Are Your Candles Toxic?

By Erik Servia

Since we've been making candles, I've lost count of just how many people have told me that they were allergic or sensitive to burning candles. My response:

You've only had bad candles.

When you take a closer look at what exactly goes into mass-produced store bought candles, it's no wonder people develop unpleasant physical reactions. At best, they are potentially hazardous – at worst, they are downright poisonous. What's more, the candle industry is largely unregulated; with safety standards imposed by the candle makers, themselves. So, what makes a bad candle?


The major component of of most commercially available candles, and likely the most hazardous ingredient, paraffin wax tops the list for reasons why your candles may be toxic. Discovered in 1830 by Dr. Karl Ludwig von Reichenbach, paraffin wax became the standard fuel for candle making by the 1850s and remains so to this day. In fact, I'd make a wager that any scented candle you pick up in a major retailer is either entirely, or mostly, made of paraffin wax. Why? Because it's cheap.

What's the big deal?

Petroleum Waste

Oil RefineryWell, paraffin wax is a byproduct of petroleum oil refineries. You know the stuff that combusts inside your car's engine and creates noxious gasses responsible for global warming, acid rain, environmental devastation, and just plain nasty air quality? Paraffin wax is the leftover waste from making that, which has then been distilled, chemically bleached, and deodorized. So, not only is paraffin wax derived from a non-renewable resource, it's basically chemical garbage that you're burning inside your house for you and your family to breathe.


Toxic Chemicals

A 2009 study by researchers at South Carolina State University discovered that burning paraffin wax candles emits a number of hazardous chemicals, including toluene and benzene, which are known carcinogens. They concluded that frequent use of paraffin wax candles created enough indoor air pollution likely to cause health problems, such as:

  • Skin and respiratory irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Lung Cancer

A 2004 study by Maastricht University in the Netherlands concluded that one day of burning candles inside of a church produced about 20 times more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than could be sampled by the side of a busy city street.

Other toxins emitted from burning paraffin wax include: Acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, & Cyclopentene.

Sounds great, doesn't it?



Soybean FieldLux Arcana Candle Co. is committed to making a superior candle - one that is better for your health and better for our planet. To achieve this, we've opted to make all of our scented candles with only 100% natural soy wax. These days, there are a number of vegetable-based candle waxes on the market, but soy wax remains the popular choice for clean burning, eco-friendly candles.

Cleaner Burning

In the same study by South Carolina State University, researchers tested a number of various soy wax candles alongside the paraffin samples. They found that none of the vegetable-based waxes produced any toxic chemicals. Moreover, burning soy wax produces hardly any soot as compared to paraffin, so your house and your air remain clean. Because soy wax is a natural plant product and produces no hazardous chemicals when burned, it is far less likely to stimulate allergic reactions or irritate your respiratory system.

Longer Lasting

Soy wax burns slower than paraffin and at lower temperatures, so the wax is consumed much more efficiently. So while a soy candle may cost more upfront than a cheaper paraffin candle, they are more cost effective because you wont have to replace them as often. With proper care, our candles can last up to twice as long as a similar sized paraffin candle!


Soy wax is made from soybean oil, so it's a resource that is green and renewable. Lux Arcana Candle Co. uses wax made from soybeans that are grown domestically in the USA, so the use of soy wax also benefits our local farmers and stimulates our agricultural industry. Soybean crops naturally add nitrogen to the soil, so they are a great rotation crop, often paired with corn or grains. The leftover plant material from producing soy wax can be used as feed for farm animals.

Nothing Left Behind

Because soy wax burns much more efficiently than paraffin, there is often very little wax left once the candle is used up. Because it is a natural plant product, any soy wax residue is completely biodegradable. Soy wax cleans up easily with just soap and water, so spills aren't a problem. Even better, our glass candle jars are easy to clean for recycling and go great in the kitchen!


Check out our full line of luxuriously scented soy candles that are sustainably made and cleaner burning.

Browse Candles →


Related Posts