'Toxic-free scented candles' How to recognise honest wellness products

Read time - 05 minutes

Toxic-free scented candles, sounds pretty straightforward right? Well, it is not that simple.

In the world of perfume, aromas and scented products there seems to be a common misconception about the definition of sustainability, health and organic. Even though consumers are better educated than ever and companies are being observed closely for greenwashing, the fragrance and scented candle industry still contain a lot of mystery. This makes it extremely difficult to know whether a product contains toxic ingredients, is truly natural and is created cruelty-free. Unfortunately, it still takes a very active stance from you, the consumer, to identify a healthy, sustainable and organic product. With these simple tools, we hope you will find it easier to discover whether a fragrance or scented candle is honest or you should stay away from.

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Before we jump into the practical tools you should understand why the fragrance industry and its products still create a lot of confusion. The problem starts with the complexity of the industry’s nature. Read the label on the back of one of your fragrances or scented candles and you will probably find a long list of difficult to pronounce chemical ingredients, to understand them you need a chemical engineering degree. Next to this, there is a term called “fragrance" or “perfume” which contains various substances that could be harmful to you. Leaving the consumer clueless about the actual implications for their specific body types and allergies. The reason companies are still allowed to use this masking term is to protect their fragrance secrets - and yes they have many.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the average fragrance contains about 14 unmentioned chemicals - of which several are linked to hormone disruption, allergic tendencies and even some that have not been tested for human safety. So, to prevent you from picking up a bottle of fragrance or scented candle and being dazed by the funky sounding chemical terms we will walk you through several steps to form a well-informed decision.

1. Read the label

The first tip is very simple, read the label. Several ingredients can easily be identified as non-toxic, think of soy wax, almonds, cotton, flowers, beeswax and so on. What their source and environmental impact are we’ll discuss in a later journal. The rule of thumb is, that whenever you are buying scented candles or fragrances, check whether the ingredient list contains the word ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’. When you find it without any further explanation, be very cautious. Companies can legally use over 400 ingredients to ‘protect’ their secret formulas. Plenty of these ingredients are toxic, harming the environment, its animals and you. Sometimes the product label highlights the ingredients next to the term fragrance which enables you to do some research. Do not worry, we will share a list of the most commonly used toxic ingredients. To be on the safe side, we recommend only buying fragranced products that use essential oils and herbs, and natural fragrances to create their scented products.

 2. Ingredients to avoid

When it comes to aromatic products such as scented candles, fragrances, diffusers and essential oils there is a common list of ingredients to keep away from. Governments try to improve the fragrance industry with laws to avoid the usage of toxic chemicals, however, they still exist hidden under the term ‘fragrance’ due to its masking nature. Be aware that the upcoming segment might be shocking given the effects these chemical fragrance ingredients have. However, when it comes to your health and well-being it is better to educate yourself and be safe than sorry. 

The effects of each chemical listed below have been proved based on a study, however, each body might respond differently and less or more intensely to each chemical.

A commonly used synthetic preservative, it interferes with the production and release of hormones. 

This popular preservative is usually highly concentrated in most commercial perfumes and fragrances. Caused damage to the liver/kidneys, birth defects, decreased sperm counts and early breast development in boys and girls.

Musk Ketone 
Synthetic musks mimic and displace natural hormones, which can potentially disrupt important endocrine and biological processes. High levels of musk ketone in women’s blood may also be associated with gynaecological abnormalities such as ovarian failure and infertility. Synthetic musks have also been linked to brain cell degeneration.

Benzyl Acetate
Benzyl acetate is a compound that has a sweet aroma, used to create aromas such as jasmine, apple and pear flavours. Known as a carcinogen, particularly causing pancreatic cancer.

This substance is a known narcotic, lung and eye irritant. It causes nausea, abdominal pain, and kidney damage.

Methylene Chloride
Increase the risk of developing cancer and damage to the central nervous system & liver, and causes skin or eye irritation. It’s also long been labelled as probably carcinogenic to humans. Governments banned this ingredient in perfumes however, many companies still hide this ingredient under the ingredient label “fragrance” due to the lack of transparency.

Causes dizziness, confusion, nausea, muscle twitching, and convulsions.

Known carcinogenic which causes cancer.

Can cause respiratory disturbances in animal studies, depression, and central nervous system disorders.

National Toxicology Program and the National Academy of Science, have declared styrene to be an anticipated human carcinogen”

Besides these ingredients, there are plenty more that are being used in fragrances which might cause you harm. Whenever you find an ingredient you are not sure whether it is harming or not, utilise Google and do some research.

3. Know your fragrance brand 

Did you find a fragrance or scented candle promoted as green, organic and locally sourced yet you remain unsure about the safety of the product? Follow the trail back to the brand that made the fragrance or scented candle. What does their website tell you? Usually, when companies make the effort to create a positive impact they are not too shy to talk about it. When a product is cruelty-free, locally and naturally sourced within the EU you should be able to find it mentioned somewhere. Look for this type of information in frequently asked questions or product and productions pages. If you can’t find any information on it you should generally avoid using the brand. When you are still not sure you can always head to their social media pages and reach out through a DM.

We understand this topic can be overwhelming and that should not require a full study to discover whether something you buy is harming you or not. That's why one of our core values is to keep our information simple and honest and hope other brands will follow suit. You have the power as a consumer to make a change by thinking consciously about what you buy. Especially when it comes to organic, toxic-free and sustainable products. Therefore we aim to educate you with simple, digestible and honest information about our products and their ingredients.

Moreover, if new research shows we have to change our ways, we will make sure to keep up with what we believe is the healthiest for all of us and you will be the first to know. 

Any questions about our products and production process? We are happy to answer them! Send an email to hello@hippashop.com or send us a message on our social media!