Candles During Pregnancy: Is Burning or Making them Safe?

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Written by Shandra Williams

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Burning candles is something that everyone I know loves to do – myself included. Even as I sit here writing this, I have my delicious Japanese Cherry Blossom candle from Scents of Soy burning right now. But what if you’re pregnant; can you still burn – or make – candles then?

Burning candles while pregnant is perfectly safe as long as you’re burning the right kind of candles – paraffin- and lead-free candles made with natural wax and cotton or wood wicks. Making candles is also safe, though some doctors have concerns about pregnant women handling essential oils.

This article will give you more information about burning and making candles while pregnant. It’ll outline specifically which types of candles are safe for pregnant women to burn and give you some perhaps surprising information about a few of the most popular candle brands on the market. Keep reading!

Can You Burn or Light Candles When Pregnant?

When lit, cared for, and used correctly, lit candles pose a relatively low risk of danger. However, there are obvious fire hazards associated with them, especially around pets, babies, and people like me who often forget things. 

Other than that, though, candles are usually pretty safe.

You can light and burn candles when pregnant, but you should only use specific brands. You shouldn’t burn any candles made with paraffin wax or lead, metal, or synthetic wicks. Instead, choose natural wax (soy, beeswax, coconut, etc.) candles with cotton wicks.

It’s also crucial to check out the ingredients list on all-natural candles to see which essential oils the company used to give the candle its fragrance. While the debate over many essential oils still rages, doctors have deemed some of them unsafe for pregnant women. You should stay away from those, even if it’s out of an abundance of caution. 

As long as you stick to those basic guidelines, however, you should be relatively safe burning candles as long as you’re burning them in a well-ventilated area that isn’t causing you to inhale lots of smoke.

burning lavender scented candles with lavender flowers

Are Scented (Aromatherapy) Candles OK During Pregnancy?

Some scented/aromatherapy candles are okay during pregnancy. Like all candles, they should be made with natural waxes and wicks. Additionally, you should ensure they are scented using only essential oils safe for pregnant women, such as lemon, lavender, ginger, or orange.

The following is a list* of essential oils that doctors recommend you avoid if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding: 

  • Fennel
  • Pennyroyal
  • Wormwood
  • Parsley seed or leaf
  • Basil
  • Mugwort
  • Oregano
  • Chamomile
  • Sage
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Aniseed
  • Birch
  • Camphor
  • Tansy
  • Hyssop
  • Tarragon
  • Thuja
  • Wintergreen

(sources: The University of Texas at El Paso, The University of Kentucky, & Ohio State University Extension)

*This list is not exhaustive, and some doctors may only recommend against ingesting or using the essential oils topically. As with all things, it’s best to consult your doctor before using any essential oils or if you have any questions or concerns.

While the above list may not be comprehensive, most essential oils not listed there should be safe to use in scented candles. Citrus scents are popular, as are ginger and peppermint, because they help with nausea and morning sickness

Jasmine and lavender are also a favorite among expectant mothers, especially those under a lot of extra stress, as those essential oils are calming. 

burning citronella candles

Are Citronella or Anti-Bug Candles Safe When Pregnant?

A study conducted in 2000 determined that mosquitoes are more attracted to pregnant women than non-pregnant women (source: The Lancet). 

While the study was extremely limited (only 72 women participated), most scientists agree that mosquitoes are probably more attracted to pregnant women.

That’s because they’re larger and breathe more heavily after walking or exercising, releasing more carbon dioxide (the chemical that attracts mosquitoes) into the air than the average person. 

That unfortunate statistic will have plenty of pregnant women reaching for the citronella candles this summer, but are they safe?

Citronella candles may or may not be safe for pregnant women; many doctors and scientists disagree on this point. Since little evidence exists to rule definitively one way or the other, you might want to avoid using them to be on the safe side. 

The EPA lists citronella among its “unregistered products” – products that don’t have to be EPA-tested for safety – because they determined that products made with citronella oil “posed minimal risk to human health in the percentages found in products on the market” (source: United States Environmental Protection Agency).  

That makes it seem like citronella candles would be safe for expectant mothers. However, WebMD disagrees, stating explicitly that pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use citronella candles because “not enough is known about the use of citronella oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding” (source: WebMD).

My recommendation would be to avoid citronella candles; however, you can always speak to your doctor and get their opinion. 

Are Soy or Beeswax Candles Safe During Pregnancy?

Soy and beeswax candles are safe for use while pregnant. In fact, they are some of the safest candles you can use – pregnant or not! Be sure the candle is made of 100% soy or beeswax, though, because some companies market candles as “soy-based” even if there’s only a slight amount of soy in them.

Also, remember to check out the wick and look at the various essential oils used to provide the candle’s fragrance. 

Popular Candle Brands and Pregnancy Safety

One of the most dangerous things in candles that you should avoid while you’re pregnant is paraffin wax (source: Healthline). 

There’s ample evidence to support the dangers of paraffin wax candles for all users (and their pets), not just pregnant women. Unfortunately, most of the most popular candle brands on the market use paraffin wax. That means you really shouldn’t be burning them if you’re pregnant. 

Diptyque candles, Yankee Candle candles, and Bath and Body Works candles all use paraffin wax, making all of them unsafe for pregnant women. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of other natural candle manufacturers out there where you can find pregnancy-safe candles. Some of my favorites include: 

  • Scents of Soy
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
  • Brooklyn Candle Studio
  • Wax Buffalo
  • Back Porch Studios
  • Heretic Candles

You can even find several options on Amazon, including some of those listed above! 

Candle making showing the pouring of liquid wax into jars

Is Candle Making Safe if You’re Pregnant?

Making candles while pregnant should be relatively safe as long as you’re using natural waxes and wicks and limiting your exposure to the essential oils you’ll use to scent the candles. Additionally, you should avoid handling any essential oils deemed unsafe by doctors. 

As long as you keep those things in mind, you should be able to continue your candle-making hobby just as you always have. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re a candle addict like me, I understand not wanting to give up your favorite household scents just because you’re pregnant. Luckily, you shouldn’t have to give them up; you may just need to switch to a different brand.