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Can Candles Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? (And How to Protect Yourself)

Can Candles Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? (And How to Protect Yourself)

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When you are setting up different rooms in your house, no doubt you want each room to have its own semblance of ambiance. 

You might purchase a few things to set the right tone, like some pictures, ceramics or even some books and a bookcase. You might even theme the rooms in a certain way, and nothing sets a theme or a mood better than some scented candles. 

The question becomes, when you start to burn the candles, are you causing some serious health concerns which could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning?

What Can Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Car Exhaust

Carbon monoxide is typically associated with exhaust, like out of a vehicle. However, this is not the only source where carbon monoxide can be present. 

Other items in and around your house can produce carbon monoxide, including grills, portable generators and any kind of a fire or gas fireplace or stove. 

Any item within your house which needs to be powered by some sort of fire or gas will generate carbon monoxide around it; this means you need to be very careful around these items. 

Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer”; it is termed this because none of your five senses can detect it. If you are immersed in it for too long, it will poison you.

This is done through the very system which brings oxygen to your body, your veins. Blood is coursing through your veins on a constant basis.  The blood in your body carries oxygen to the vital parts of your body, in order for you to stay functioning at all times. 

When carbon monoxide is introduced into your body, the carbon monoxide is stronger than oxygen, so it will push the oxygen in your blood stream out of the way. 

When this happens, your body is deprived of oxygen, which will weaken your body. The bigger issue is that carbon monoxide poisoning could take hours to produce any symptoms.

If you ever feel as if you have problems with your vision or feel lightheaded, and you are near an open flame of any kind and in an enclosed space, then you might be suffering carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Problems with Vision

Other symptoms would include feeling like you have the flu, but aren’t running a high temperature, or if a person is having some major memory issues, like they can’t remember what they were doing one minute, five minutes or even 15 minutes ago. 

Remember, one of these symptoms on their own isn’t typically a reason to be concerned, but if you have more than one, you should immediately turn off any open flame and get into a ventilated area.

The CDC tracked this, and proclaim that up to 400 people a year die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and up to 20,000 people go to the hospital every year for this condition. 

As you can see, more than likely you will not die from carbon monoxide, but it can mess with your equilibrium and your overall well-being.

With all of this being said, then the question remains – will a candle cause these kinds of issues?

Can a Candle Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

The simple answer to this question is yes, it can. However, it is very unlikely to cause you any harm, as long as you take some very minor steps in order to protect yourself and others. 

A candle can produce levels of carbon monoxide which are measurable.  It doesn’t matter if the candle is scented or unscented; the level of carbon monoxide is the same. You should never leave the candle burning in a room that is fully closed off. 

This is for two reasons:

  1. If something were to happen to the candle and it were to tip over, it could cause a fire.
  2. If a candle is left burning in an enclosed space, there will be enough carbon monoxide built up in the room to potentially cause some serious health issues.

Remember, your senses cannot detect carbon monoxide, so you could be sitting in it right now and not even know. 

When you are burning candles you must be very aware of where you are burning the candle, and ensure there is enough ventilation in and around that area to where the carbon monoxide will dissipate in the air and not cause any harm.

What Protective Measures Can Be Taken?

Carbon Monoxide Detector

There are a few things you can do which will reduce the amount of or alert you to a harmful amount of carbon monoxide.

The best thing you can do is to purchase a carbon monoxide detector. These typically are about the size of a smoke detector, and can go on a wall just like a smoke detector. You don’t need many carbon monoxide detectors, but you should have one on every floor of your living space. 

Based on the amount of carbon monoxide being produced from a candle, it would take hours before it would do any damage or harm to you. Therefore, if your carbon monoxide detector starts chirping, you can take action right away and blow out any candles or other exposed flames you have, open some windows, and ventilate your area so it can be safe again.

Along these lines, you should not burn numerous candles at the same time. It’s okay to burn a few at the same time as long as they are smaller. The larger the candles are and the more wicks you have burning, the fewer number of candles you should burn at once. 

Final Thoughts

Candles can produce a traceable amount of carbon monoxide, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the amount which is produced is very low.

So, as long as you take the proper steps when burning a candle, you should be able to enjoy your candles while burning and create the theme and mood you are intending within each room you have within your place of living.

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