Before I discovered essential oil diffusers, I was a big fan of scented candles. Who doesn't love when their house smells nice? Unfortunately having pets and stinky neighbors means that our house doesn't always smell quite as fresh as I'd like. Candles can help set the atmosphere in our homes, serve as decorations, and fill our homes with their pleasant odors. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be common knowledge that some candles can also be dangerous and/or not environmentally friendly.
Of course it's common sense that if you're going to burn candles around pets you need to keep them out of your animals' reach. Many pet owners will set a candle where Fido can't reach and think nothing more of candle safety. But, besides exposing us to their pleasant odors, some candles release carcinogens and neurotoxins. In addition, some contain animal by-products and other ingredients that are bad for the environment.
Candle companies in the US aren't required to list their products ingredients, so finding animal and environmentally friendly candle brands can sometimes be difficult. Ingredients such as Spermaceti and Stearic Acid are both animal derived ingredients sometimes used in candle making. Spermaceti, or Sperm Oil, is a waxy oil found in cavities in the heads of Sperm whales and dolphins. Stearic Acid is a fatty acid usually derived from beef, sheep, or pig fat.
Paraffin based candles are the most common type sold today. Paraffin is a petroleum product, that when burned can release toxins into the air. Some of these toxins are known carcinogens and can be damaging to your health, your pets health, and to the environment.
But that doesn't mean that you have to stop burning candles if you enjoy having them in your home. Candles made from soy and palm oil contain plant based ingredients and are much healthier for you. Make sure you double check with the candle company before making a purchase, as some candles labeled as being environmentally friendly may still contain small amounts of animal by-products. But vegan, environmentally friendlier candles do exist! They may cost a bit more than usual, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. You are paying extra for higher quality, healthier ingredients. An added benefit is that all natural soy candles often have a more pure, pleasant scent, and they usually last longer than paraffin based candles.
You can help protect the environment and the animals in it without making too much of a sacrifice. You can still create the pleasant atmosphere, visuals, and scents in your home without promoting animal cruelty or exposing yourself and your pets to potential toxins. Spend the time to find cruelty free, environmentally friendly candles and you will be taking a step towards a healthier, animal friendly home.