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Are Yankee Candles Toxic? What You Need to Know

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Yankee Candles have grown increasingly popular in recent years, often topping lists for ‘Best Selling Candle’. However, a recent spike in concern about the possible harmful effects of burning candles has caused people to wonder whether Yankee Candles are toxic.

Unfortunately for us, Yankee Candles do not provide a complete ingredients list for their candles. I was surprised to learn that legally, candle companies do not have to share what is in their candles. This makes it difficult to know exactly what is in their candles and how toxic they could potentially be.

Not happy to burn something in my home when I have no idea of the potential toxicity and harmful effects, I decided to do some research.

are yankee candles toxic

There are several factors to consider when determining how toxic a candle is. Some candle companies fail on all of these factors, whereas others have obviously worked hard to prevent any toxins from being released into your home when you burn their candles.

I was disappointed to realize that Yankee Candles do contain toxins that can be harmful to your health if you have repeated exposure to them. However, they are definitely not the most toxic candle out there.

Yankee Candle do seem to have taken some steps to reduce the number of toxins in their candles. Let’s take a look at the different factors that determine how toxic candles are and how these relate to Yankee Candles.

One of the first things to consider when looking at the toxicity of candles is the wick. Wicks can be made from a variety of materials, including cotton and wood. Some companies claim that their wicks are made from safer materials, while in actual fact, they have potentially harmful materials embedded inside.

One of these potentially harmful materials is lead. Wicks that contain lead, even if it just in the core of the wick, can be potentially damaging. When you burn wicks containing lead, the lead is released into the air at a level that exceeds the recommended limits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Luckily, the wicks used in Yankee Candles are made from 100% pure cotton, meaning that they do not release any lead into your home.

However, the wick is not the only factor you need to consider when judging the harmful effects of burning candles. The type of wax that is used in the candle is a huge contributor to what is being released into the air every time you light a candle.

Yankee Candles use paraffin wax. Paraffin is the most common wax as it is the cheapest wax type and it is easily available. Paraffin is often favored by companies who mass-produce candles.

Paraffin is frequently used because it holds fragrances well and produces strong scented candles, something that many consumers value in their candles. However, many candle lovers don’t realize that paraffin also has some harmful effects.

Paraffin is made from petroleum and is a non-renewable resource. Paraffin is made from the residue found at the bottom of crude oil barrels. The sludge is taken out of the barrels and then bleached white and treated with chemicals. This substance is then used to make candle wax.

Research has shown that paraffin contains seven different toxins, which come from the petroleum itself, and the chemicals used to bleach and treat the petroleum. When you burn paraffin candles, these toxins are released into the air and could be harmful to you and your family.

Burning paraffin candles can be particularly harmful to people who have asthma and other respiratory disorders, as paraffin can trigger or worsen their symptoms.

Studies have also shown that burning paraffin may release two very harmful chemicals – benzene and toluene. Both of these chemicals are known carcinogens – agents that can cause cancer. Toluene is also linked to headaches and drowsiness.

It is important to note that the carcinogens found in paraffin wax are only likely to cause a significant health risk if you use them regularly for a number of years. As someone who burns candles almost every day, I still find this concerning, however.

Paraffin candles also release soot when they burn. Soot is the black residue that comes from the flame of a paraffin candle. Not only can soot stain your ceiling, furniture, or walls black, when it is airborne it can be inhaled and enter the lungs.

We now know that Yankee Candles contain paraffin, which is definitely toxic in certain amounts. However, another factor that may influence how toxic their candles are is the ingredients that are used to fragrance the candles.

Some candle companies choose to fragrance their candles using essential oils and fragrance oils, whereas others choose synthetic fragrances. Fragrances that are created naturally, using essential oils or fragrance extracts from plants or flowers don’t usually contain toxins and are much safer to breathe. 

Fragrance oils that are synthetically manufactured are usually made using chemicals. Companies often don’t release the full information of exactly what chemicals are in these synthetic fragrances. They aim to mimic smells that usually come from natural products, such as flowers.

Synthetic fragrances are usually made up mostly of chemicals derived from petroleum which, as we already know, contains toxins and carcinogens. Yankee Candle states that they use fragrance extracts and real essential oils in all of their candles.

This should mean that the fragrance in Yankee Candles is non-toxic and doesn’t cause any harmful effects to people or animals.

Yankee Candle is also a member of the National Candle Agency (NCA) which monitors the candle-making industry in the U.S. The NCA states that the amount of toxins and soot released by even paraffin candles is minimal and should not cause any harmful effects.

The more candles we use, the more soot and toxins are being released into the air. To reduce your exposure to the toxins present in Yankee Candles you should only burn one candle at a time and do not leave it burning for more than four hours.

When you are not using your Yankee Candle, store it in an airtight container to protect it from dust and other particles in the air. If you do not do this, the next time you burn your candle, these particles will also be burnt and released into the air.

If you are still concerned about burning candles that can release harmful toxins into the environment, you may want to move away from paraffin candles altogether. At the moment, Yankee Candle does not offer any non-paraffin alternatives but there are plenty of other options available to you.

You could instead buy candles made from renewable resources, such as beeswax or soy wax. Beeswax and soy wax do not contain any pollutants or toxins. This means they are not releasing harmful substances or carcinogens into the air.

Non-paraffin candles are also more likely to be hypoallergenic and better suited for those with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory disorders.

It is also possible to buy candles made from minerals and vegetables that release fewer particles into the air when they burn, however these candles tend to come with a higher price tag.

I was disappointed when I realized that Yankee Candles can be considered toxic. However, as they use essential oils and natural fragrances, as well as cotton wicks, they are less toxic than some other candle brands.

I don’t want to stop using Yankee Candles altogether, as I really enjoy the fragrance of them. However, I think until they start to make candles using a safer, cleaner wax, I’ll reserve my Yankee Candles for special occasions rather than using them on a day to day basis.