Protect your indoor air quality with these alternatives to candles

December 22, 2020
Glow salt lamp, dark vintage wooden background, selective focus

It’s winter, the best time of year to curl up with an evening mug of hot cocoa and cozy conversation by the light of a few candles. But you may be feeling more hesitant about candles lately: Many online sources say paraffin candles (which make up the vast majority of the market) release toxins into the air, both soot and VOCs, and put your indoor air quality at risk.

Is this true?

Health experts say there have been no conclusive studies proving this. (This article is a good place to start.) But they also recommend reducing the amount of any kind of smoke you inhale and ventilating rooms where candles are or have been burning.


What to do?

To be honest, just looking at the black spots on walls or ceilings in spaces where candles burn often is enough to encourage us to look for alternatives to candles. Why work so hard to clean the air with home filtration systems and air purifiers if you’re going to release unknown compounds into the air?

Here are a few ideas we love for creating mood while protecting your indoor air quality.

LED candles

Battery-powered candles or flameless candles look close to the real thing but they don’t release any smoke, which is a big plus when you’re thinking about keeping your air clean. We also love that you have options: a steady glow or a flickering “flame.”

Miniature white lights

What many of us call Christmas lights can stay up year-round. String them around the perimeter of the ceiling. Use them to highlight a special spot in your house, like a room divider. Keep them strung on the front porch and let their light spill in through your front window. (Or invest in those cool outdoor café lights.)

Fairy lights

Battery-powered LED fairy lights are strings of very tiny lights, usually held together on thin wires. They make it simple to create a special mood anywhere in your home. One of our favorite tricks is to stuff them into a Mason jar, a glass bottle, or another clear container for a flurry of sparkly light.

Table lamps

Plug-in or battery-powered lamps with shades that cast a glow can be a great way to soften a corner of the room and give you just enough light. Think crinkly, Japanese-inspired paper shades. So soothing.

Salt lamps

Okay. Technically, salt lamps are table lamps. But we’re calling them out separately because they’re just so cool. They’re not a traditional shaded lamp but a chunk of hollowed out Himalyan salt that glows a soft pink. Looking at one makes you feel like you’re relaxing at your favorite spa. Good vibes, all around.

Lava lamps

Okay. This is also technically a table lamp—but a super groovy one. Instead of plain old ambient light, why not plug in a lava lamp and let the blobs of shifting wax create a soothing, ‘70s mood? We love them for their chill, weird glow.

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