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  • Candles- EPA Warning

    Think Twice About Candles
    October 7, 2005

    Using Candles with Care is more than Fire Safety

    Use Candles with Care is this years message for Fire Protection Week. The number of fires related to candles is disturbing. During 2002, candles in U.S. homes caused 18,000 structure fires, 130 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $333 million in property damage.

    Along with fire hazards, an emerging problem is soot from candles. Soot is unburned matter from the candle. King Charles of England instituted an indoor air quality program in the 1600's. It required ceiling heights of over 10 feet and windows higher than they were wide. The reason for this policy: high ceilings helped prevent health problems caused by candle soot.

    Scented candles are the major soot-causing culprits. Paraffin is a petroleum product and even fragrances can be petroleum-based synthetics. Soot from petroleum based candles is toxic, and the amount of soot produced varies greatly from candle to candle. Soot particles can travel deep into the lungs leaving those with asthma, compromised immune systems, and heart or lung disease particularly vulnerable. In addition, other chemicals often used for fragrance are toxic as well.

    How a candle burns also contributes to how much soot it produces. Small, stable flames produce less than large flickering flames. Drafts cause sporadic sooting and distribute soot through the air. Candles in glass containers produce more soot because the container disturbs the flame shape and causes unsteady air flow around the candle. In addition, candles that are snuffed or blown out produce more soot than those put out by cutting off the tip of the wick.

    Testing has also shown that almost one third of the wire-type wicks contain lead. Lead has been removed from such things as gasoline and paint, but until recently candles represented an unrecognized source of lead. Though U.S. manufacturers are now prohibited from using wicking that contains lead, it is present in the U.S. candle market due to foreign imports.

    When choosing candles remember these few tips:
    • Not all candles, even scented candles, cause hazardous conditions. But since labels don't tell us which ones are safe, stay clear of shiny metal inside-the-candle wicks. Choose cotton wicking when possible.
    • Trim wicks to one-quarter inch for clean burning, and keep candles out of drafts.
    • Avoid slow-burning candles with additives. These candles will feel greasy to the touch. Purchase soy or pure beeswax candles for a healthier option.
    • For aromatherapy, choose only natural plant-based essential oils and place a few drops in a diffuser, heat a few diluted drops in a microwave, or put the drops into boiling water.

    As you choose your candles strive to find a safe balance between indoor air quality and fire safety, and above all remember to use your candles with care.

    This column was submitted by Vicki Schmidt, a GIS Environmental Specialist with the Maine DEP's Bureau of Land and Water Quality. She is also a State Fire Instructor with Maine Fire Training & Education and a firefighter on the Buckfield Fire Dept.
    In Our Back Yard is a weekly column of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
    E-mail your environmental questions to or send them to In Our Back Yard, Maine DEP, 17 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.


    Last edited by Jonesie; August 16th, 2007, 06:54 AM.

  • #2

    EPA Report: Candles & Incense

    "Black Soot Deposition (BSD) is also referred to as ghosting, carbon tracking, carbon tracing, and dirty house syndrome. Complaints of BSD have risen significantly since 1992 (Krause, 1999).

    Black soot is the product of the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels. Complete combustion would result in a blue flame, and would produce negligible amounts of soot and carbon monoxide. Until recently, the source for the black soot in homes was unknown.

    Through interviews and recent experiments, it is now believed that frequent candle burning is one of the sources of black soot. The amount of soot produced can vary greatly from candle to candle.

    One type of candle can produce as much as 100 times more soot than another type."


    Note: The following is from the EPA Report "Candles and Incense As Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution: Market Analysis And Literature Review, " dated Jan. 2001.
    Prepared by National Risk Management, Research Laboratory.


    The report summarizes available information on candles and incense as potential sources of
    indoor air pollution. It covers (1) market information and (2) a scientific literature review. The
    market information collected focuses on production and sales data, typical uses in the US, and
    data on the sources and quantities of imported products.

    The estimated total sales of candles in
    1999 varied between $968 million and $2.3 billion, while imports were $486 million. The US
    imports and exports of incense in 1999 were $12.4 and 4.6 million, respectively. The scientific
    literature review gathered information regarding the emission of various contaminants generated
    when burning candles and incense, as well as the potential health effects associated with
    exposure to these contaminants. Burning candles and incense can be sources of particulate

    Burning candles with lead core wicks may result in indoor air concentrations of lead
    above EPA-recommended thresholds. Exposure to incense smoke has been linked with several
    illnesses, and certain brands of incense also contain chemicals suspected of causing skin

    Table of Contents

    1. Findings
    1.A Economic Data on Candle and Incense Production and Sales
    1.B Potential Indoor Air Quality Impacts of Burning Candles and Incense
    2. Background
    3. Economic Data on Candle and Incense Production and Sales
    3.A Candles
    3.B Incense

    4. Potential Indoor Air Quality Impacts of Burning Candles and Incense
    4.A Candles
    Lead Wick Emissions
    Other Metals
    Particulate Matter
    Candle Soot

    4.B Incense
    Carbon Monoxide
    Musk Xylene, Musk Ketone, and Musk Ambrette
    Particulate Matter
    Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons
    5. References

    1. Findings

    The purpose of this report is to collect economic information regarding the production and sales
    of candles and incense in the US, including information about imports. A second objective is to
    review the scientific literature regarding emission rates and potential human health effects
    associated with burning candles and incense. The following is a brief overview of the findings.


    The Census Bureau reports 107 manufacturing establishments; however, industry
    estimates range from 160 to over 200 manufacturers. Many manufacturers are very small.

    • Candle sales have been growing rapidly in the last 10 years (10 to 15 percent per year),
    fueled by consumer interest in aroma therapy and increased demand for home fragrance
    products in general.

    • The Census Bureau reports a total value of shipments in 1997 of $968 million; industry
    estimates put 1999 sales at $1.3 billion just for scented candles, and up to $2.3 billion for
    all candles.

    • The top five countries that export candles to the US are China, Taiwan, England, Hong
    Kong, and Mexico.

    • There are no public data on incense manufacturers; private data show at least 26
    manufacturers. Limited discussions with some industry representatives indicate that there
    are probably many more very small manufacturers.

    • The top five countries that export incense to the US are India, China, Thailand, Japan,
    and Hong Kong.


    • Burning candles containing lead core wicks can result in indoor air concentrations of lead
    above EPA-recommended thresholds.

    • In the scientific literature we reviewed, zinc and tin were found not to be emitted at
    concentrations that would raise concerns when burned indoors.

    • One study showed worst-case scenario concentrations of acrolein, formaldehyde, and
    acetaldehyde from candle emissions exceeding EPA-recommended thresholds.

    • Sooting can occur when combustion conditions are impaired when burning candles.
    Scented candles are more likely to produce soot than unscented candles. Sooting can
    cause property damage by blackening surfaces. We could not identify any studies on
    potential human health effects associated with soot from candles.

    • Several studies indicated links between exposure to incense smoke and health effects,
    including cancers and contact dermatitis. A few studies indicated possible mutagenic and
    genotoxic effects.

    • Studies that examined the emissions of specific contaminants from incense smoke
    indicated that benzene and particulate matter may be emitted at concentrations that could
    pose human health risks.


    The potential indoor air impacts of burning candles and incense have drawn increased attention
    in recent years. For example, candles with lead wicks have been found on the market and have
    been shown to emit lead when burned. Sooting associated with burning candles can cause
    property damage by blackening walls, ceilings, and carpets. Incense smoke can be a major
    source of particulates in indoor air. Emissions from incense may contain contaminants that can
    cause a variety of health effects.

    EPA is currently testing the emissions from candles and incense to generate data for analyzing
    risk management options. To support this effort, this report collects and presents information on
    the production and sales of candles and incense, the sources and quantities of imported products,
    and the typical product uses in the US. This information will help EPA in assessing the nature
    and extent of human exposure.

    In addition, this report summarizes the results and findings in the scientific literature
    regarding the emission rates of the various contaminants generated when burning candles and
    incense, as well as the potential health effects associated with exposure to these contaminants.
    EPA will use this information to further their research and understanding of the potential impacts
    of these sources on indoor air quality.



    A variety of candle types are manufactured in the US, including tapers, straight-sided dinner
    candles, spirals, column, votives, tealights, wax-filled containers, and novelties. Some are
    scented and all come in a wide range of colors. Wax candles contain petroleum wax, vegetable
    wax, animal wax, or insect wax as the primary fuel. The wax may contain additives for color,
    fragrance, stability, or to modify the burning characteristics.

    Gel candles use liquids such as mineral oil, terpene-type chemicals, or modified hydrocarbons as
    their primary fuel. These candles also contain chemical agents to increase the viscosity of the
    fuel to the point where the candle has a quasi-rigid property.

    Candles support one or more combustible wicks. Metal is put in some wick cores to keep the
    wick standing straight when the surrounding wax begins to melt. The metal prevents the wick
    from falling over and extinguishing itself as soon as the wax fails to support it. Many companies
    use a braided wick, which consists of three smaller wicks wound together to provide some

    Lead was commonly used as a core material until 1974 when the US candle manufacturing
    industry voluntarily agreed to discontinue use of lead in wicks. There are, however, still candles
    on the market that contain lead wick cores.
    Most of these are imported. Zinc is commonly used
    as an alternative metal core for the wicks, since it provides the desired amount of stiffness, burns
    off readily with the rest of the wick, and the airborne particles from zinc wicks are considered
    safer. (Telephone communication between Marianne McDermott, Executive Vice President,
    National Candle Association, and Lynn Knight, ERG, August 18, 2000.)

    Scented candles have grown in popularity and are widely used. The majority of candle
    manufacturers offer scented candles. Seventy-five percent of the manufacturers who are
    members of the National Candle Association (NCA) listed fragranced candles among the types of
    candles they produce. Forty percent say they manufacture citronella candles (NCA, 1999).
    Citronella is an insect repellant.

    Number of Candle Manufacturers

    The candle industry is a relatively small industry and does not have an abundance of publicly
    available data. The 1997 Economic Census published by the US Census Bureau reports 107
    manufacturing establishments with a primary North American Industry Classification System
    (NAICS) product classification code of 3399995, defined as “candles, including tapers” (US
    Census Bureau, 1999).

    These establishments collectively employed 8,536 workers. The Census Bureau has very limited
    data available since the industry is identified at the 7-digit level. ERG conducted an
    online search of the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers. This search identified 160
    candle manufacturers.

    However, the National Candle Association (NCA) estimates there are over 200 known commercial,
    religious, and institutional manufacturers of candles in the US, as well as many small
    craft producers (NCA, 1999). The NCA reports that 70 of their members are manufacturers
    and represent roughly 80 percent of the market.

    The three largest publicly traded manufacturers are Candle Corporation of America, Candle-Lite, Inc., and
    The Yankee Candle Company, Inc. (NCA, 1999). A Merrill Lynch Global Securities analyst
    reported that Yankee Candle Co. accounts for about 10 percent of industry sales. It has 100
    stores and plans to open 40 per year (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1999).

    A private market study by the Packaged Facts group reports that the candle industry is not only
    growing, but is undergoing some consolidation. This trend is not limited to smaller companies,
    but has included some of the leading manufacturers and marketers succumbing to stronger, better
    financed companies (Packaged Facts, 1999). This source believes that company buyouts are
    motivated by parent organizations attracted to making acquisitions in a thriving market and then
    helping these acquisitions grow their product lines and increase market share. For example,
    Yankee Candle’s partnership with Forstmann Little was reportedly undertaken specifically to
    fund a major expansion (Packaged Facts, 1999).

    Internet sales of candles have been increasing. Many smaller candle companies are emerging and
    doing well selling their products on the Internet, as the appearance of prominence can be
    obtained with a nice looking Web site. Selling on the Internet allows these manufacturers to sell
    candles at a reasonable price, since they can pass on savings accrued by avoiding middlemen,
    slotting fees paid to retailers, and advertising costs (Packaged Facts, 1999).

    There have been many types of new entrants to the growing candle market. Market research
    analysts believe that new marketers are attracted to this burgeoning market because candles are
    relatively simple to make, color, and fragrance, and novelty designs easily attract the buyer’s
    attention (Packaged Facts, 1999).

    The scented candles market has seen a lot of cross-category
    encroachment, as fashion designers, perfume manufacturers, and specialty chain marketers
    introduce their own lines of candles. For example, upscale retailers, such as The Gap, Pottery
    Barn, Pier One, and the Bombay Company, are marketing scented candles under their own
    trademark. SC Johnson, too, began selling candles fragranced with many of Glade’s air freshener
    trademark scents (Packaged Facts, 1999). Meanwhile, dedicated candle outlets, like Yankee
    Candle, White Barn Candle Company, and Illuminations, are expanding throughout the US
    (Packaged Facts, 1999).


    The 1997 Economic Census reports a total value of shipments for candle manufacturers of
    $968.3 million. Companies with shipments of $100,000 or more accounted for 98 percent of
    shipments, or $951 million. In 1992, shipments for these larger companies were $366 million.
    The value of shipments increased more than 2.5 times over this 5-year period.

    The source of these estimates is not disclosed in the NCA publication. 3
    This figure was interpreted from the Freedonia Group’s prediction that sales would increase 8.1 percent
    annually to reach $1.6 billion in 2003.

    The NCA states that the US candle consumer retail sales for 1999 are reported at $2.3 billion, not
    including candle accessories. NCA further reports that sales of all candles (unscented, scented,
    and for institutional and religious uses) have been growing 10 to15 percent a year since 1990
    (the source of these estimates is not disclosed in the NCA publication)
    (NCA, 1999).

    The Packaged Facts report claims that the growth of scented candles alone is close
    to 22 percent per year. This same report estimates that scented candles represent 55 percent of the
    $2.4 billion total home fragrance market, or $1.3 billion in scented candle sales. Another source,
    The Freedonia Group, estimated that 1999 candle sales were $1.17 billion. (This figure was
    interpreted from the Freedonia Group's prediction that sales would increase 8.1 percent
    annually to reach $1.6 billion in 2003.)

    Unity Marketing, another private marketing research firm, conducts annual surveys among gift
    manufacturers who produce and market candles and candle accessories. The most recent survey,
    which had 37 respondents, was conducted in 2000 and covered 1999 sales. The survey results
    showed an upward trend in total annual sales for 1999, with average company sales among
    respondents up 39 percent from $10 million in 1997 to $14 million in 2000. In 1999, 39 percent
    of companies surveyed reported annual sales of more than $10 million as compared with only 27
    percent in 1997. (See Table 1.)

    Table 1: Total Sales of Candle Companies in 1999 Total Annual Sales
    (Dollars in Thousands) Percent of Candle Companies Surveyed (a)
    > $50,000 12
    $26,000 - $50,000 9
    $11,000 - $25,000 18
    $6,000 - $10,000 9
    $1,000 - $5,000 27
    $500 - $999 15
    <$500 12

    (a) These statistics do not cover only candle manufacturing. They include
    manufacturers of candle accessories as well. Fifty-three percent of
    companies surveyed owned their own factory facilities. Figures do not
    add to 100 percent.

    Source: Unity Marketing, 2000.

    Candles are sold through a variety of distribution channels. According to the Unity Marketing
    survey, specialty retail stores capture a large portion of candle sales. (See Table 2.) Packaged
    Facts estimates that 51 percent of 1998 scented candle sales were attributable to mass
    merchandisers, 36 percent to supermarkets, and 13 percent to drug stores. (Unity Marketing and
    Packaged Facts each based their estimates on different distribution channel categories, thus not
    allowing direct comparisons.)

    More of the Study




    • #3

      EPA Report (continued)



      When candles are burned, they emit trace amounts of organic chemicals, including acetaldehyde,
      formaldehyde, acrolein, and naphthalene (Lau et al., 1997). However, the primary constituent of
      public health concern in candle emissions is lead.
      Metal was originally put in wicks to keep the
      wick standing straight when the surrounding wax begins to melt. The metal prevents the wick
      from falling over and extinguishing itself as soon as the wax fails to support it. The US candle
      manufacturing industry voluntarily agreed to cease production of lead-containing candles in
      1974, once it was shown that burning lead-wick candles resulted in increased lead concentrations
      in indoor air (Sobel et al., 2000b). Unfortunately, despite the voluntary ban, lead wick candles
      can still be found on the market.

      According to the National Candle Association (NCA), most US candle manufacturers have
      abided by the agreement to cease lead wick production. All of the NCA members have signed
      pledges not to use lead wicks in candles they manufacture. In addition, the NCA has sent a letter
      to all the candle manufacturers registered with the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers
      informing them of the potentially adverse health effects associated with wicks that contain lead
      and asking them to sign pledges not to use wicks containing lead in their candles. The NCA has
      also sent letters to retailer trade associations to inform them of this issue.

      The NCA states that only a small number (one or two) of candle manufacturers make their own
      wicks. The rest purchase wicks from wick manufacturers. One such manufacturer is Atkins and
      Pearce, Inc.; they claim to have stopped making and selling wicks with lead in 1999.

      The Candle Product Subcommittee of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) is
      working on voluntary standards for candle content, including labeling standards. It is anticipated
      that this standard will address the lead issue. The draft standard was presented at the fall 2000
      ASTM meeting.

      There have been limited investigations regarding the prevalence and source of candles with lead
      wicks. ERG did not find any statistical studies investigating the presence of lead-wick candles in
      the US marketplace.
      However, a handful of studies contain some information about the
      occurrence of lead-wick candles in the local study areas. The following discussion and Table 6
      present information on lead and other chemicals emitted from candles.

      Lead Wick Emissions

      In February 2000, the Public Citizens Health Research Group conducted a study of the lead
      content of candles in the Baltimore-Washington area. They purchased 285 candles from 12
      stores, excluding candle-only stores, and tested the wicks for the presence of lead. They found
      that nine candles, or 3% of the candles they purchased, contained lead. Total lead content ranged
      from approximately 24,000 to 118,000 g (33 to 85% of the weight of the metal in the candle

      An academic study was conducted on the emissions of lead and zinc from candles with metal-core
      wicks (Nriagu and Kim, 2000). For this study, the researchers purchased and tested candles
      (found in Michigan stores) that had metal-core wicks. Fourteen brands of candles manufactured
      in the US, Mexico, and China were found to contain lead. Emission rates from candles ranged
      from 0.52 to 327 g-lead/hour, resulting in lead levels in air ranging from 0.02 to 13.1 g/m 3 .

      These concentrations are below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
      Permissible Exposure Limit 4 (PEL- Permissible Exposure Limit: These OSHA standards were
      designed to provide health protection for industry employees by regulating exposure to
      over 300 chemicals. PELs are an 8-hour time weighted average.) of 50 g/m 3 , but above the EPA
      outdoor ambient air quality standard (EPA Outdoor Ambient Air Quality Standards: Required by
      the Clean Air Act, these standards were set for pollutants thought to harm public health and
      the environment, including the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children,
      and the elderly) 5 of 1.5 g/m 3 . It is important to note that, although the EPA standard
      was not developed for use for indoor air comparisons, it is used throughout this report as a
      conservative comparison value. OSHAs PEL values should also be interpreted with some caution
      for they are occupational standards not designed for the protection of the general public, children, or sensitive populations

      Another prominent study, van Alphen (1999), examined emissions and inhalation exposure-based
      risks for candles having lead wick cores.
      The mean emission rate was 770 g-lead/hour,
      with a range of 450 to 1,130 g-lead/hour. A candle burned for 3 hours at 1,000 g-lead/hour
      in a 50 m 3 room with poor ventilation is estimated to yield a 24-hour lead concentration of 9.9
      g/m 3 , and a peak concentration of 42.1 g/m 3 . OSHAs 50 g/m 3 PEL is not approached in this
      study, but again, EPAs outdoor ambient air standard of 1.5 g/m 3 is exceeded.

      Sobel et al. (2000a) modeled lead emissions from candles containing lead wicks. After burning
      multiple candles in a contained room, 24-hour lead concentrations ranged from 15.2 to 54.0
      g/m 3 . The candle containing the least amount of lead produced lead concentrations of 30.6
      g/m 3 in 3 hours. The maximum concentration of 54 g/m 3 is above the PEL standard of 50
      g/m 3 and EPAs outdoor ambient air quality standard of 1.5 g/m 3 .

      Other Metals


      After the ban on lead-containing wicks, candle companies began looking for alternatives that
      provided the desired characteristics of the lead wick without the harmful emissions. Many
      companies turned to braided wicks, which consist of three smaller wicks wound together to
      provide some stiffness. Zinc cores are also commonly used, since the metal provides the desired
      amount of stiffness, burns off readily with the rest of the wick, and does not have the same toxic
      effects as lead.

      Zinc is an essential element for human health. However, inhaling large amounts of zinc (as zinc
      dust or fumes from smelting or welding) over a short period of time (acute exposure) can cause
      a disease called metal fume fever.
      Very little is known about the long-term effects of breathing
      zinc dust or fumes (, 2000).

      Nriagu and Kim (2000) found the release of zinc from metal-core wicks to be 1.2 to 124
      g/hour, which is too low to be of health concern in indoor air. All nonferrous metals have
      traces of lead impurities; for zinc, the maximum lead content is 0.004% (Barker Co., 2000).
      The lead emissions from zinc wicks are below the detection level of most test methods (Barker
      Co., 2000), though one study found emission rates of 0.014 g-lead/hour (Ungers and
      Associates, 2000).


      Tin is also commonly used as a stiffener for candle wicks. It is considered to be nontoxic
      (Chemglobe, 2000). Tin has a maximum lead content of 0.08%, but, like zinc, lead emissions
      are below the detection limit when tin wicks are burned (Barker Co., 2000).


      Several organic compounds have been detected in candle emissions. Three articles have
      focused specifically on this topic. Lau et al. (1997) measured levels of selected compounds in
      candle materials and modeled human exposure to a worst-case scenario of 30 candles burned for
      3 hours in a 40 m 3 room with realistic air flow conditions. Schwind and Hosseinpour (1994)
      analyzed candle materials and the combustion process, and created a worst-case scenario of 30
      candles burned for 4 hours in a 50 m 3 room with approximately 0.7 L/min air flow. Fine et al.
      (1999) also performed a series of emission tests on the combustion of paraffin and beeswax candles
      burned in an air chamber with a volume of approximately 0.64 m 3 and an air flow rate
      of 100 L/min. Results of the studies are presented below and in Table 6 (Table 6 currently
      unavailable at KSL.Com)


      Acetaldehyde levels for 30 candles burned in an enclosed room for 3 hours were modeled at
      0.834 g/m 3 (Lau et al., 1997); this is above the EPAs 10 -6 excess cancer risk level 6 of 0.5
      g/m 3 , but below the EPA inhalation reference concentration (RfC)7 of 9 g/m 3 .


      Formaldehyde levels were measured at 0.190 g/m 3 (Lau et al., 1997) and 17 g/m 3 (Schwind
      and Hosseinpour, 1994). Again, these measurements were above the EPAs 10 -6 excess cancer
      risk level of 0.08 g/m 3 , but below the OSHA PEL maximum of 921.1 g/m 3 . Formaldehyde
      levels for both studies were far below OSHAs STEL 8 maximum of 2,456.1 g/m 3 .


      Maximum concentrations of acrolein were measured at 0.073 g/m 3 (Lau et al., 1997) and <1
      g/m 3 (Schwind and Hosseinpour, 1994). These levels are above the RfC of 0.02 g/m 3 and
      below the PEL of 250 g/m 3 . A cigarette burned in a similar environment produces acrolein
      levels of 23 g/m 3 (Lau et al., 1997).

      Polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins/Polychlorodibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF)

      Levels of PCDD/PCDF were measured at 0.038 pg I-TEQ/m 3 (Schwind and Hosseinpour,
      1994). The TEQ is the toxic equivalency method used to evaluate dioxins. It represents the sum
      of the concentrations of the multiple dioxin congeners "adjusted" to account for the toxicity of
      each congener relative to the most toxic dioxin, 2,3,7,8-TCDD.

      Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

      The amount of PAHs measured in candle emissions and soot differs between studies. Fine et al.
      (1999) found that no significant levels of PAHs were detected in the emissions from normal
      burning and smoldering candles. In contrast, Huynh et al. (1991) found that soot from wax-light
      church candles contained measurable concentrations of PAHs: the study measured 882 g
      benzo[ghi]perylene per gram of candle soot and 163 g benzo[a]pyrene per gram of candle soot.

      However, Huynh et al. did not measure PAH concentrations from candles in air. Wallace
      (2000) also concluded that a citronella candle was a source of PAHs in a study of real-time
      monitoring of PAHs in an occupied townhouse, but did not quantify the concentration or
      emission rate.

      Concentrations of benzo[a]pyrene in air due to candle emissions can measure 0.002 g/m 3 (Lau
      et al., 1997). This is below the PEL value of 200 g/m 3 . Naphthalene maximum concentration

      Candle Soot

      Black Soot Deposition (BSD) is also referred to as ghosting, carbon tracking, carbon tracing,
      and dirty house syndrome. Complaints of BSD have risen significantly since 1992 (Krause,

      Black soot is the product of the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels. Complete
      combustion would result in a blue flame, and would produce negligible amounts of soot and
      carbon monoxide. Until recently, the source for the black soot in homes was unknown.

      Through interviews and recent experiments, it is now believed that frequent candle burning is
      one of the sources of black soot. The amount of soot produced can vary greatly from candle to
      candle. One type of candle can produce as much as 100 times more soot than another type
      (Krause, 1999). For example, elemental carbon emission rates varied from less than 40 to 3,370 g/g
      candle burned in a study of sooting behavior in candles (Fine et al., 1999). The type of soot may
      also vary; though primarily composed of elemental carbon, candle soot may include phthalates,
      lead, and volatiles such as benzene and toluene (Krause, 1999).

      Scented candles are the major source of candle soot deposition. Most candle wax paraffins are
      saturated hydrocarbons that are solid at room temperature. Most fragrance oils are unsaturated
      hydrocarbons and are liquid at room temperature. The lower the carbon-to-hydrogen ratio, the
      less soot is produced by the flame. Therefore, waxes that have more fragrances in them produce
      more soot. In other words, candles labeled super scented and those that are soft to the touch
      are more likely to generate soot.

      The situation in which a candle is burned can also impact its sooting potential. A small and
      stable flame has a lower emission rate than a larger flickering flame with visible black particle
      emissions (Vigil, 1998).
      A forced air flow around the flame can also cause sporadic sooting
      behavior (Fine et al., 1999). Thus, candles in glass containers produce more soot because the
      container causes unsteady air flow and disturbs the flame shape (Stephen et al., 2000). Candles
      that are extinguished by oxygen deprivation, or blowing out the candle, produce more soot than
      those extinguished by cutting off the tip of the wick. Cutting the wick eliminates the emissions
      produced by a smoldering candle (Stephen et al., 2000).

      When soot builds up in air, it eventually deposits onto surfaces due to one of four factors. First,
      the particle may randomly collide with a surface. Second, soot particles can be circulated by
      passing through home air-conditioning filters. Third, soot can gain enough mass to become
      subject to gravity. Homes with BSD often have carpets stained from soot deposition (Vigil,
      1998). Finally, the particles are attracted to electrically charged surfaces such as freezers,
      vertical plastic blinds, television sets, and computers (Krause, 1999).

      When soot is airborne, it is subject to inhalation. The particles can potentially penetrate the
      deepest areas of the lungs, the lower respiratory tract and alveoli (Krause, 1999). ERG did not
      find research literature on the health effects of residential exposure to candle soot.


      Candles with lead wicks have the potential to generate indoor airborne lead concentrations of
      health concern. It is also possible for consumers to unknowingly purchase candles containing
      lead wick cores and repeatedly expose themselves to harmful amounts of lead through regular

      Lead wicks aside, consumers are also exposed to concentrations of organic chemicals in candle
      emissions. The European Candle Association (1997) and Schwind and Hosseinpour (1994)
      conclude that there is no health hazard associated with candle burning even when a worst-case
      scenario of 30 candles burning for 4 hours in a 50 m 3 room is assumed. However, burning
      several candles exceeded the EPAs 10 -6 increased risk for cancer for acetaldehyde and
      formaldehyde, and exceeded the RfC for acrolein.
      Once again, the RfC and EPAs 10 -6
      increased cancer risk guidelines are not designed specifically for indoor air quality issues, so
      these conclusions are subject to interpretation.

      Consumers may also not be aware that the regular burning of candles may result in BSD,
      causing damage to their homes. Sooting can be reduced by keeping candle wicks short, drafts to
      a minimum, and burning unscented candles.

      Additional research may want to focus on gaps in the literature, such as emissions from scented
      and multi-colored candles, and maximum concentrations of organics in air produced by sooting

      I am going to forget about burning candles for light if the power goes out.. I am going to go buy a couple more solar powered lanterns today. They are a good deal, no pollutants, and cost just $26 at Walmart. They are also sold on Ebay and in the internet by various companies. Mine shines all night long and I don't have to worry about fires from flickering flames.

      Last week the candle factory burned down. Everyone just stood around and sang Happy Birthday.
      ~ Steven Wright ~


      • #4

        All my candles are the LED battery operated kind. (The really cool ones you turn on and off by blowing on them!) They flicker very realistically and the outside is coated with wax.


        • #5

          LEAD Action News Volume 7 No 4
          The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc. 1999-2000 ISSN 1324-6011
          Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)

          Banned: Leaded Wick Candles

          Australian world first with ban on candles that can cause lead poisoning
          A fact sheet by The LEAD Group Incorporated, Sydney, Australia

          What is the problem with candles?

          Not all candles pose a risk of lead poisoning most candles do not have a metal thread running up the centre of the wick. But all the candles with metal core wicks that have been tested have been found to contain some lead and are therefore banned in Australia as of the 1st September 1999. Not all metal cores are made of pure lead; some are lead and tin and some are mostly zinc. Some candles imported into Australia from China and Taiwan have been tested and found to have wicks containing a core with more than 95% lead in the wick.

          What is the health risk?

          When candles with more than 95% lead in the wick are burnt they emit 500 1000 micrograms of lead per hour. Over one year, to 1 micrograms of lead per cubic metre of air is regarded as the maximum level a child or adult should be exposed to. Long term use of these candles would contaminate carpets and soft furnishings in the house with fine particles of lead. In the short-term, high exposure risks are via inhalation. Dust wipes after several months of burning lead core wick candles in a room in Texas contained 40 mg per square foot, many times the acceptable level for a room to be regarded as safe for young children. These candles are not safe to burn!!!

          Young children and unborn babies are particularly at risk. Even small quantities of lead are capable of causing I.Q. loss and learning difficulties and behaviour problems. Pregnant women need to be especially wary of their lead exposure: the placenta offers no barrier to lead and it can result in miscarriage and damage to the foetus developing brain and nervous system. Burning lead core wick candles poses a serious risk as these candles give off lead fumes in amounts that far exceed safe levels. Candles with more than 95% lead in the wick could conceivably cause severe lead poisoning (potentially death) when more than 3 candles were burnt in a small poorly ventilated room for more than 6 hours per day on an ongoing basis.

          How do I tell if the wicks in my candles have a metal core?

          Candles which potentially have a lead wick core can only be confirmed by laboratory testing but any metal wick core is very likely to contain some lead. You can tell if there is a metal core inside the fabric sheath of the wick by looking for a darkish line in the white wick or by poking through the outer sheath with a sharp needle to reveal the metal. The metal is very fine. If the wick has already been burnt, poking with a needle you might still be able to "feel" the metal filament or you may be able to turn the candle upside-down and inspect the wick from the base of the candle.

          What do the metal core wick candles look like?

          Metal-wick core candles come in all sizes, shapes and colours, (see photo for examples). The only reliable way to identify them is to examine the wick for a metal core and have it confirmed by laboratory testing.

          Candles having metal wick cores of Pb, Pb:Sn alloy and Zn
          L e a d S e n s e - PO Box 3421 - Rundle Mall SA 5000 - Australia

          Where do the candles and wicks come from and where are they sold in Australia?

          The metal core wick candles already tested originate from the US, China and Taiwan. As more candles are tested the country list may increase. The metal core wick candles are generally cheap and have previously been available in shops with a name that denotes bargains or reject goods, though they have also been purchased in a large chain store and quality homeware shops. They have been readily available so people who are likely to purchase cheap candles are the most likely to be affected. (The candle purchased at one homeware store was $29.95 so not all these candles are cheap. The US candles with lead core wicks cost as much as US$18.95 - also not cheap!). If you find a candle with a metal core wick, the chances are it does contain lead. We advise that you buy the candle(s), keep the receipt (for evidence) and notify your state or territory department of fair trading / consumer affairs as there has been a federal ban on the supply of these candles from the 1/9/1999 which prevents their supply in the NT, and a ban on their supply in NSW (since 10/9/99), Queensland (since 17/9/99), Victoria (since 11/11/99) and ACT and Tasmania (both announced on 20/10/99 and gazetted soon after). A banning order was signed in WA on 17/12/99 and will soon be gazetted. There is a ban on the supply and manufacture of candles or wicks containing lead in SA (since 23/9/99).

          How many candles are we talking about?

          The estimated range in number of possible lead wick core or lead/tin wick core candles imported into Australia in F Y 1998-9 alone, is 615,600 candles up to 6,412,500 candles.

          What should I do if I have bought a candle with a metal core and I suspect it contains lead?

          You could return the candle to the shop you purchased it from and ask for a refund or an exchange, pointing out to the retailer that supply of the product is in breach of a Federal and/or State ban. The right thing for the retailer to do would be to offer a refund or an exchange of the product, although he/she is under no legal obligation to do so, as there has been no recall of the product.

          Can I sue the retailer for supplying a prohibited product?

          Yes, in the States where the prohibition order has been gazetted, you could elect to instigate legal proceedings in the Fair Trading Tribunal in NSW or its equivalent in other States. You should then keep the proof of purchase, ie the docket with the date of purchase, and the retailers name. Evidence of the presence of lead in the candle wick should be provided. An analytical report of the lead content of the wick of the candle should be obtained. It is also important that a continuous chain of custody of the candle be shown, with the candle being kept in a safe place and a statement signed by the laboratory which analysed the candle, stating that they have removed the wick from that particular candle and that analysis showed it to contain lead. Any quantity of lead in the wick of the candle makes it a prohibited product.

          Instigating legal proceeding myself could be costly, is there any other way I can ensure the enforcement of the prohibition on candles containing lead?

          Yes, you can decide to lodge a complaint with your State department responsible for fair trading/ consumer affairs (in NSW it is the Department of Fair Trading). The process is simple. Just obtain a complaint form from your department; complete the required details on the place and date of purchase, and the nature of the complaint. The department will then investigate the matter and decide whether to prosecute the retailer for breach of the prohibition order.

          What do I do next if Ive been burning metal core wick candles?

          First, stop using the candles. Second, have a blood lead test. This is the only way to tell if youve been lead poisoned by the candles. Your GP can either take the blood and send it to a lab or send you to a pathologist for this. If you hate blood tests, wear an anaesthetic band-aid over the vein on the inside of your arm at the elbow (eg EMLA Patch, available over the counter from the chemist) for at least one hour before the blood is taken. Wear an extra layer of clothing than you normally would for the weather on the day, and have plenty to eat and drink before the test. The result may take 1 2 weeks to come back. If the result is higher than 10 micrograms/decilitre (or 0.48 micromoles per litre) then call the Lead Advisory Service Australia on 1800 626 086 or your local Public Health Unit if the result is above 15 micrograms/decilitre (or 0.72 micromoles per litre) - the level for notification in NSW and Queensland. The home may need to be investigated for lead sources if blood test results exceed these levels. You may need hospital admission for lead poisoning (even if you currently show no symptoms) if your blood lead level is excessive.

          Acknowledgments: thanks go to Mike van Alphen of Lead Sense in Adelaide for testing design and the laboratory analysis and for bringing this important issue to the attention of The LEAD Group. Mike van Alphen is now on the Technical Advisory Board of The LEAD Group Inc and kindly reviewed this fact sheet.

          Thanks also to other Technical Advisory Board members who assisted in the review of the information in this fact sheet: -

          Assoc Prof Chris Winder
          Prof Brian Gulson
          Prof Grahame Vimpani
          Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
          Contents Next Item

          The LEAD Group Inc. Fact Sheet Index

          When Thomas Edison worked late into the night on the electric light, he had to do it by gas lamp or candle.
          I'm sure it made the work seem that much more urgent.
          ~ George Carlin ~


          • #6
            Re: CANDLES - EPA WARNING

            Candle Soot

            by Annie Berthold-Bond

            Many are finding to their horror that some aromatherapy candles are producing a very tenacious black soot.

            SIMPLE SOLUTION:
            Unfortunately, an emerging air quality problem is soot from candles. The major culprits are scented and aromatherapy candles. Experts report that computers have been ruined, and in some instances there is so much soot generated from burning candles that it is causing severe damage to many homes and furnishings, and homeowners are mistakenly suing their builders, furnace and H/VAC companies for improper installation of the systems.

            Unfortunately, soot from candles can also be toxic. Breathing soot is not recommended at all. The soot particles can travel deep into the lungs. Those with asthma, lung or heart disease are particularly vulnerable. To make matters worse, many scented and aromatherapy candles are made with paraffin and synthetic fragrance oils. Paraffin is a petroleum product - a byproduct of oil refining - and most fragrance oils used for candle making are petroleum-based synthetics. The soot from these materials can contain carcinogens, neurotoxins and reproductive toxins. Testing and air chamber analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency has found the following compounds in a random group of over 30 candles tested.

            • Acetone
            • Benzene
            • Trichlorofluoromethane
            • Carbon disulfide
            • 2- Butanone
            • 1, 1, 1-Trichloroethane
            • Carbon tetrachloride
            • Carbon Black (soot) Particulate Matter <2.5 microns
            • Trichloroethene
            • Tetrachloroethene
            • Toluene
            • Chlorobenzene
            • Ethylbenzene
            • Styrene
            • Xylene
            • Phenol
            • Cresol
            • Cyclopentene
            • Lead
            • Lead (Inorganic Airborne Contaminant)
            Besides these chemicals, Kaiss K. Al-Ahmady, Ph.D., P.E., of Indoor Air Solutions, Inc. of Tampa Florida, found in testing of over 20 candles, that 30 percent of the metal wire wicks used in some candles can contained lead.

            The reason scented and aromatherapy candles are the usual culprits is because the fragrance oils are unsaturated hydrocarbons and they soften the wax so that it doesn't burn cleanly. Container candles are even worse since the oxygen necessary for a clean burn doesn't reach the flame properly.

            Buy instead unscented candles made without petroleum, with wire-free wicks. Diffusers are a safer way to practice aromatherapy, and they are available in most health food stores.



            • #7
              Re: CANDLES - EPA WARNING

              Many people during a disaster will not have solar powered lights or battery operated flashlights and will have to resort to candles or various oil lamps and lanterns for light.
              Here is a group of people dedicated to old forms of lighting. And they are having a few get-togethers this fall. It would be interesting to attend these functions:

              Rushlight Club Purpose

              To shed light on the lights of the past

              The Rushlight Club, founded in 1932 for the study and preservation of LIGHTING, is one of the oldest organizations dedicated to a single aspect of material culture. The collecting and researching interests of members range from the earliest primitive lighting devices through lighting by gas and electricity.

              The purpose of the Club as set forth by its founders, and which remains unchanged today, is to stimulate an interest in the study of early lighting including the use of early lighting devices and lighting fuels, and the origins and development of each, by means of written articles, lectures, exhibitions from private collections and if desired, through the medium of exchange, and its object shall be to collect, preserve and disseminate information and data obtained through these studies.

              The Rushlight Club, Inc. was incorporated in 1989 as an international, educational, non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

              Written articles on research of the history, development and application of lighting, lighting fuels and accessories are published in the Clubs quarterly historical journal, The Rushlight.

              Information on lighting lectures, conferences, exhibitions from private collections and regular meetings is published in the Clubs quarterly newsletter, Flickerings

              The Rushlight and Flickerings are available by membership in the Rushlight Club.

              New Members
              Application for membership in the Rushlight Club can be requested from:



              • #8
                Re: CANDLES - EPA WARNING

                Candle Safety Tips

                provided courtesy of the National Candle Association

                Candles are safe products, buy may become hazardous when used improperly or in an unsafe manner. National fire safety agencies report that the bulk of candle fire incidents in the United States are due to consumer inattention to basic fire safety or to the misuse of candles. The National Candle Association recommends the following safety tips when burning candles:
                • Always keep a burning candle with sight. Extinguish all candles when leave a room or before going to sleep.

                • Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.

                • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets, Do not place lighted candles where they can be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.

                • Read and carefully follow all manufacturer instructions.

                • Trim candlewicks to 1/4 inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks cause uneven burning and dripping.

                • Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax. Be sure the candleholder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface.

                • Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents and air currents. This will help prevent rapid, uneven burning, smoking and excessive dripping. Drafts can also blow lightweight curtains or papers into the flame where they could catch fire. Ceiling fans can cause drafts.

                • Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.

                • Do not burn a candle for longer than the manufacturer recommends.

                • Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room.

                • Extinguish the flame it it comes too closed to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inched of wa remains (1/2 inch if in a container). This will also help prevent possible heat damage to the counter/surface and prevent glass containers from cracking or breaking.

                • Never touch or move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquid.

                • Extinguish pillar candles if the wax pool approaches the outer edge.

                • Candles should be placed at least three inches apart from one another. This is to be sure they don't melt one another, or create their own drafts that will cause the candles to burn improperly.

                • One of the safest ways to extinguish a candle is to use a candle snuffer, which helps prevent hot wax from spattering. Do not extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to spatter and can cause glass containers to break.

                • Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are much safer light sources than candles during a power failure.

                • Never use a candle as light when you go into a closet to look for things.

                • Never use a candle for light when fueling equipment such as a lantern or kerosene heater.


                If it weren't for electricity we'd all be watching television by candlelight.
                - George Gobel -


                • #9
                  Re: CANDLES - EPA WARNING

                  Thanks Jonesie for this series on candles.
                  "May the long time sun
                  Shine upon you,
                  All love surround you,
                  And the pure light within you
                  Guide your way on."

                  "Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, lies your calling."

                  In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
                  Mohandas Gandhi

                  Be the light that is within.