Every day, the threat of climate change and global warming seems to be getting bigger; as ice caps appear to be melting at a much faster rate, thereby resulting in higher rate of flooding and other effects. Due to this reason, the government is trying to raise global awareness of climate change, and more people are becoming increasingly mindful of their actions and the possible effect they may have on the environment. People are also becoming more curious about candles, and they are starting to wonder if they may be more environmentally friendly than lights.
ARE CANDLES GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
First of all, before we get into how environmentally friendly candles are, compared to lights, we may need to discuss if candles are actually good for the environment in the first place.
One of the first things many experts say is that no form of combustion is good for the environment, since it produces carbon and other gases, and many of these gases are bad for the environment, since they contribute to the greenhouse effect, and global warming. However, a lot of the possible side-effects of combustion also depend on the type of material being burned and its composition. That is why, although burning any form of candles is not particularly good for the environment, people tend to focus a lot of attention (specifically), on the use of paraffin wax candles; being petroleum-based, this type of candles tend to give off the most amount of harmful materials.
Some other factors that contribute significantly to the dangers of candles (where the environment is concerned), include additions and components such as; the use of artificial compounds in the form of dyes, fragrances and other materials (including the type of wick used, or the type of materials used in treating the candle wicks).
On the upside, candles cannot (usually) wreak great damage on the environment, because only small quantities of these harmful materials and fumes are released, when they are lit. However, in large numbers (i.e. when several dozens or hundreds of candles are being lit in the same space every day, it may have negative effects).
Apart from the potential effects of candles on the environment, improper use of candles can also have negative effects on human health, as they can cause headaches, nausea, allergies etc (and worsen respiratory diseases such as asthma).
ARE CANDLES MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY THAN LIGHTS?
Concerns about global warming, and the increasing interest in scented candles – billions of dollars worth of scented candles are purchased every year – have contributed to a rising global awareness and inquisitiveness about candles. People want to know more about candles, and more about their possible effects on the environment. One of the major things that people also compare this information to is electricity (or more specifically, people want to know how much better candles are, compared to lights and electric light bulbs). This is understandable, considering the fact that candles were once replaced by electric lights; whose invention in the late 19th century led to the decline of candle sales for a period of time (i.e. until the age of scented candles and aromatherapy, which we live in now).
Surprisingly – or not-surprisingly, as the case may be – candles are a lot less environmentally friendly compared to lights. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Candles are inefficient sources of light
Imagine these scenarios; you wake up in the middle of the night and you want to study for a test or do a very intricate task like say…put stitches on a dress. Talking about stitches, perhaps a more apt example would require a detour into the medical world, say a doctor (or surgeon) wanted to operate on someone, what would be the most efficient course of action; should they turn on a single candle or turn on a light? Yes. Precisely. Your guess is as good as ours.
When you light a single candle at night (or in the dark), you are less likely to generate as much light (or illumination) as you would by the mere act of turning on a simple light bulb. This fact makes candles pretty inefficient compared to an electric bulb. In order to combat this inefficiency, you will need to light a lot of candles – perhaps, dozens of them – and you still might not be able to enjoy it, the way you would enjoy using an electric light bulb. This means that a lot more greenhouse gases will be produced (from the dozens of candles being lit in the same space); which will result in increased environmental risk. This is particularly true if you use paraffin wax candles, which are guaranteed to produce much more amounts of harmful fumes compared to other types of candles.
- Candles constitute a bigger fire risk than lights
The truth of the matter is that every form of indoor illumination has its own potential of constituting a fire risk (or resulting in a fire outbreak). And while electric light bulbs can have their own potentials, candles are a lot more dangerous objectively speaking. This is because candles are generally left open (their flames are typically open), because they need oxygen to sustain their combustion. This risk or potential is especially higher when they (i.e. candles are left unattended to). This is why many people would (and could) leave a light on, in their homes, through the night but the same thing is not advisable for candles. You simply cannot afford to leave a candle on through the night (unattended to) because anything could happen. A gust of wind could blow through and knock it over (or other similar scenarios could occur); when this happens, things could catch on fire, and the outbreak could be disastrous, as there would be no one around (or awake) to put it out.
Other things that could happen when you light candles through the night is an increased risk of allergies and respiratory problems, however the risk of fire is by far the greatest and most potentially fatal.