Candles are beautiful, aromatic, and often used for special occasions and everyday use, but do they emit dangerous chemicals? In particular, do candles produce carbon monoxide? This is an important question to answer, especially for those who use candles regularly. The answer is more complex than you may think. To understand the facts and risks associated with burning candles, it is essential to look at the science behind them. This article will provide an overview of the facts you need to know about whether or not candles produce carbon monoxide.
Do Candles Produce Carbon Monoxide?
No, candles themselves do not produce carbon monoxide. However, burning a candle can produce carbon monoxide if there is not enough oxygen present for the candle to burn completely. This can happen in an enclosed space such as a bedroom or a tent, where the oxygen is used up more quickly.
What Materials Are Used To Make Candles?
- Paraffin: Paraffin is a petroleum-based wax commonly used to make candles. It can be found in various colors and scents and is often blended with other waxes or oils to improve its burning characteristics.
- Soy Wax: Soy wax is made from the oil of soybeans and has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its environmental friendliness. Soy candles burn longer and more evenly than paraffin candles but are more expensive.
- Beeswax: Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honeybees. It has been used for centuries to make candles, as it burns cleanly and slowly with minimal smoke or soot.
- Palm Wax: Palm wax is made from the oil of palm trees and is a popular choice for container candles due to its ability to form beautiful crystalline patterns when burned.
- Vegetable Wax: Vegetable wax is made from various plant-based oils and is often combined with paraffin to create a softer, more malleable wax.
- Gel Wax: Gel wax is a type of wax that is suspended in a gel-like medium. It can create unique shapes and designs, making it famous for decorative candles.
Do Candles Produce Carbon Monoxide?
- The short answer is yes, candles can produce carbon monoxide. Burning candles release various gases and particles into the air, including carbon monoxide.
- Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be toxic when inhaled in large amounts over long periods.
- The amount of carbon monoxide produced by burning a candle is minimal and not likely to be harmful in most cases. However, if you are in an enclosed space or have poor ventilation, the amount of carbon monoxide produced may be more significant and potentially dangerous.
- It is important to note that the type of wax used to make the candle can affect how much carbon monoxide is released. Paraffin wax produces more soot and smoke than other types of waxes, such as soy or beeswax, which can result in higher levels of carbon monoxide being emitted from the candle flame.
- If you are worried about the amount of carbon monoxide produced by burning candles, you can opt for a candle made from natural waxes such as soy or beeswax. These types of candles will produce less smoke and soot, resulting in lower levels of carbon monoxide.
- To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is essential to burn candles in well-ventilated areas and never leave them unattended.
- If you have any concerns about the safety of burning candles in your home, it is best to contact a professional for advice and guidance.
How Much Do Burning Candles Produce Carbon Monoxide?
- Burning candles produce tiny amounts of carbon monoxide. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of carbon monoxide produced by burning a single candle is approximately 0.02 parts per million (ppm). This is a minute amount and does not pose any health risks.
- The amount of carbon monoxide produced by burning candles increases with the number of candles used. Burning multiple candles in a confined space can lead to higher levels of carbon monoxide in the air, which could be hazardous if inhaled.
- The wax in a candle can also affect the amount of carbon monoxide emitted when burned. Paraffin wax is commonly used in many types of candles and produces more carbon monoxide than other types, such as beeswax or soy wax, when burned.
- Scented candles may also produce more carbon monoxide than unscented varieties. This is because the scented oils used to give the candles their fragrance can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when burned, which can react with other compounds in the air to create carbon monoxide.
- The wick of a candle can also affect how much carbon monoxide is produced when it is burned. A wick that is too short or too long can cause the candle to burn inefficiently and emit more carbon monoxide than necessary.
What Are The Health Risks Associated With Burning Candles?
- Soot: When a candle is burning, it produces soot, a type of smoke. This soot can contain tiny particles of carbon that can be breathed in by humans and animals. These particles can damage the lungs and cause respiratory problems such as asthma or bronchitis.
- Carbon Monoxide: Burning candles do produce small amounts of carbon monoxide (CO), which is a colorless, odorless gas that can be toxic if inhaled in large quantities. While the amount of CO produced by candles is generally meager and not enough to pose any health risks, it is still essential to take precautions when burning candles indoors.
- Lead: Some candles may contain lead in the wick, which can be released into the air when burned. Lead exposure has been linked to various health issues, such as learning disabilities, behavioral problems, fertility issues, and cancer. Therefore, it is essential to avoid using any candles with lead wicks or those labeled as “lead-free.”
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Burning candles can also release VOCs, which are chemical compounds that can harm human health. These compounds can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, and some may even be carcinogenic.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Burning Candles
- Burning a candle for an extended period. Burning a candle for too long can result in the production of soot and smoke, which can produce carbon monoxide.
- Burning a candle in a confined space. Burning candles in small or enclosed spaces can increase the risk of carbon monoxide production due to the lack of ventilation.
- Using old or expired candles. Candles that are old or expired may contain impurities that can produce carbon monoxide when burned.
- Not using the correct wick size for the candle container size. The wick should be the correct size for the container, as a large wick will cause more smoke and soot production, which can lead to increased levels of carbon monoxide.
- Not using a proper candle holder. Using a holder that is not designed for the candle can lead to an uneven burn which can produce more soot and smoke, thus increasing the risk of carbon monoxide production.
How To Reduce The Risk Of Carbon Monoxide When Burning Candles
- Ensure you have proper ventilation. Burning candles indoors can increase the level of carbon monoxide in the air if there is not enough ventilation. Open windows or use a fan to help keep the air circulating and prevent gas buildup.
- Make sure your candles are made from natural materials. Paraffin wax candles can produce more soot and smoke than beeswax or soy candles, which may contain fewer toxins and be less likely to produce carbon monoxide when burned.
- Don’t leave a burning candle unattended for extended periods, and never leave them burning overnight or while you’re away from home.
- Keep your wicks trimmed short (about 1/4 inch) to reduce smoke production and decrease the risk of soot buildup that could lead to carbon monoxide production in the air.
- Avoid burning multiple candles at once, as this can cause an increase in soot production and further elevate your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Use battery-powered candles as an alternative to burning traditional wax candles, as they don’t produce any smoke or soot and don’t require ventilation.
Safety Tips For Using Candles
Keep candles away from flammable objects
This includes things like curtains, furniture, paper, and clothing. If a candle is too close to something that can catch fire, it increases the risk of starting a fire.
Do not leave candles unattended
If you leave a room or go to sleep while a candle is still burning, there is a risk of starting a fire. Blow out all candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
Keep candles out of reach of children and pets
Children and pets can easily knock over a candle, which can start a fire. It is important to keep candles out of reach of children and pets to prevent this from happening.
Do not burn candles in drafty areas
Drafty areas can cause candles to flicker and create hot wax that can start a fire. It is best to avoid burning candles in drafty areas to prevent this from happening.
Use caution when burning scented candles.
Scented candles often contain chemicals that can be released into the air when they are burned. These chemicals can harm your health if you are exposed to them for too long.
In conclusion, candles can produce carbon monoxide when burned. The amount of carbon monoxide produced by a candle depends on the type of wax used, the wick material, and the additives present in the candle. Generally, candles made from paraffin wax and cotton wicks produce the most carbon monoxide, while those made from beeswax, soy wax, and vegetable-based wax produce the least.