Lesley Burton-Dallas is from Stratford, Ct. and works for Turtle Clan Environment Testing Lab. She has written a post about the toxins in burning candles. Thank you Lesley for allowing me to share your post with others.
In addition to cigarette smoking, candles provide another indoor pollution mechanism that is hard to replicate.
Most commercially sold candles are made from Paraffin (petroleum based) and emit toxins and carcinogens like benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein and soot into the air.
The ‘bargain' candles produced both here and overseas are even more dangerous.
We would not consider burning a diesel engine in our living room, but Paraffin candles emit many of these same dangerous particulates. Gel candles are also petroleum-based, and therefore just as polluting.
However, the only good options are made from either Soy
...or Beeswax http://www.candlebeefarm.com/
Of course, anything you burn will create smoke, but burning soy and beeswax does not emit those same toxic chemicals.
Real soy and beeswax candles should be clearly marked but exercise caution. Some manufacturers destroy the benefits of beeswax and soy by adding... you guessed it... petroleum-based Paraffin.
It is also important to buy candles with a cotton or paper wick. Shiny wire wicks can contain metals like zinc and lead.
One alternative to burning the high-polluting aromatic and scented candles
... is to create a ‘scented soup'.
Bring a few cups of water in a saucepan to a mild simmer, uncovered.
Or any other aromatic spice you particularly like. After an hour or so last night's fish dinner will be nothing more than a memory.
Breathe easy and enjoy life all you can.