Do Scented Candles Pose a Risk to Pregnant Women?

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Scented candles are one of my favorite gifts to give and gifts to receive. Useful, luxurious, and often deliciously scented, I have been known to continuously burn them throughout the evening. However scented candles are not always a luxury to welcome. Scented candles have been known to be extremely dangerous during pregnancy although recently, those studies have been called into question.  While it is said that any cheaper candles when burned, release chemical toxins not only harmful to the baby but additionally harmful to you as well, many researchers have disproven those claims.

After much research, I came to the conclusion, just like with hand and body lotion, mamas-to-be must inspect the scented candle ingredients. I have put together a list if any new mom is worried about her baby’s health and her favorite candle- do not worry!

The biggest issue with candles are toxic wax and, in the case of older candles, toxic wicks.

Look out for aromatherapy candles made of paraffin—a petroleum byproduct—which releases carcinogenic soot when burned. The soot can also cause respiratory problems and will aggravate the conditions of those who already have asthma, lung, or heart problems. Other toxic chemicals that may be present in the paraffin mixture and released through burning include Acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, Cyclopentene. Some of the toxins are found in other products such as paint, lacquer and varnish removers- all heavy-duty chemical stuff!

Conduct the No-Lead-Test. To find out whether a candle has a lead wick, follow these steps: Look for a “lead-free” label when shopping for new candles. If you have a candle that has not been burned yet, rub the tip of the wick of on a piece of paper. If it leaves a gray mark, like a pencil, the wick contains a lead core. If you’ve already purchased the candle, take it back to the store. For candles that have already been burned, you should just throw out any that have metal cores as a precaution- they can release heavy metal chemicals into the air. Simply look at the tip of the wick and see if it has a metal core. If you still can’t tell, peel back some of the cotton.

Buy 100 percent beeswax candles with cotton wicks, which are free of toxic chemicals. Beeswax can cost as much as six times the price of paraffin, so many candle manufacturers blend paraffin with their beeswax to cut costs. Be sure your candles say 100 percent beeswax on the label. Or buy candles made from 100 percent vegetable-based waxes, which are also non-toxic.

Additionally, anytime you burs a scented candle, crack a window open a little to guarantee ventilation. Healthy air circulation is vital for cleaning out the chemical toxins candles can circulate.

Shoshi W.
Shoshi is an undergraduate student at Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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