How Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde is Released When You Burn Scented Candles

How Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde is Released When You Burn Scented Candles

A new study out of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of York is telling the world to go easy on scented candles.

Professor Alastair Lewis is the person credited with conducting the quirky study, and he seems to have done us all a favor. The study found that some of the ingredients that scented candles release can be quite toxic, and even cancerous, when we inhale them.


Something called limonene is the guilty ingredient. The study looked at volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) but found that limonene is causing us the most potential harm.

Scarily enough, researchers discovered that the concentration of limonene in scented candles is up to 100 times higher than science previously thought.

So what is this stuff? Limonene commonly gives citrus candles their wonderful smell. And it is also found in many cheap cleaning products. In its original state, it is considered so safe that reports say some foods are even flavored with it. The problem comes in when it burns. Limonene mutates into formaldehyde when it is release into the air.

Technical Grade d-Limonene Candle Mold CleanerProf. Lewis’ study found that one in every two molecules of limonene transforms in to the toxic chemical when it comes into contact with naturally occurring gasses found in air.

Formaldehyde, the substance that is also used to preserve bodies after death, is nasty stuff. Breathing in too much, as stated above, can cause cancer. On the surface, it can cause a sore throat, scratchy eyes, a cough and sometimes nosebleeds.

Prof. Lewis and his team did find that certain houseplants can absorb formaldehyde from the air, such as various ferns, Ivy and lavender, but it seems like the safest thing to do would be to avoid the citrusy candles altogether, in the first place.

Why not slice a lemon and wipe down household counter tops with the real thing, for that fresh fruity scent.


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