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Candles and Indoor Air Quality?

Candles can be a means of relaxation and in some cases even therapeutic but how do Candles and Indoor Air Quality mix? To answer that question we need to look at a few factors.

First lets examine what is happening when burning a candle. The key word in that sentence is “burning”. When a candle is lit, it is burning and expelling contaminates into the air. There are candles that burn cleaner than others. Some utilize different types of wicks and wax (non paraffin based) that do not produce as many toxins but the fact remains that there is still something burning. Cleaner burning candles are typically more expensive and usually sold through specialty shops. If your candle is in a glass jar/container look at the top rim of the jar. If there is a build-up of black soot, your candle is not very clean.

Second, we need to look at where the candles are being used. Three very common areas are the bathroom for relaxation during a bath, the powder room to help cover odors and the main living area to provide a pleasant aroma to the area. In the case of the bathroom and powder room these are typically small and more confined areas that might need some thought when it comes to using candles and the indoor air quality. A living room will have more open area but still needs some considerations.

Third, we need to consider quantity and duration. Are you taking a bath with 50 candles lit and staying there for an hour? Are you lighting a candle for 2 minutes after using the powder room? The obvious observation is that the longer you burn a candle, the more contaminates it will produce.

So how do we answer the question of candles and indoor air quality?

While the simple answer would be to not utilizes candles at all, we know that won’t work for everyone and probably isn’t necessary. There are a few simple steps you can take to maintain good indoor air quality and still have the benefits of candles.

The first is to utilize a candle that burns as clean as possible. As stated above these are going to use different materials. Paraffin is an oil based product and produces the most contaminates. Waxes made from beeswax, coconut oil or even soy are going to produce less contaminates (not zero, but less). The wick will also make a difference. Cotton, hemp or wood will burn the cleanest. The added fragrances should be essential oils that are free from UV inhibitors and phthalates.

Next, and here is where Air King comes into the picture, ventilation is key. We talked about using candles in a small, enclosed area. A simple solution is to utilize the exhaust fan in the bathroom. This will still allow the benefits of the candles while providing an indoor air quality solution. Now we know that there is a balancing with exhaust and candles. You might argue that using an exhaust fan while burning candles is going to exhaust all the fragrances out, rendering the candles useless. There is some truth to that but in most cases unless your exhaust fan is completely overpowered for your space, some of the fragrance will stay. We will argue that increased air quality with some fragrance is much better for you than a large amount of fragrance and poor air quality. A second argument is that exhaust fans are loud. With the advancement of technology in exhaust fans there are now a large amount of fans that operate at an almost silent level so the peaceful atmosphere you are creating with the candles will not be upset.

If you are trying to create the absolute best indoor air quality for your home as possible, refraining for using candles is your best option (by the way, candles are not the only item in your home that could be contributing to poor indoor air quality). If you still want to use candles, look to minimize their affect by following the item outlined in this post and find that balance between air quality and the benefits of candles.

To learn more about indoor air quality, read our other blog post on the subject. For more information about Air King products including exhaust fans, range hoods and fresh air intake, use the links in the menu at the top of this page.

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