I knew nothing about candles before TikTok.
I mean, what is there really to know? I thought candles were the simplest of life’s little luxuries. But turns out, the pots of wax that we cling to for comfort while taking a bath, winding down before bed, or during meditation actually require some care!
At the beginning of my candle learning journey on TikTok, I was learning things like how long you should burn a candle at any given time based on its size, and the proper way to extinguish the flame once done. But as I dug deeper into the niche world of candle care, I also learned some candles can be really bad for your immune system. Specifically, your respiratory system.
The harmful effects of paraffin wax
The biggest thing I came across in my internet dive was the effects of paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is harmful due to the amounts of soot it releases into the air when it’s being burned. Mainly made of petroleum, a 2009 study actually discovered toluene (a hydrocarbon found in paint thinners) is released when paraffin wax burns.
But why isn’t this important health-related information more widely known? Further, why are paraffin candles allowed to even be sold if these claims have been investigated and proved? Well, Reno Rolle Jr, Co-Founder of Boku Superfood & Plant-Based Nutrition says there’s actually a lot of things commonly used in candles that could classify them as toxic.
“Respiratory health is arguably the most important aspect of health,” says Reno. “People all over the world use candles. Most of these candles have paraffin wax, soy wax, cheap filler ingredients, and even plastic.”
The proper way to burn
You can physically see soot being thrown into the air when you light and burn a candle. That little black ball of burn bits that forms at the top of your wick is actually supposed to be REMOVED before you burn again, to prevent excess soot from being released at the start of the burn. And different types of wax can produce more or less soot due to their chemical makeup. According to this study, candles made with palm wax released half as much soot into the air as candles made with paraffin wax.
While you can certainly turn to @taylortoks AKA the “CEO of candles” on Tik Tok for proper burning tips, you can also take advice from the official European Candle Association (who knew this existed?). Their suggestions include trimming the wick before each burn, using a ‘candle snugger’ to let out the flame instead of blowing, and having a source of ventilation in any room when burning a candle.
Use candles to boost your immunity
Just as certain aromatherapy blends can improve our moods and immunity, candles can, to0. While paraffin wax might not be the best choice, there are plenty of natural wax options such as soy, coconut, palm, and beeswax. But besides the wax, the supplemental ingredients in candles matter and can have a really big payoff for our health.
Boku’s The Immunity Candle ($18.99) is one such candle that can boost your mental state and your health. It’s a coconut wax-based candle that contains organic essential oils. The first sniff will remind you of the intoxicating scent of Vicks Vapor Rub (think eucalyptus and peppermint!). It’s named the immunity candle because it steers clear of many irritants found in candles and actually purifies the air. It’s soot-free and releases an aroma that helps you breathe deeper, thanks to peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, and lemon.
“There are certain essential oils in the candle blend that are proven to help coughs, catarrh, bronchitis, and asthma,” says Reno. His best tip for burning the candle is to do so for an hour before bedtime. He also recommends using a candle douse to limit the smoke after burning.
– Candles can have harmful ingredients for our health like, paraffin wax, cheap oils, and fillers like plastic particles
– The amount of soot a candle emits into the air when burning is something to be conscious of. Cheaper wax (like paraffin) are proven to emit more soot than others
– It’s best to opt for soy, beeswax, or coconut wax based candles
– Do your research on proper burning and extinguishing techniques! @taylortoks on TikTok has great tips
Check out the Boku Immunity Candle HERE ($18.99). Make sure to keep a keen eye for what kind of wax candle you’re buying when shopping and brush up on burning techniques.