Do Yankee Candles Have Toxins?

A Yankee Candle store; Copyright Photoexpress at Dreamstime.com.

A lot of people are concerned whether there might be toxins in the candles they burn in their homes. Yankee Candles are extremely popular due to their high quality ingredients, bright colors and strong scents, so they tend to receive the lion's share of attention. At this time, there's no legal requirement for candle makers to reveal their ingredients and no reason to believe Yankee's products contain toxins. The company does offer their customers some reassurance about their products through the Yankee Candles website.

Concerns About Toxins in Yankee Candles

In recent years, the media has been buzzing with reports of harmful toxins in all kinds of household products, including scented candles. The culprits, they claim, are paraffin wax, burning fragrance oils, and leaded wicks. To get a better idea whether or not consumers should be concerned about the possibility of toxins being released when they burn a Yankee Candle, it's helpful to compare information presented by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Candle Association and the Yankee Candle Company itself.

Environmental Protection Agency Info

According to a 1999 report compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency on Candles and Incense as Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution:

  • Burning candles with wicks that contain lead cores can lead to indoor air concentrations of lead that exceed EPA-recommended limits.
  • Page 30 of that report states that the sooty residue left after burning some candles may also contain toxins, including benzene and toluene. Benzene has been identified as a cancer-causing agent, while breathing toluene affects the central nervous system and can cause headaches and drowsiness.
  • Scented candles tend to produce more soot than unscented candles. (A consumer might conclude that an increased amount of soot could also lead to an increased amount of toxins in that soot.)

The conclusions reached in the report were based on candle studies conducted in the U.S. and around the globe. The report does not single out Yankee or any particular manufacturer as a producer of toxic candles, but it does mention that most U.S. candle companies no longer use lead wicks in their products.

Yankee Candles Info

Yankee Candle Company does not provide complete ingredient lists for their candles, and they are not legally required to do so at this time. However, the company does offer some basic information about their candles, some of which may set some consumer's minds more at ease.

According to the company:

  • They do not use lead wicks.
  • All of their wicks are made from pure cotton and are thus completely safe.
  • They use fragrance extracts and real essential oils to scent their candles.
  • A direct call to the company confirmed that Yankee uses refined paraffin wax in their candles.

National Candle Association Info

The National Candle Association (NCA) is an organization dedicated to monitoring the U.S. candle making industry. They claim that more than 90 percent of U.S. candle manufacturers are members of the association, and Yankee Candle is listed among their members.

According to info posted on the NCA website:

  • Refined paraffin wax is non-toxic and is actually approved by the USDA for use in food products, as well as cosmetics and some medical applications.
  • The soot produced from burning a candle is similar to soot produced by a kitchen toaster. It's mainly composed of carbon and is not considered a health risk, unlike the soot produced from burning coal.
  • Lead wicks were banned in 2003, although NCA members voluntarily agreed not to use lead wicks back in 1974. NCA members must sign a pledge stating they won't use lead wicks.
  • Some natural scent ingredients can be extremely toxic to people, but NCA members are committed to using only ingredients that are approved safe for use in candles.
  • There's always a possibility that the ingredients in a particular candle might cause an allergic reaction in an individual or trigger an asthma attack in a person who suffers from that condition.

How to Reduce Candle Toxins

If you're concerned about scented candles and the possibility of toxins, there are ways to reduce soot and improve air quality in your home without completely giving up your candles.

  • Only burn one candle at a time.
  • Make sure your wick is trimmed each time you light your candle.
  • Do not burn any candle for more than three or four hours at a time.
  • Try using a candle warmer rather than lighting a wick.
  • Use a cover or lid, or store new or cooled candles in airtight containers to keep them free of dust and other airborne particles.
  • Only buy good quality candles made in North America, Central Europe, or Australia. Cheap, poor quality candles could potentially have lead wicks, low quality wax, and synthetic colors and fragrances.

Also keep in mind that soy candles are not petroleum-based and create much less soot than their paraffin counterparts. Candles made from 100 percent natural beeswax are toxin-free.

Decide the Level of Risk for Yourself

Since candle companies aren't required to list the exact ingredients used in their products, it's impossible to know for sure whether there are any toxins present in a Yankee Candle, but there is no reason to believe the candles are toxic. It is good news that their candle wicks are made from cotton and contain no lead, and that the paraffin wax is refined to remove impurities. The company also appears to be following the standards set by the National Candle Association. Unless a definitive study is ever conducted directly on Yankee Candles, it will be up to consumers to look at the facts that are known and decide for themselves about the safety of the candles.

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Do Yankee Candles Have Toxins?