Fall is here and candle lovers around the world are stocking up on their favorite candles to make their homes nice and cozy.
Candles can be soothing and can help elevate the mood of your home, but there are some things to keep in mind.
Medical professionals say that in their experience, candles and their negative health effects are overestimated. In general, most people have no problems and can enjoy the atmosphere.
They say the biggest threat is the risk of fire, which can cause burns and even death.
“If you’re thinking about the holidays, consider lighting candles near a dry Christmas tree or curtains,” says Dr. Taryn Travis, a burn surgeon at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “They certainly happen every year.”
Learn more about how candles can affect your health below.
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Can candles cause respiratory problems?
Dr. Andrew Stiehm is a pulmonologist in St. Paul, Minn., affiliated with multiple Allina Health hospitals.
He said that candles generally do not have a “significant impact” on most people, and that “concerns may be greatly exaggerated by some in the industry.”
She said there are three parts to a candle that can pose health concerns: the wick, the dye or paint, and the candle’s ingredients.
Some cores contain lead. When lead is burned, it can cause lead poisoning or lead toxicity. In the United States, candle manufacturers have stopped making candles with lead wicks due to this concern.
“It is still possible to purchase candles from other countries that may have lead wicks,” Steem said.
paints and dyes The substances used in their manufacture may be carcinogens or carcinogenic chemicals.
“These are very small amounts of chemicals and have nothing to do with cancer concerns or significant research, but they can be used in people who are very wary of cancer risk or whose cancer is in remission. There may be.”
What’s inside the candle That in itself could be a cause for concern for some, he said.
“There are concerns that paraffin releases more formaldehyde than other candles. Some people may also want to err on the side of caution and avoid candles with high paraffin content and use more natural ingredients instead. “Maybe,” he said.
Some people are allergic to scents emitted by candles, whether natural or artificial.
“There could be a natural pumpkin scent or an artificial pumpkin scent,” he said. “You may be allergic to one and not the other…let experience be your guide.”
Candles can lead to fires and injuries, burn surgeon says
Travis, of MedStar Washington Hospital Center, said loose clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, skirts and dresses can catch fire when people walk on them. It can also happen on the stove.
Doctors say they also see problems like this during religious holidays, where candles are an essential part of the celebration.
“If clothing catches fire, the heat can be transferred quickly to the skin, making it difficult for people, especially the elderly and people with disabilities, to remove their clothing,” Travis said.
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Another common item that can be harmful when combined with candles is aerosolized sprays.
Spraying air fresheners near candles is not recommended as they often contain alcohol, which is highly flammable.
Travis said the aerosolized material can ignite candles and other open flames and cause house fires.
Nail remover + candle = dangerous combination
At least once a year, Travis sees a patient who had planned a nice, relaxing spa day at home, but ends up in the emergency room.
They gathered their nail polish supplies, poured some wine, lit a candle, and suddenly a huge flame erupted.
“Many nail treatment products are highly flammable and even placing them near a candle has often caused completely catastrophic injuries in our burn center,” she said.
From there, clothing, hair and accessories could catch fire, causing “catastrophic and disfiguring injuries,” she said. “The people who do this most often are young women in their 20s who are having a fun weekend or just relaxing at home day and night. Their lives have changed forever.”
It’s easy to forget these things, she says, adding that she recently had to be careful not to light candles near her husband while getting her nails done at home.
What types of burns can candles cause?
Travis said there are generally levels of burns that people receive.
- First-degree burns – Basically, this is a red, dry, and extremely painful sunburn that can be treated with pain control and moisturizers.
- Third-degree burns – Full-thickness burns of the skin that often require surgery and hospitalization.
- Second-degree burns – All burns between first- and third-degree burns (some may be blistering and painful, but can be managed with intensive wound care)
Third-degree burns are the deepest type of burns a person can sustain, Travis said. In most cases, surgery will be required.
Surgery used to treat burns includes skin grafts and several days in the hospital.
“And in the long term, you’re talking about a series of things that patients have to deal with, sometimes for the rest of their lives,” Travis said. “After any type of burn that is not superficial, there is a significant amount of scarring.”
At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, doctors focus on scar reconstruction and may also use laser surgery to treat injuries.
She said there are also rehabilitation treatments available to patients.
“Depending on the location of the burn, if it’s on or near a joint, such as an elbow or shoulder, it can have significant functional consequences for the rest of the patient’s life,” she said. , added that it can be difficult to move. We are doing the normal activities we were able to do before.
“This may be a momentary event that hurts people, but it will change the course of their lives forever,” Travis said.
Are some candles safer than others?
Experts say it’s still possible to enjoy candles without risk, thanks to products such as LED candles.
Travis said the flameless candles are designed to look like the real thing, but are instead made of plastic and other materials, which he said are “very life-like.” Some have fake wicks and fabric that flows, dances, or looks like flames.
They are often used to jazz up restaurants, she said.
Although the product does not contain fragrance like real candles, candle lovers can always get air fresheners that create that effect.
“For those who aren’t interested, the next suggestion would be to put the candles in an enclosure,” she says, adding that the candles can also be placed in a glass case.
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What should I do if my candle catches fire?
Travis said there are a few things people should keep in mind in case a fire starts from a candle in their home.
She says it’s important to have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
Next time you go to the store, bring a fire extinguisher and make sure you know how to use it, she said.
“If a fire gets out of control, the best course of action is to get out of harm’s way and evacuate safely,” she said. “The old thing we were taught as kids, ‘Stop, drop, roll,’ is still so important today. We want to put out the flame itself, not run around. It feeds the flame.” Because it means giving.”
And once you’re out of danger, go to a burn center if you have more than a quarter burn, she said.
“I feel very strongly that we cannot handle any burns,” she said.
Allina Health’s Stiehm emphasizes that the risk of fire is more of a concern and recommends storing candles in a well-ventilated area.
Make sure there are no overhangs and trim the wick to no more than a quarter inch, he said.
And again, he emphasized that there are no serious reports that candles have had a significant impact on respiratory health.
“We’re not seeing an increase in heart attacks or COPD attacks or any concerns along those lines,” he said. “For the average person, it’s not really something to worry about. Those who are susceptible…may want to treat it with a little more caution.”