What are phthalates?
Believe it or not candle making is more science than art. Each wax needs a different method of heating, adding colors and fragrances, pouring and wicking. They also differ in how they burn – in containers or as pillars or wax melts. Each candle I make is tested multiple times and if it does not work – the candle puts itself out or the scent is not powerful enough – its to the melt pile it goes! I use only fragrance oils that are phthalate free, made for candles, and follow the percentage of fragrance oil to wax strictly.
When I make candles and melts I only buy fragrance oils marked as PHTHALATE free. I can not say the word phthalate to save my life but I know a bit about it.
Phthalates are a class of chemicals widely used to make plastics more malleable (think shower curtain liners and vinyl floor tiles). A number of phthalates are known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm in test animals. These tests have shown negative interference with male reproductive hormones.
According to one article: “Name a major public health concern over the past two decades and there’s likely some link to phthalates exposure. In the past few years, researchers have linked phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.” (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/10/phthalates-plastics-chemicals-research-analysis”
The chemicals can easily migrate off their product, especially with heat. “People can be exposed to phthalates by inhaling or ingesting contaminated dust particles, eating contaminated food, or applying products which contain phthalates to the skin.”. (http://www.nrdc.org/living/chemicalindex/phthalates.asp)
Phthalates can attach to dust particles so please keep candles covered and clamshells closed when not using them. I sell all my candles with lids for this reason. Plus, the fragrances will last longer when they are contained. I have also found that candles with dust on them tend to make soot to burn off the dust.
Like with any claim of harm from a manufactured product there is conflicting evidence available. For me, as soon as I switched to fragrance oils with no phthalates I stopped getting headaches. That was enough of a reason for me to make this commitment.