In addition to smoking cigarettes and making toast in the bathtub, you may now put paraffin candles on your “to avoid” list. Lighting one of these wax candles can release toxins such as toluene and benzene into the atmosphere. Far from the relaxing or romantic gesture that these flammable favorites are intended to represent, paraffin could in fact cause cancer, dizziness or asthma if used on a regular basis. In 2009, researchers presented their findings to the annual American Chemical Society’s meeting in Washington, and identified paraffin candles as a previously unrecognized source of indoor air pollution. The National Candle Association maintains that paraffin is not toxic as it is approved by the FDA, but those with allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities, or other concerns about the use of petroleum products would do best to purchase beeswax or soy candles.
Soy candles made from hydrogenated soybean oil, and beeswax produced by the bodies of the humble insect, are clean-burning, last longer than paraffin, are environmentally friendly, and do not drip or leave sooty deposits. Beeswax in particular produces negative ions, which have been shown to increase the production of serotonin in the brain and elevate mood. As a business that is concerned with the health of the human animal and the spaces they inhabit, Bambu Batu carries a only soy and beeswax candles, including scented and unscented lines from Big Dipper Wax Works, VegePure and Sparx.
Now that you have been enlightened and want to get rid of those old paraffin offenders, there are a few resources that may help you to dispose of them with the minimum of environmental impact. “Take-back” programs such as the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District in Duluth, MN or ecycler.com accepts old paraffin candles or crayons via the post and recycles them into campfire starters or new drawing tools. Earth911 is an excellent site that allows you to find the appropriate resting place for just about anything, or if you are feeling crafty, you can even make your own ski wax with old candles.
Lighten your load and get rid of the old oil-based tea lights and tapers for something a little more natural!