Many people enjoy lighting a candle in order to create a calming, relaxing or even romantic mood. Candles are also an important part of many holiday celebrations, birthday parties and other special events. You might be surprised to learn that candles can have an impact on the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your home in Amherst, NY. Read on to learn about four ways candles affect your home’s IAQ.
1. Increase in Particulate Matter
Most candles are made from paraffin. Paraffin candles are available in both gel and wax forms. They’re inexpensive and easy to impregnate with pretty colors and scents, which makes them a popular choice for candles. This material is a petroleum product. When it’s burned, it creates soot particles. Those lightweight particles spread throughout your home. They float on the gentle air currents created by your heating and air conditioning system. The opening of windows and doors and the movement of people through your home also create air currents that distribute the soot particles. These soot particles land on every surface. When you breathe the soot particles, they can get lodged into your lungs. If you’re exposed to these particles on a long-term basis, the exposure could lead to chronic breathing problems.
2. Buildup in HVAC Filters
The soot particles created by burning paraffin candles can quickly clog your heating and cooling system’s air filter. The soot particles are large in comparison to the other particles that affect your home’s indoor air quality. Even if your air filter has a low minimum efficiency reported value (MERV) rating, it will trap these particles. If you’re burning a candle every day, your air filter could get clogged with the debris in a matter of weeks. If you keep using your heating and cooling system with a clogged air filter, its ability to remove particles from your home’s air will drastically decrease. This will result in poor indoor air quality. Your home’s air quality could be five times worse than the air quality outdoors.
3. Emission of Volatile Organic Compounds
Burning paraffin candles increases the amount of volatile organic compounds in your home. Some of these compounds are known to cause cancer in humans and animals. When you burn a paraffin candle, it may release benzene, toluene, acrolein, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde into the air. Regular exposure to these chemicals increases your risk of developing cancer. On a short-term basis, exposure to these volatile organic chemicals may cause you to develop watery eyes, irritation of your eyes, nose and throat, itchy skin, sinus and nasal congestion, headaches and skin irritations. If you have allergies or asthma, your breathing may worsen when exposed to these chemicals.
4. More Smoke
Paraffin candles and their wicks create a lot of smoke. Smoke is a mixture of airborne particles and gases. It occurs when petroleum and organic products go through the combustion process. Not all of the materials are completely consumed, however. Incomplete combustion releases a variety of toxins into your home’s air. These toxins include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and more. These chemicals can damage your lungs. They may also make changes to your DNA, which increases your risk of cancer. Smoke discolors items in your home. Removing the stains usually requires the use of additional chemicals that can impact your home’s indoor air quality. When smoke particles are disturbed, they become airborne once again. The cleanup of these particles can trigger an immediate constriction of your airways. You may experience coughing, sneezing and a sore throat when cleaning up the smoke left behind from candles.
Candles That Are Safer for Indoor Air Quality
If you still want to enjoy candles, but you also want to protect your home’s indoor air quality, there are two great options. The first is beeswax. A beeswax candle doesn’t release any toxins when you burn it. It emits a natural scent of honey. The second option is a soy candle. Soy burns at a low temperature, and it burns cleanly. Beeswax and soy candles cost a few dollars more than paraffin candles, but they’re a worthwhile investment in your health.
We’re proud to be the trusted provider of indoor air quality services in Amherst. We’re also available for heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair and installation services. Our ductless HVAC systems and water heaters add convenience and energy efficiency to your home. For additional information on how candles impact your home’s air quality, reach out to us at Heatwave Heating & Cooling today.