”
Ironically, the IFRA that they referenced is the same company that issues the list of over 3,000 different chemicals that can be used in “fragrance”.
There is little regulatory oversight of the safety of those ingredients. No federal law requires the disclosure of fragrance ingredients to consumers, manufacturers or even regulatory agencies.
What about non-fragrance chemicals?
There are other chemicals outside of fragrance that are considered toxic in our favorite scented products.
Paraffin is a byproduct of crude oil purification. It has been claimed that paraffin wax releases toxic fumes like toluene and benzene. These chemicals released in to the air, in addition to chemicals from “fragrance” could create health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma.
BHT is a food additive that has been “generally recognized as safe”, but studies were completed that indicated that rats fed BHT developed lung and liver tumors. There were also links of BHT to developmental effects, hormone disruption, and thyroid.
Some might argue that these studies are incomplete or more studies are needed, but my question is WHY EXPOSE YOUR FAMILY TO IT? More importantly, why expose your family and children to it so that your house can smell like boardwalk margarita sandy toes???
For me, it just isn’t worth the POTENTIAL risk. Years ago people thought mothers were crazy when they didn’t want their children around anyone who was smoking. There wasn’t enough “research” or “data” at the time, but there was enough concern for mothers to speak up. Fragrance and toxic chemicals are today’s second handsmoke. I stand with the mothers who want to protect their children from the potential risk.
Your house is still not “fresh”!
By the way, now would be a great time to add, “air fresheners” don’t actually freshen the air in your home. In fact, all they do is mask the odor with another odor. It doesn’t mean a clean home nor a germ free home.
In an effort to make our homes smell “good”, we are pumping TOXIC chemicals in to the air for our family to breathe. Because this TOXIC air doesn’t have a smoke appearance, we don’t consider it toxic. To me, this is as concerning as having my family sit in a room with someone smoking a cigarette.
What is the solution?
Let’s first establish some of the people reading this aren’t going to be ready to make a change. They will still brush it off, pretend like it’s needless paranoia, and keep their candles burning and their plugins plugged in.
Some of you however will see the benefit of protecting your family and prevention. Is it guaranteed that your family will never get cancer once you remove candles, melty wax, and plugins from your home? Absolutely not! For me I like to see it as another step in preventing the devastation of cancer, asthma, and toxin exposure for my family.
Here are some solutions for removing toxins from candles, wall plugins, and household fragrances.
Get new friends!!
First of all, if your friends only come over and enjoy your home because your house smells like fake cookies baking or island margaritas, you need new friends.
Choose a misting diffuser like this one for essential oils to “burn” instead of candles. You can mix your favorite oils together to create seasonal scents or buy oils that are already blended for you! You can also buy sets like this one or this one to have a few different options.
**please note: not all essential oils are safe for children. Please research oils safety + the age of your children or pets.**
Your plug in wall scents
Buy a plug in wax warmer like this one. It is typically used to melt those toxic scented wax squares. Add a little avocado or coconut oil and a couple drops of essential oils. Turn it on before guests come over! My favorite is germ fighter because it smells like cinnamon and has almost a holiday scent to it.
Use natural things for scenting your home
Do you love the mocha java chip candle? Sit out a bowl full of fresh whole or ground coffee beans in a corner, before guests arrive.
Fresh flowers are another great option if you want people to brag about how amazing your home smells.
Throw a couple citrus peels in the garbage disposal after you have done the dishes for a fresh citrus scent.
So your bathroom smells like urine? I don’t know if that’s really why you have those pluggy things in the bathroom, but there is another solution if you want to “WOW!” people while they are peeing.
Drop 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil on the inside of the toilet paper roll. You can even make a room spray using water, witch hazel, and essential oils. I like germ fighter for this one too or Sweet Slumber.
Some people got mad at me and tuned me out three paragraphs in. For some reason people are wildly addicted to their candles, scenty waxes, and room plugins. That’s fine, but I don’t understand WHY.
I get it. The idea of ditching something you ENJOY is hard. To reiterate, I had a shelf lined with 3-wick candles just waiting to be burned.
The risk of exposing my family to toxic chemicals just isn’t worth it.
Companies that are selling any product and not disclosing their ingredients or what makes up their “fragrance” are companies I just cannot trust. I refuse to give my hard earned money to a company who protects their profits before their consumers.
I hope this helped you. If you are mad at me because I “ruined your favorite candle addiction”, but I hope you found an alternative and replacement idea.