Posted by Jeff on 4/16/2013
The addition of fragrance to a candle formulation is commonplace in the United States. In fact, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of candles sold in the U.S. are scented. Candle manufacturers work closely with fragrance companies to develop scented formulations that are not only pleasing, but will burn safely and properly.
The aroma from a lighted scented candle is released through the evaporation of the fragrance from the hot wax pool and from the solid candle itself. Like unscented candles, properly-formulated scented candles will primarily produce water vapor and carbon dioxide when burned. The only difference is that a fragrance is also released with a scented candle.
Most scented candles contain a combination of natural and synthetic fragrances These fragrance materials may be derived from essential oils or from synthetic aroma chemicals. A well-made candle will contain only fragrance materials approved for candle use; the addition of fragrance to a candle formulation should be carefully monitored to ensure that the candle will burn cleanly and properly.
Candle manufacturers can select from more than 2,000 aroma chemicals and essential oils to develop scents that are both pleasing to consumers and compatible with candle use. These fragrance materials are safe, high-quality ingredients that are also found in many perfumes, bath soaps, lotions and shampoos.
Various health and safety tests are conducted on the raw fragrance materials that are used in candles and other consumer products. Reputable candle manufacturers use only expertly-formulated fragrances specifically approved for candle use.
Fragrance Questions & Answers
Are scented candles safe?
Yes. Decades of research and a history of safe use in the marketplace support the safety of fragrances in candles.
A well-made candle produces water vapor and carbon dioxide when properly burned; the only difference with a scented candle is that a small amount of fragrance is also released. Reputable candle manufacturers use only fragrances approved for candle use, and test their candles to ensure a clean and proper burn.
What makes a candle an aromatherapy candle?
Most fragranced candles are not true "aromatherapy" candles.
Aromatherapy calls for creating physiological or therapeutic effects through the use of essential oils extracted from plants and absorbed in the body through massage, ingestion or smell. Many scented candles do not contain essential oils; those that do rarely contain amounts large enough to produce true aromatherapy effects. Instead, most scented candles create pleasing psychological effects from the ambient aroma of fragrances. This is often referred to as "aroma-chology."
Do scented candles soot more than unscented candles?
Although the oils found in certain fragrances may slightly increase the small amount of soot that a candle may produce, a well-formulated scented candle will burn cleanly and will not produce any significant amount of soot. As with any candle, the primary factors that cause sooting are flame instability and a too-long wick, not fragrance or color or wax type.
NCA-member candle manufacturers work closely with fragrance manufacturers to ensure that fragrances are appropriately incorporated into candle formulations to result in scented candles that burn safely and properly.
Are scented candles that use essential oils safer?
A natural ingredient is not necessarily any safer than a manufactured or synthesized ingredient, and some essential oils are extremely toxic to humans in very small amounts. NCA members are committed to using fragrances that are safe and approved for use in candles, whether "natural" or synthesized.
Is there such a thing as too much fragrance in a candle?
Yes. For every candle formulation, there is a maximum amount of fragrance that can be added before the candle will no longer burn properly. NCA members carefully monitor the addition of fragrances to ensure that their scented candles will burn cleanly and safely. There have been some reports of homemade and craft-fair candles containing too much fragrance, or fragrances not approved for candle use. This can lead to improper burn performance or excess sooting.
Are lead-core wicks found in scented candles?
It’s highly unlikely that you would find a lead wick in any candle sold in the U.S. today. Lead-core wicks have been banned from the U.S. since 2003, and members of the National Candle Association - which account for more than 90% of candles made in the U.S. - have not used lead wicks for more than 30 years. Reputable manufacturers use cotton, cotton-paper, zinc-core or tin-core wicks, all of which are known to be safe.
Are the fragrances used in scented candles tested for health effects and safety?
Health and safety studies are conducted for fragrance materials, including toxicological and dermatological tests. The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) tests individual fragrance materials, develops testing protocols, and collects fragrance safety data from around the world. RIFM submits its finding to the International Fragrance Association, which establishes safety guidelines and standards for fragrance manufacturers worldwide.
Do scented candles emit dangerous amounts of toxic pollutants into the air?
No. A properly-formulated candle, whether scented or unscented, will primarily produce water vapor and carbon dioxide when burning correctly. While microscopic amounts of organic compounds or special ingredients used to formulate a particular scented candle may be released when a candle is burned, they are too minimal to pose a health risk.
Are scented candles triggers for asthma and allergies?
Millions of Americans, including allergy and asthma sufferers, use scented candles without any negative effects. However, it is always possible a particular fragrance may trigger a negative reaction in sensitive individuals. People with known sensitivities to specific fragrances may wish to avoid candles of those scents. In addition, consumers should remember to burn all candles, scented or otherwise, in well-ventilated areas.