Are Woodwick Candles Toxic?

What Are Woodwick Candles?

Woodwick candles are a popular brand of scented candles that feature a patented wood wick design that crackles when lit. The company was founded in the United States in 1999 and is now part of The Yankee Candle Company.

The signature element of Woodwick candles is their wooden wicks, which are made from natural wood fibers. When the candle is lit, the wood wick crackles and pops, creating a pleasant fireside ambiance. According to the company, the wooden wicks also promote more even burning and less soot than regular cotton wicks.

In addition to their unique wicks, Woodwick candles come in a variety of sizes and scented options. Some of their most popular fragrances include Christmas Cookie, Fireside, Macintosh Apple, and Vanilla & Oakmoss. Woodwick offers jar candles, pillars, votives, tea lights, and reed diffusers in their signature fragrances. The company frequently releases new seasonal scents as well (The Most Popular Scent of Woodwick Candles: Ranking …).

Common Ingredients in Woodwick Candles

Woodwick candles contain a blend of ingredients that give them their unique look, scent, and crackling wooden wick. Some of the main ingredients include:

Paraffin Wax – Woodwick candles use a blend of paraffin wax and natural soy wax. Paraffin wax is a petroleum-based wax made from refining crude oil. It allows the candle to hold its shape and burn evenly.

woodwick candles use a blend of paraffin and soy waxes to provide an even, long burn.

Fragrance Oils – Woodwick candles are scented using synthetic fragrance oils, not essential oils. The specific fragrance oils they use are proprietary. Fragrance oils allow the scent to last longer than natural oils.

Dyes – Vibrant dyes are added to the wax to give Woodwick candles their range of colors. Common candle dyes include derivatives of oxide pigments.

Wicks – The signature wooden wicks in Woodwick candles have zinc or lead cores that produce the crackling sound. This helps the wick burn cleaner.

While these ingredients provide aesthetics and a customizable experience, some raise questions about potential toxicity which we’ll explore next.

Are the Candle Wicks Toxic?

The main concern with Woodwick candle wicks is whether they contain lead, which can be toxic when burned. Prior to 2003, many candle wicks were made with braided cotton that had lead cores. When burned, this lead could be released into the air.

Lead wicks have been banned in the United States since 2003 under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Now, most candle wicks are made from materials like zinc, paper, or cotton. According to Woodwick, their wicks are lead-free and made from natural fibers and wood.

Zinc core wicks may also release small amounts of zinc oxide particles when burned, but these are generally not considered dangerous. Overall, as long as the wicks are lead-free, Woodwick candles should not release toxic chemicals from the wick when burned properly.

Potential Issues with Fragrance Oils

Many Woodwick candles contain synthetic fragrance oils to provide scent. While these artificial scents help to create pleasant aromas, fragrance oils have been associated with some potential health issues.

One major concern is that fragrance oils can act as allergens or asthma triggers for some people. According to research from the Fontana Candle Company, fragrance oils contain chemical compounds like phthalates and formaldehyde that can cause allergic reactions in those sensitive to these substances (source). Further, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes synthetic fragrances as one of the most prevalent triggers for asthma attacks.

In contrast, pure essential oils extracted directly from plants do not contain these potentially problematic compounds. However, fragrance oils are much cheaper to produce than natural essential oils, which is why many companies use them in scented products.

Those with sensitivities may want to be cautious around products like Woodwick candles that contain synthetic fragrance oils. Opting for fragrances made with pure essential oils is an alternative for people concerned about allergic reactions or asthma flare-ups.

Is Paraffin Wax Toxic?

One of the main ingredients in many Woodwick candles is paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum and is known as a byproduct of crude oil refining[1]. While paraffin itself is considered relatively inert and non-toxic, there are some potential health concerns with burning paraffin candles.

When paraffin wax burns, it releases compounds like toluene and benzene into the air. Studies have shown that exposure to benzene can potentially lead to serious health issues like cancer and anemia[2]. Benzene is classified by the EPA as a known human carcinogen. The soot that is emitted from paraffin candles can also contain concerning substances like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

burning paraffin wax releases concerning compounds like benzene into the air.

While burning a paraffin candle occasionally likely poses little risk, some feel that frequent and prolonged exposure to paraffin combustion byproducts could potentially have negative health effects. Those particularly sensitive to chemicals or who burn candles often may want to opt for candles made from plant-based waxes.

Overall, more research is still needed on the exact toxicity levels and health risks associated with paraffin candle emissions. But there are enough concerning components released that some may wish to exercise caution, especially with frequent use.


Safer Candle Ingredients

There are several natural and non-toxic ingredients that can be used to make safer candles. Some of the best options include:

Beeswax – Beeswax is a natural wax created by honey bees. It is non-toxic and burns cleanly. Beeswax candles emit negative ions which help clean the air. Beeswax is a sustainable and environmentally friendly candle ingredient (

Soy Wax – Soy wax is made from hydrogenated soybean oil. It’s a renewable and biodegradable resource. Soy wax burns longer and cleaner than paraffin wax. Soy wax candles are non-toxic and free of dyes. However, some people may be sensitive to the soy scent (

Essential Oils – Essential oils can be used to add natural fragrance to candles. Common essential oils used include lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus and lemon. Essential oils are not always allergy-free but are considered less irritating than synthetic fragrances.

Choosing natural waxes like beeswax and soy wax along with pure essential oils are good options for creating non-toxic and eco-friendly candles. These ingredients burn cleanly and provide an alternative to paraffin wax.

Proper Burning and Ventilation

Having sufficient airflow when burning candles is extremely important for safety reasons. Proper ventilation helps prevent buildup of smoke and allows candles to burn cleanly and safely. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (1), you should always burn candles in an open room with good air flow. Never burn candles in an enclosed space like a closet or small bathroom, as this traps smoke and can be very dangerous.

The NFPA recommends placing candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can catch fire, like curtains or furniture. Burn candles out of reach of children and pets in candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over. Never leave burning candles unattended – always blow them out when you leave a room or before going to sleep.

proper ventilation is crucial when burning candles to prevent buildup of smoke.

Allow melted wax pool to harden before relighting a candle. Trim wicks to 1⁄4 inch each time before burning to avoid high flames and smoking. Signs of insufficient ventilation include excess smoking, soot or unusually large flames. Properly ventilated candles burn slower and more evenly for safer use.

Potential Risks

While most Woodwick candles are safe when used properly, there are some potential risks to be aware of. One issue is soot, which occurs when a candle doesn’t burn cleanly. The soot released from a candle can dirty surfaces, cause stains, and could potentially trigger respiratory issues. According to the National Observer, “Soot is composed of fine black particles that are released into the air when a flame burns. Studies show that breathing in tiny soot particles is associated with health risks, including asthma, bronchitis, and even cancer.”

Another concern is fragrance allergies or sensitivity. Woodwick candles contain synthetic fragrance oils that give them their pleasant smells. However, the National Observer reports that “Artificial fragrances are associated with a range of health issues, including migraines, asthma attacks, and contact dermatitis.” Those with asthma or allergy issues may react negatively when burning scented candles.

In general, burning candles produces indoor air pollutants that can aggravate those with asthma or respiratory conditions. According to Pure & Simple Nourishment, “The soot, vapors, and fumes released from burning candles enter our lungs and bloodstream every time we inhale near an open flame.” Proper ventilation when burning any candles is important to minimize risk.

Safer Candle Alternatives

For those concerned about the potential toxicity of traditional paraffin candles, there are safer, more natural candle options available. Two popular alternatives are beeswax and soy candles.

Beeswax candles are made from the wax produced by honey bees. Beeswax is a natural wax that burns cleaner than paraffin with less soot. Studies have shown decreased levels of harmful volatile organic compounds like toluene and benzene when burning beeswax candles versus paraffin candles (Source). Beeswax candles also have a lovely natural honey aroma when burning. Top beeswax candle brands include Goldrick, Neom, and Miller Harris (Source).

beeswax candles are a natural alternative to paraffin candles.

Soy wax candles are another alternative, made from hydrogenated soybean oil. Soy wax burns cleanly and is biodegradable. Popular soy candle brands are Terralite and Essence One.

Candle warmers are another option that heat candles to release fragrance without burning the wax. This eliminates smoke and soot. Popular brands like Scentsy and Yankee Candle offer electric candle warmers.


To summarize, Woodwick candles are not typically dangerous or highly toxic with normal use. However, there are some potential risks to be aware of. The signature crackling wicks contain wood and cotton that can release small amounts of soot when burned. The fragrances oils may also release VOCs, though Woodwick uses phthalate-free formulas. And paraffin wax produces some soot when burned.

To minimize risks, follow usage guidelines carefully. Trim wicks, allow proper ventilation, avoid burning for more than 4 hours at a time. Those sensitive to fragrances or smoke may want to avoid Woodwick candles altogether. There are also safer natural wax alternatives without wicks one can try. Overall the risks seem low for most people if used properly, but those with sensitivities or underlying health conditions should take extra precautions.

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