Does Candles Produce Carbon Monoxide? Learn All About It Here

It’s easy to think of candles as harmless, little luxuries that set the mood and offer a bit of warmth and light. But have you ever considered if candles produce carbon monoxide? It’s a question that many of us may not know the answer to, but it’s one that’s worth exploring a bit further.

Candles come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and scents, and they’ve been used for centuries to light homes, create ambience, and even for religious ceremonies. However, as we all know, burning any sort of fuel comes with its own set of byproducts, and candles are no different. So, does burning a candle produce carbon monoxide? The answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no, but it’s important to know the risks associated with candles and their impact on indoor air quality.

Whether you’re a candle enthusiast or simply someone who enjoys the occasional flicker of flame, it’s important to understand the science behind candle burning and its impact on the air we breathe. In this article, we’ll explore the properties of candles, their chemical composition, and how they impact indoor air quality. We’ll also provide some helpful tips on how to minimize the risks associated with candle burning and ways to enjoy the beauty of candles in a safe and responsible manner.

What is carbon monoxide and its effects on humans?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as wood, charcoal, natural gas, propane, gasoline and diesel. When inhaled, CO can bind with hemoglobin in red blood cells, thus preventing the delivery of oxygen to vital organs. This can lead to a wide range of health problems, some of which can be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CO poisoning causes an estimated 430 deaths and 50,000 emergency department visits in the United States each year.

What are the effects of carbon monoxide on humans?

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death (at high levels of exposure)

How does exposure to carbon monoxide happen?

Exposure to CO can occur in numerous ways, including:

  • Inhaling exhaust fumes from cars and trucks
  • Using gas-powered tools or equipment indoors
  • Burning charcoal or wood in an enclosed space
  • Using gas stoves or ovens for heating
  • Using gas-powered generators or space heaters indoors or in poorly ventilated areas

What can be done to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of CO poisoning:

Steps to prevent CO poisoning
Install CO detectors in every sleeping area and on every level of the home
Have heating equipment, vents, and chimneys checked and cleaned by a professional every year
Never use gas-powered tools or equipment indoors
Never use charcoal or wood-burning devices in an enclosed space
Never leave a car running in an enclosed space

By taking these precautions, you can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

What are the common sources of carbon monoxide in homes?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is toxic to humans and animals. In homes, there are several sources of carbon monoxide that can cause health problems or even death if not detected early. Here are some of the most common sources of carbon monoxide in homes:

  • Gas appliances: Gas furnaces, water heaters, and stoves can produce carbon monoxide if they are not properly vented or maintained.
  • Wood-burning fireplaces and stoves: Burning wood can produce carbon monoxide, especially if the chimney or flue is blocked or poorly designed.
  • Car exhaust: If a car is left running in a closed garage, the exhaust can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Generators: Portable generators can produce carbon monoxide if they are used indoors or near open windows or vents.

It’s important to note that these sources of carbon monoxide can also be present in workplaces, hotels, and other buildings. It’s crucial to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in all areas where these sources are present to ensure early detection of potential dangers.

In addition to these common sources, there are other factors that can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, including:

  • Poor ventilation: Lack of fresh air circulation can allow carbon monoxide to build up in enclosed spaces.
  • Clogged chimneys and vents: Any blockages can prevent the proper venting of gas appliances and fireplaces, leading to carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Defective or damaged appliances: Malfunctioning gas appliances can produce carbon monoxide, even with proper venting.

Protecting against carbon monoxide poisoning

To protect yourself and your family against carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s important to take the following precautions:

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home, particularly near sleeping areas.
  • Have gas appliances, as well as wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, inspected and maintained annually by a professional.
  • Never use a generator indoors or near open windows or vents.
  • Never leave a car running in an enclosed space.
  • Ensure proper ventilation in all areas where gas appliances or fireplaces are used.
Carbon Monoxide Level Symptoms
50 ppm (parts per million) Mild headache, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness
200 ppm Severe headache, dizziness, confusion, and nausea
400 ppm Life-threatening symptoms such as unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, and death within a few hours

It’s important to note that symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those of the flu or a cold, which is why it’s crucial to have carbon monoxide detectors installed and to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you or a loved one has been exposed to dangerous levels of the gas.

How does candle combustion work?

Candles produce light and heat by burning wax through combustion. When a candle is lit, the heat of the flame melts the wax near the wick. This liquid wax is then drawn up the wick by capillary action. Once at the top of the wick, the heat of the flame vaporizes the liquid wax and breaks down its hydrocarbons into molecules of hydrogen and carbon.

  • The hydrogen molecules react with oxygen in the air to produce water vapor.
  • The carbon molecules combine with oxygen in the air to produce carbon dioxide.
  • The incomplete combustion of the hydrocarbons in the wax can lead to the production of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is produced when there isn’t enough oxygen to allow for the complete combustion of the hydrocarbons in the wax. This can occur when the flame is not getting enough oxygen due to a lack of ventilation in the room, or when the wick is not trimmed properly.

In general, candles produce a very small amount of carbon monoxide, and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is quite low. However, it is still important to use candles in a well-ventilated area and to ensure that the wick is trimmed properly to prevent the production of carbon monoxide.

Factor Effect on candle combustion
Air supply Affects the flame size and color. Insufficient air supply can result in the production of carbon monoxide.
Wax type Harder waxes burn more slowly than softer waxes, affecting burn time and flame size.
Wick type Affects the rate of wax consumption and the size and stability of the flame.

Candle combustion is a fascinating and complex process that involves multiple factors. Understanding how candles burn can help you make informed decisions about candle use and ensure that you are using candles safely and responsibly.

Does candle wax or fragrance affect carbon monoxide production?

Candle wax and fragrance can play a significant role in carbon monoxide production. The type of wax used in a candle determines how much carbon monoxide is produced. Paraffin wax, which is commonly used in candles, is made from petroleum and can emit toxic chemicals when burned, including carbon monoxide.

In addition, fragrances added to candles can also affect carbon monoxide production. Certain fragrances, such as those containing synthetic materials like phthalates, can increase the amount of carbon monoxide produced when burned.

Factors that affect carbon monoxide production

  • Type of wax used in the candle
  • Candle size
  • Burn time

Safe candle burning tips

To minimize carbon monoxide production while burning candles, consider following these safe burning tips:

  • Use candles made from soy, beeswax, or other natural, non-toxic materials
  • Avoid burning candles for more than 4 hours at a time
  • Keep candle wicks trimmed to ¼ inch to reduce soot production
  • Never leave candles unattended or within reach of children or pets

Candle wax types and carbon monoxide production

A study conducted by South Carolina State University found that certain types of wax produce more carbon monoxide when burned than others. The study tested paraffin wax, soy wax, beeswax, and gel wax in a controlled environment and found that paraffin wax produced the highest amount of carbon monoxide, followed by gel wax, soy wax, and beeswax.

Wax type Carbon monoxide production (mg/hr)
Paraffin wax 14.5
Gel wax 11.2
Soy wax 10.4
Beeswax 9.4

Choosing candles made from natural, non-toxic materials like soy wax, beeswax, or coconut wax can help minimize carbon monoxide production and create a safer and healthier candle-burning experience.

What are the health risks of burning candles in poorly ventilated areas?

Burning candles can be a relaxing way to unwind after a long day, but it is important to use them safely to avoid potential health risks. When burning candles in poorly ventilated areas, the carbon monoxide produced can build up to dangerous levels. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause serious health problems if inhaled in high concentrations.

  • Headaches: One of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is a headache, which can range from mild to severe.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can also cause nausea and vomiting.
  • Dizziness: Dizziness and lightheadedness are also common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, as it affects the way oxygen is delivered to the body.

It is important to note that people with pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease or respiratory issues, may be more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide. Additionally, infants, young children, and pregnant women can also be more sensitive to carbon monoxide exposure.

To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure from candles, it is recommended to burn them in well-ventilated areas. This allows for better air flow and reduces the concentration of carbon monoxide in the air. It is also important to never leave burning candles unattended and to use them in a safe manner, such as keeping them away from flammable materials and ensuring they are placed on a stable surface.

Carbon monoxide concentration (parts per million) Symptoms
0-9 No health effects
10-35 Mild headache, dizziness, and nausea
36-100 Strong headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion
101-200 Severe headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. May also experience shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat
201-400 Life-threatening symptoms such as unconsciousness, seizures, and cardiac arrest

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and to take action if you suspect that you or someone else may be experiencing them. This includes turning off any burning candles and opening windows to allow for better ventilation. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention immediately.

How can you choose safer candles to reduce carbon monoxide emissions?

Choosing safer candles can significantly reduce your carbon monoxide emissions and protect your health. Here are some tips to help you choose safer candles:

  • Choose candles made of natural and organic materials like soy wax, beeswax, or vegetable wax instead of paraffin wax. Paraffin wax candles are derived from petroleum and can produce harmful chemicals when burned.
  • Look for candles that are scent-free or use essential oils to add fragrance. Fragranced candles can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause respiratory problems.
  • Avoid candles with metal wicks as they can release lead and other heavy metals when burned.

Here is a table summarizing the different types of wax and their environmental impact:

Wax Type Environmental Impact
Paraffin Petroleum-based, non-renewable, emits harmful chemicals
Soy Natural, renewable, biodegradable, low emissions
Beeswax Natural, renewable, biodegradable, emits negative ions that purify the air
Vegetable Natural, renewable, biodegradable, low emissions

By choosing candles made of natural materials and avoiding fragranced candles, you can significantly reduce your carbon monoxide emissions and enjoy a safer, healthier home environment.

Can carbon monoxide detectors detect candle emissions?

When it comes to detecting carbon monoxide emissions from candles, the simple answer is yes – carbon monoxide detectors can detect these emissions. Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to detect even small amounts of carbon monoxide in the air, and while candles don’t produce as much carbon monoxide as say, an oven or a car, they do produce some emissions.

  • Carbon monoxide detectors work by measuring the levels of carbon monoxide in the air. If the levels increase beyond a certain point, the alarm will sound. Most carbon monoxide detectors on the market today are highly effective, and can detect even small levels of carbon monoxide in the air.
  • If you’re concerned about the impact of candle emissions on your home’s air quality, using a carbon monoxide detector can give you peace of mind. While the levels of carbon monoxide in the air might not be immediately harmful, they can build up over time and cause health problems down the line.
  • It’s important to note that not all carbon monoxide detectors are created equal. Some detectors are designed to detect only high levels of carbon monoxide, while others are more sensitive and can detect even small amounts. When it comes to using a carbon monoxide detector to detect candle emissions, it’s best to opt for a more sensitive detector for the most accurate results.

While using a carbon monoxide detector to detect candle emissions might seem like overkill, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health and the safety of your home. Plus, using a carbon monoxide detector is an easy and affordable way to make sure your home is as safe as possible.

Here is a table to show the carbon monoxide levels emitted by different sources:

Source Carbon Monoxide Emissions (ppm)
Gas stoves and ovens 5-15 ppm
Gas dryers 20-25 ppm
Wood-burning stoves 30-50 ppm
Gas fireplaces 70-100 ppm
Cars in an attached garage or drive-through 100-200 ppm
Charcoal grills in use 400 ppm

As you can see from the table, candles produce a relatively small amount of carbon monoxide compared to other sources. However, it’s still a good idea to use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the levels in your home, especially if you burn candles frequently or in large quantities.

How can you properly ventilate a room when burning candles?

Burning candles can produce carbon monoxide which can be harmful to our health especially when inhaled in large amounts. Proper ventilation is essential to prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide and other harmful particles in the air. Here are some ways to properly ventilate a room when burning candles:

  • Open windows and doors – This is the simplest and easiest way to provide ventilation in a room. By opening your windows and doors, you allow fresh air to come in and push the stagnant air out.
  • Use exhaust fans – Exhaust fans can help remove the polluted air inside the room. Installing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens can push the polluted air out from the room.
  • Air purifiers – Air purifiers can help remove pollutants from the air. They are especially beneficial to people who have allergies or respiratory problems. However, air purifiers do not remove carbon monoxide, so it is still important to properly ventilate the room.

It is also important to place candles in areas that are not confined and have good air circulation. Burning candles in a small enclosed area can quickly fill the room with harmful air pollutants.

Here is a table of recommended room sizes and the number of candles you can burn to avoid dangerous levels of air pollution:

Room Size Number of Candles
Small – 100 square feet or less 1-2
Medium – 100 to 200 square feet 2-3
Large – 200 to 400 square feet 3-4
Extra Large – 400 square feet or more 4-5

Proper ventilation is crucial when burning candles to ensure our safety and prevent air pollution. By following these tips, you can enjoy the cozy ambiance that candles provide without risking your health.

What are some alternative ways to add fragrance to a room without burning candles?

For those who prefer not to use candles to add fragrance to their home, there are plenty of other options available. Here are nine alternative ways to create a pleasantly scented atmosphere:

  • Essential oil diffusers: These devices use water and essential oils to release fragrance into the air. They come in a variety of styles and can be found at many health food stores and online retailers.
  • Reed diffusers: Reed diffusers use a mix of scented oils and reeds to disperse fragrance throughout a room. They are typically low maintenance and long-lasting.
  • Potpourri: A mix of dried flowers, herbs, and spices, potpourri can be placed in a bowl or sachet to add fragrance to a room. It can also be refreshed with essential oils or other scents to maintain its potency.
  • Room sprays: Convenient and easy to use, room sprays are available in many scents and can be sprayed as needed to freshen up a room.
  • Incense: Made from herbs and tree resins, incense can be burned to produce fragrant smoke. It comes in a variety of scents and can be found at many spiritual supply stores.
  • Candle warmers: Electric candle warmers melt scented wax without burning a flame, producing a similar scent as a burning candle without the associated risks.
  • Fragrant plants: Plants like lavender, jasmine, and eucalyptus offer a natural way to add fragrance to a room. They can be grown indoors or outdoors and provide both a pleasant scent and natural beauty to a space.
  • Home baking: The smell of freshly baked goods like cookies or bread can make a home feel warm and cozy. It’s also a great way to treat yourself or guests to a tasty snack.
  • Clothing and linen sprays: Spraying a light mist of scented spray onto clothing or bedding can provide a pleasant fragrance that lasts throughout the day or night.


While candles are a popular choice for adding fragrance to a room, there are many other options available. From essential oil diffusers to fragrant plants, there are plenty of ways to create a pleasant and inviting atmosphere without relying on open flames or carbon monoxide-producing candles.

Are there any regulations on the carbon monoxide emissions of candles?

There are currently no specific regulations on the carbon monoxide emissions of candles. However, candle manufacturers are required to follow general safety standards to ensure their products are safe for use.

  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires all candles to be labeled with safety warnings and instructions for safe use.
  • The National Candle Association (NCA) provides safety guidelines for candle manufacturers to follow, including recommendations for labeling, wick trimming, and proper use.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates air pollution from a variety of sources, but candles are not currently part of their regulatory focus.

It is important for consumers to use candles safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions and taking precautions such as keeping candles away from flammable materials and never leaving them unattended.

While there are no specific regulations on carbon monoxide emissions from candles, studies have shown that some types of candles may produce small amounts of carbon monoxide when burned in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. For example, a study by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency found that some scented candles produced low levels of carbon monoxide when burned for an extended period in a poorly ventilated room. However, the levels were well below the recommended exposure limits and not considered a significant health risk.

Type of Candle Carbon Monoxide Emissions
Paraffin Wax Low
Soy Wax Very Low
Beeswax Negligible
Rosemary Oil Scented Low
Lavender Oil Scented Low
Natural Vanilla Scented Very Low

Overall, while there are no specific regulations on carbon monoxide emissions from candles, it is still important for consumers to use candles safely and to choose candles made from natural, non-toxic materials whenever possible.

FAQs About Does Candles Produce Carbon Monoxide

1. Does burning candles produce carbon monoxide in your home?

No, burning candles do not produce carbon monoxide by themselves. However, candles that are made with petroleum-based wax and have metals in the wick can release harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide when burned.

2. What type of candles do not produce carbon monoxide?

Soy-based candles, beeswax candles, and candles with cotton-wicks are generally considered to be safer options for indoor use, as they do not contain petroleum-based products which can emit harmful pollutants.

3. Can exposure to carbon monoxide from burning candles be harmful?

Yes, exposure to carbon monoxide produced by burning candles can be harmful, especially for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

4. How can you tell if your burning candles are releasing carbon monoxide?

You cannot detect carbon monoxide with your senses. The best way to ensure that your candles are not releasing harmful pollutants is to read the labels before purchasing and to choose candles that are made with safe and natural ingredients.

5. Can you burn candles in enclosed spaces safely?

It is not recommended to burn candles in enclosed spaces like bathrooms or bedrooms with the doors closed, as this can lead to the accumulation of harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide.

6. How can you protect yourself from exposure to harmful pollutants from burning candles?

Choosing candles made with natural ingredients that do not contain petroleum-based products is one way to reduce your exposure to harmful pollutants. Additionally, ensuring proper ventilation in the room where you burn candles can also help.

7. Are there any laws or regulations regarding emissions from burning candles?

Currently, there are no federal regulations or laws regarding the emissions from burning candles. However, some states and cities have implemented their own regulations to protect the public from harmful pollutants.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading our FAQs about whether candles produce carbon monoxide. When burning candles, it is important to choose those made with natural ingredients, such as soy-based, beeswax, or cotton-wick candles, and to avoid burning candles in enclosed spaces. Remember to always prioritize your health and well-being when using candles at home. Please visit us again for more informative articles!