A few years ago I decided to stop lighting candles. At the time, candles were one of the few things that I would still buy new something. I love the smell of some candles, even when they’re not burning. And honestly, there are some pretty beautiful candles available. Aesthetically, they can really make your home better. And besides that, I also thought it was a cozy thing to do: to light a candle and romantically sit by it. But despite all those things, I decided to remove candles from my life. Here’s why I never light candles.
I decided to stop buying candles because it’s bad for my health. When you burn a candle, you create air pollution. For that matter, it doesn’t really matter whatever you burn. Paper, candles, coal, it all creates pollution. Particulate matter, to be precise. The same kind of pollution that comes from cars, cigarettes and fossil fuels. When you burn candles, you create that particulate matter inside of your home. I want to prevent that, where-ever possible. Of course it matters how much particulate matter you breathe in, but research has shown that, generally speaking, particulate matter is bad for your health and can create all sorts of diseases.
And honestly, I don’t believe particulate matter is the only toxic thing that is released by candles. The Dutch government says that candles also produce volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxides. Also, most candles smell really good. And that smell is caused by some substance, like perfume. I don’t think burning that substance is good for your health. From most candles I don’t know what they’re made off. They may contain any harmful substance. And I honestly don’t believe that burning anything at all can be good for your health.
Most people don’t care about particulate matter, because it’s already all around us. It is created when you have a wood stove, when you cook using high temperatures, it is emitted by cars and tons of other sources as well. Therefore, I’ve heard people say that preventing exposure to particulate matter is useless. I personally disagree. Where I can, I try to limit my exposure to particulate matter. And the particulate matter that comes from candles is something I can choose to prevent. The particulate matter from cars in my city is not something I can manage (I would if I could). For the same reason I don’t smoke cigarettes. I don’t want to make matters worse than it is.
Right now, I am not going to go into how much particulate matter is released when you light one candle. There is just one simple rule: the more you light, the more pollution. Right now, we live with about 8 billion people on this planet. What everybody lit one candle every day? 8 billion candles, I bet that’s not good for anyone. This thought experiment always helps me when I think of a certain behavior. If everybody did the same thing as I do, what would happen? We tend to think: ah, one candle, that doesn’t matter. But we’re not alone on this planet.
Okay, so that’s the first part of my argument. Then there’s the next thing: candles are simply redundant. With every purchase I made, I try to think: do I really need this? And what does this bring me? When it comes to the positive side of candles, they bring me a nice physical sensation (the smell) and a nice ambiance. For me, that doesn’t weigh up to the negative consequences. But also, those things are no needs. Candles are not essential for me to live a good life. It’s a ‘nice to have’ in the best case. And so, I don’t buy them. They’re redundant and a luxury. Where-ever I can, I try to eliminate those things out of my life.
Then there’s the last question. Candles can look very good in my interior. They’re nice decoration. So why not use them like that, without burning them? For some people this might be an option, but for me it’s not. I like my decoration to have a function if that’s a possible. Plants for example, are great decoration, as they clean the air and have positive effects on your mental well-being. Candles don’t have any function if they’re not used. They only create extra work because they catch dust and I’d have to clean them. I try to keep my home decoration minimalistic because it saves me time and effort.
That’s why I never light candles (and frankincense either). What about you?
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