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Why ‘fragrance’ might be a dirty word

paraffin mineral wax candle vs sustainable soy and coconut wax

Why ‘fragrance’ might be a dirty word

When it comes to candles and diffusers, there is something magical and about their ability to sooth or invigorate the senses. The cult of ‘smellness’ it seems, is here to stay. And who doesn’t love a wonderful smell? In a world where wellness and self care are an important part of what we strive for in life, the cult of the candle and the power of the aroma it emits has become an essential part of what the Danish refer to as ‘hygge’.

But as you swoon over the scent, how do you know what you are inhaling is good for you? Not all candles are created equally and this unregulated industry throws up inconclusive conflicting sources around what is good for us and what isn’t.

Environmentalist and self care advocate Jane Fonda’s cancer diagnosis has propelled the issue of what we inhale from firmly back into the spotlight. Her recent Instagram post points the finger towards pesticides and petrochemicals as a contributing cause of her illness. And the science is right behind her;  several academic studies have found that burning paraffin wax candles give off harmful fumes (toluene and benzene) which is linked to asthma and lung cancer.

The continuing lack of regulation however means that the candle industry can legally use the catchall term “fragrance” on an ingredient list…but the dirty reality is that many of the chemicals used to create candle and diffuser fragrances are synthetic petrochemicals derived from crude oil, a non renewable resource that carries carcinogens.

Not really something you would want to accept into your home 

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So it’s not enough to follow your nose… If you want clean ‘smellness’…and why wouldn’t we…? …do a little digging around your favourite candle brand and remember it is best to opt for candles made from ingredients such as sustainable soy wax or coconut wax, not ‘mineral’ wax as this is just another word for paraffin. Choose companies that state botanical oils (free from parabens & phthalates) or pure essential oils instead of ‘fragrance oils’ as this could be hiding a multitude of toxic chemicals. There are still a surprising number of luxury brands that continue to use paraffin in their candle ingredients…

Its just that nifty marketing speak means they are able to dress up their dirty words as something more innocent and palatable for you, the consumer.

So check the label content, scour the website, or ask at the company directly to learn more about their candle content and the elements that are being released into your home.

And if you see the word ‘fragrance’ on a list of ingredients that should be enough to make you run away in the opposite direction…

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