Danger of Cats and Scented Candles

No one wants their house to smell like cat. I firmly believe you can live with cats and have a clean, healthy, good smelling home.


scented candles and cats

While diet and the litter box has the largest impact on the smell of your home, most people like to use some sort of air fresheners in their home.

For cats that live their entire lives indoors, it is important to consider their air quality and toxins they are exposed to.  The cleaners, products and air fresheners we use have a direct impact on the air they breath 24/7.

Things to consider:

  • Many cats spend their entire lives indoors.
  • Cats spend most of their time on the ground which is where the toxins collect.
  • Cats are constantly grooming themselves and are ingesting toxics collected on their hair.
  • Cats’ sense of smell is about 14 times stronger than humans.
  • The small size of cats make the impact of toxins more harmful.

I previously posted about DIY and pet safe cleaners I use in my home. Since then I have reconsidered the candles I had in my home.

The Problem with Most Scented Candles and Scent Plug-ins

Many candles use paraffin wax which produces highly toxic carcinogens when burned such as Limonene (citrus scent), Alpha-pinene (pine scent), Beta-pinene (pine scent), Ethanol, Acetone. They often also contain artificial scents when burned release additional chemicals. Sadly, the cheaper the candles the more dangerous the ingredients are.

Findings from a 2011 EPA study on Candles and Incense as Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

When candles are burned, they emit trace amounts of organic chemicals, including acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, acrolein, and naphthalene (Lau et al., 1997)

One study showed worst-case scenario concentrations of acrolein, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde from candle emissions exceeding EPA-recommended thresholds.

I absolutely love the ambiance of candles so the idea of never burning a candle again is sad for me too. If you want to use candles consider the following:

  • Do not use in a small confined room
  • Open a window to allow fresh air
  • Use high quality candles
  • Use for short periods of time

Safer Alternatives:

  • Open the windows and get fresh air everyday
  • House plants can help purify the air
  • Use an essential-oil diffuser using cat-safe essential oils
  • High quality beeswax candles
  • Electric candles can give the same ambiance without the risks.

It should go without saying, but if you do light candle,  always make sure they are out of your cats’ reach. It is way to easy for cats to get too close and burn some whiskers, tail or worse!

What do you use to help your home smell good? Let me know in the comments!


EPA Study 2011: Candles and Incense as Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

Huffington Post – Scented Candles Toxic Safer Options

Woman Day – Scented Candles and Air Fresheners Pose Massive Health Risks



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