Keeping Loved Ones Safe – Can Scented Candles Trigger Asthma?

burning wax candles

Source: New Africa/

Candles offer a lovely decor in our homes. But for loved ones and guests with a respiratory condition, the scents can be dangerous.

Can scented candles trigger asthma? Of course. But don’t fret! There are other ways to enjoy a fragrant home. Homesick offers a few alternatives (hint: reed diffusers) while explaining what makes them safe.

How Can Scented Candles Trigger Asthma?

Paraffin wax is a crude oil byproduct that, when burned, releases harmful chemicals (specifically toluene and benzene). And these chemicals have been linked to asthma and lung cancer. Furthermore, when you light paraffin candles in an unventilated space, it can lead to irritation of the respiratory tract as well as the skin. Paraffin wax is also more likely to produce soot, which many people find irritating as well as unsightly.

Safe Scent Alternatives

beach cottage incense

Can scented candles trigger asthma? The short answer is yes. However, each person is different and the degree of respiratory conditions can vary. The good news is if you tend to have severe reactions to scents as a whole or are triggered by smoke, there are safer alternatives. Learn more and take a look! 

Reed Diffusers

To protect those who suffer from asthma, use a reed diffuser instead! Unlike standard candles, these handy aromatic devices offer a flameless design, sans wick, which guarantees a home free of smoke. 

Check out Homesick’s beach oil diffuser which offers a hand-crafted essential oil blend with bergamot and sandalwood top notes and base notes of sea air and amber. Like walking on the beach for some fresh air, you can breathe comfortably and freely with a light and breezy reed diffuser. 

Keep Loved Ones Safe and Use a Reed Diffuser

Natural, Non-toxic Candles

If you have asthma issues but still prefer the glowing flame of a candle, you still have options! 

Use a safer, more natural candle wax and wick. While most candles are oil-based, you can find more non-toxic alternatives such as soy wax and beeswax, which are kinder to your lungs and minimize your home’s indoor air pollution. In particular, a natural soy wax blend that doesn’t emit petrol-carbon soot, like that filled inside a Homesick candle jar, burns much cleaner. Plus, soy is both renewable and biodegradable, making it a green-friendly resource. 

Aside from a clean-burning wax, you should also ensure the wick is natural. Most candles come with cotton wicks, which seems safe enough. However, the cotton used is often non-organic, which means it has been doused in pesticides before harvest. Not to mention, the wicks are often bleached using dioxides to achieve a pure white hue. Good thing Homesick candles use only organic premium cotton wicks. 

As a whole, Homesick candles and reed diffusers are entirely non-toxic and contain no lead, parabens, synthetic dyes or phthalates. Plus, they come in an attractive recyclable glass container (instead of a wasteful single-use plastic).

Oil Diffusers

Similar to a reed diffuser, an oil diffuser makes a wonderful alternative that may prevent asthma attacks. In fact, there are many oil diffuser benefits, some of which can actually help your respiratory system by improving your home’s indoor air quality, combating spring allergies or winter dryness. 

When using an oil diffuser for the first time–or a new essential oil–run it sparingly and for a short time, monitoring your breathing and any adverse reactions. Fragrances can cause a different allergic reaction in different folks, so be mindful and use the essential oil drops as directed.

Learn All of the Oil Diffuser Benefits in Our Guide

Extra Clean Air Tips for Scented Candles

southern california candle

Wherever you got your candle, here are some extra tips to keep it burning as clean as possible:

  • As a general rule of thumb, avoid multiple wick candles. Although they are interesting to look at, a three-wick candle burns unevenly.
  • Avoid candles with thick wicks, especially ones with a wire core. Wicks with metal often contain lead.

For some, scented candles can trigger asthma, it’s true. So make sure to take precautions around your loved ones who suffer from respiratory illness and asthma attacks. Even if you are not asthmatic, a strongly scented candle with non-organic ingredients may trigger other reactions like headaches or an allergic reaction. 

Ultimately, listen to your body and, if in doubt, use a less-aggressive scent, reed diffuser or even an oil diffuser. Even with asthma, you can create a pleasant-smelling home.