Scented candles and indoor pollution: myth or reality?

Would you like to give your home a unique charm with a scented candle? Need to remove bad smells? It is possible to fill the interior of your home with the sweet scent of vanilla, rose, or jasmine… but not at any price (and we're not just talking about money). Are scented candles as polluting as they say? Unfortunately, yes… but there are solutions.

Scented candles, a decorative trend that comes with its risks

Combine the light of a small flame with a pleasant scent of lavender, rose or orange blossom, it is possible thanks to the scented candles. A real interior decoration accessory, a charming interior asset, an ally of comfort in the evening… Despite the sometimes very high prices (often several pounds per scented candle), the success is there and the perfumes are multiplying.
However, this object combining glass, wax, and perfume is not flawless. A beautifully scented candle certainly makes an impression on the coffee table. But have you ever experienced symptoms such as headache, dry eyes, or a feeling of irritation after prolonged exposure?

Studies in recent years have shown that scented candles are a factor in indoor air pollution.
While indoor and outdoor air quality is at the centre of British people's concerns, it seems essential to put things (and scented candles) in context!

Indoor air pollution from scented candles is real

Like incense, scented candles were singled out by ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency) a few years ago for their harmfulness and their emissions of pollutants. Does this pleasant object, the scented candle, mean you harm?

Emissions of CO2, CO, VOC, and fine particles

All candles with added fragrance emit gases such as CO2 and CO (among others) during combustion while consuming oxygen.
After all, what could be more normal from a glowing flame and melting wax? They are the perfect recipes for indoor air pollution. The other problem is the emission of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) when burning a scented candle. These VOCs are particularly dangerous and the names benzene and formaldehyde may be familiar to you: these toxic substances are found in many products, not just scented candles (unfortunately).
Finally, there is the problem of fine particles emitted by each scented candle. Like car engines or heaters, the flame of a scented candle and its melting wax causes the emission of these particles, which are so small that they penetrate the heart of our lung alveoli.

Real side effects

While this is not so surprising in itself, scented candles’ side effects can be. Yes, scented candles are an olfactory delight. But do you prefer a polluted interior smelling of jasmine, rose, or vanilla, or a neutral one? The choice is not always obvious…
The "combustion air fresheners" that are scented candles, as some newspapers call them, are toxic. Burning incense is even worse for your health! So, as one man knows best (and it works for women too), you have been warned.

Measure your indoor air quality in real-time to prevent your scented candles from causing too much indoor air pollution. The Netatmo Smart Weather Station helps you to better control your outdoor and indoor environment! Get rid of indoor air pollution!

ADEME's advice to avoid indoor air pollution from scented candles

Moderate use without real danger… but beware of too many scented candles

It is not in burning a scented candle for 1 hour, one evening a week, that will cause you health problems! On the other hand, it is strongly recommended to avoid frequent and prolonged use of scented candles and other room fuels such as incense. Worse of all, do not mix different products (such as incense combined with a scented candle), especially in a small room: exposure could then become problematic.

Of course, precaution is required, and it is the excessive use of them that is mainly pointed out. Moreover, a classic candle, without perfume, also emits harmful substances, but less than a scented candle.

How to limit the negative effects of scented candles?

It's all about the right balance when it comes to scented candles, but also about common sense! To avoid health problems, remember to air well, ventilate efficiently and limit the use of scented candles (especially in narrow, closed environments).

The system Velux Active with Netatmo ventilates for you and helps you fight against indoor air pollution. When too much indoor pollution is detected and the air is no longer healthy, your home automatically benefits from a big breath of fresh air. Ideal if you are a fan of scented candles!

ADEME's advice to avoid indoor air pollution from scented candles

Although you are aware of the risks and side effects, do you still want to buy a scented candle? So these guidelines from ADEME can help you preserve your health.

  • Buy scented candles or incense with little material (wax, resin, etc.). The more fuel there is, the more air pollutants will be produced during combustion;
  • Stay away from the smoke of the scented candle to avoid inhaling it directly, and the headache will be avoided (for a while);
  • Do not use scented candles every day and let your home breathe between uses;
  • Do not expose sensitive people to scented candles: the elderly, asthmatics, sick people, children or pregnant women have a more vulnerable respiratory system. The harmful effects of a scented candle can then be multiplied tenfold;
  • In addition to the usual ventilation and airing instructions, remember to air the room for at least 10 minutes after extinguishing a scented candle, to renew the air.

Before you buy your next scented candles, think twice. But above all, remember to choose the least polluting candles for your home! You know that the risk exists, although it is small. The scented candle hides its game well behind its undeniably cosy side.