The Dangers of Scented Candles and Air Duct Cleaning

Many homeowners enjoy lighting scented candles in their homes to create a relaxing, romantic or pleasant mood. Unfortunately, these candles may be releasing harmful chemicals that pollute indoor air.

The most common candles are made from paraffin wax which is a petroleum byproduct that contains some of the nastiest toxins, including benzene, acetone and toluene, which are linked to allergies, asthma and cancer. Instead, try using 100% beeswax or soy candles with a non-tin wick. If you are one who burns candles all year round, consider having air duct cleaning in Des Moines IA.

Arguably the biggest issue with candles, however, is the fact that they are a serious fire hazard. Each year, fires caused by candles result in 677 injuries, 81 deaths, and $278 million in property damage. Between 2014-2018, US fire departments responded to 7610 home fires that started with candles. All it takes is a moment of neglect for a candle to cause a serious, life threatening situation. DSM_Fire

You don’t have to use candles to make your home smell good. The air flow can be improved by regular air filter cleaning, emptying the trash, maintaining a clean home and air vent cleaning service. You should also have your air ducts cleaned and checked periodically. Over time, mold, dust and debris can build up inside your ducts. Supreme provides the best professional duct cleaning service in Des Moines IA. Call us today for a free quote.

  1. Soot

If you’ve ever seen dark stains on the walls, furniture, or light-colored fabrics in your home it’s likely caused by soot from candles. Regardless of what they’re made from, all candles produce soot. When a candle burns, it releases black soot particles into the air. These particles are small enough to be inhaled and are known as respiratory irritants, leading to coughing and wheezing.

Soot particles also collect on surfaces and can lead to a dull or gray appearance over time. They’re also known to clog vents and filters, creating a fire hazard. If the soot from a candle accumulates, it can block air flow, making your HVAC system less efficient and potentially shortening its lifespan. Des Moines air duct cleaning can help clear out soot in your home.

A common misconception is that certain types of candles are “soot-free,” but this simply isn’t true. All candles produce soot and other pollutants when burned. A key factor is the wax and wick used in the candle. Paraffin wax candles tend to create more soot and smoke, whereas vegetable and beeswax candles burn more cleanly.

The toxins released by burning candles are known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. Paraffin wax candles release toluene and benzene, which are known carcinogens, as well as formaldehyde, acetone, and phenol. Synthetic fragrances often contain phthalates, which are hormone-disrupting chemicals.

It’s important to keep in mind that the toxins released by burning scented candles aren’t just emitted from the flame itself, but from the combustion of the oil inside the candle. One study at The National library of Medicine, found that some candles emitted volatiles before the flame even touched the wick.

The easiest way to reduce soot and toxicity from a candle is by trimming its wick before lighting it for the first time. This will ensure that the candle burns evenly and prevent a large portion of the wick from becoming exposed to the flame. Choose a candle that has a cotton or paper wick and avoid cored wicks, which are often made from zinc or tin and can release these metals into the air as they burn.

  1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

DSM_CandleWhether they are made from paraffin or soy, scented candles release a litany of chemicals and volatile organic compounds into the air while burning. These toxins can be as harmful to your respiratory system as second-hand smoke or perfumes and can irritate your nose, throat, eyes and mucus membranes. The good news is that you can eliminate many of the harmful chemicals by using candles with a natural fragrance and trimming the wick to less than 1/4 inch. Some natural alternatives, such as pure beeswax or soy wax candles, emit far fewer VOCs than their petroleum-based counterparts. However, most candlemakers do not reveal all of the ingredients in their scents so finding a truly organic, natural product may be difficult.

Other sources of VOCs include paint, varnishes and varnish strippers, solvents, cleaning products, pesticides and some building materials and furnishings. You can reduce your exposure to these VOCs by buying low-VOC paint, varnishes and strippers and storing open containers outdoors. Similarly, you can improve your indoor air quality by opening windows and running exhaust fans when using these kinds of products.

Chemicals like chlorine, bromine and fluoride that are used to disinfect surfaces and clean homes also emit VOCs. These VOCs can wreak havoc on your respiratory system if you are exposed to them over extended periods and have an existing respiratory condition such as bronchitis, sinus infections or asthma. They can also aggravate symptoms in children or pets.

Inhaling low levels of VOCs over a long period can also cause liver and kidney damage. This is especially true for certain types of VOCs such as benzene, toluene and formaldehyde.

The bottom line is that if you want to maintain good indoor air quality, avoid scented candles and any other products that release VOCs. Choose organic and natural products whenever possible and use a ventilation system that circulates air in your living spaces. Also, be sure to open windows and run exhaust fans when applying household cleaners or working with wood products. Remember that you can improve your home’s insulation and ventilation system by hiring Des Moines Air Duct Cleaning.

  1. Allergens

Many people use candles to create a warm, inviting atmosphere inside their home. While this is a nice idea, scented candles can actually contribute to indoor air pollution and cause issues for allergy sufferers and others who are sensitive to chemicals in the home environment. Candles release soot, toxic fumes and other pollutants that can contaminate ventilation systems and air ducts while they are burning. If you want to learn more about air vent cleaning, visit our website here.

Candles are often made with paraffin wax, a byproduct of petroleum that releases chemical compounds when burned. These include benzene, toluene and limonene, which are linked to cancer and respiratory problems. Paraffin also releases the volatile organic compounds acetone and formaldehyde. These toxic chemicals contaminate vents and air ducts while the home’s HVAC system redistributes the indoor air.

These toxins can then circulate throughout the home, affecting those who are sensitive to these irritants. They can also contribute to allergies, asthma and other health conditions, especially in children. The best solution is to choose an alternative, such as beeswax or soy-based candles that are free of fragrance and nontoxic. They are typically more expensive than paraffin-based candles, but they burn longer and are less likely to cause allergy or respiratory problems.

You should also look for a label that says 100% soy or vegetable oil, or one that is labeled as being made with organically grown or non-GMO soy. If you want to avoid soy, try organic coconut or palm oils instead, as these are harvested from plantations that do not use pesticides and have a lower impact on the environment.

There are also other alternatives, such as unscented battery-powered candles that offer a warm glow and a clean, neutral fragrance that does not contaminate the air. Be sure to trim the wick 1/4 inch before lighting and make it a point to burn the candle for no more than 1-2 hours. Those who are very sensitive to the scents in a room should consider using air purifiers and natural air fresheners, such as essential oil diffusers or homemade DIY air fresheners, to improve their indoor environment.

  1. Toxins

The great smelling candles you use to create that cozy, relaxing mood can actually be harmful to your indoor air quality. Even non-scented and unadorned candles release pollutants into the air as they burn, contributing to a buildup of particulate matter that can irritate your respiratory tract and trigger allergies or asthma symptoms. These particles also contaminate vents and ductwork as they travel through your home’s HVAC system. Do you need an air duct cleaner in Des Moines? Look no further, contact Des Moines Air Duct Cleaning today. 

Especially dangerous are the chemicals released by paraffin wax candles. This petroleum byproduct is bleached, deodorized and processed to make candle wax. When burned, paraffin wax releases volatile organic compounds like benzene, acetone and toluene. These are the same chemicals that are found in diesel fuel emissions, and they have been linked to skin problems, respiratory illnesses and cancer.

Most candles have cored wicks of tin or zinc to keep them upright while burning. These wicks also release heavy metal particles into the air when burned. Although the levels are low, these metals may cause breathing irritation and throat or flu-like illnesses.


Regardless of whether your candles are scented or unscented, they all produce soot when burned and contribute to the buildup of particulate matter in your home’s vents, ductwork and other parts of your home’s HVAC system. It is important to avoid paraffin wax candles and opt for beeswax, soy, or other plant-based alternatives instead. Be sure to trim the wick before lighting and never burn candles in a jar, as this limits airflow, resulting in incomplete combustion and more soot. You should also consider investing in an air purifier to reduce the toxic chemicals that enter your home’s indoor environment. The good news is, there are more and more manufacturers producing safe candles that will evoke positive memories and enhance the décor of your home without damaging your indoor air quality. If you are in need of an air vent cleaning, contact us today. We provide you with before & after pictures of your vents. Des Moines Air Duct Cleaning provides the best professional duct cleaning services.

Leave a Comment