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Can Candles Kill Germs? (And Which Work the Best?)

Can Candles Kill Germs? (And Which Work the Best?)

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Candles are wonderful items to keep in our homes. They come in decorative jars and containers that look lovely wherever you place them, they’re usually inexpensive, and best of all, they smell amazing.

Did you know that candles also have other helpful properties? Evidence has shown that burning candles can help alleviate anxiety and depression and create a calming, comfortable atmosphere.

This fact may leave you wondering what else candles can do; can they kill germs? The answer may surprise you.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the proven benefits of candles, their relationship to germs, and more.

Benefits of Burning Candles: Why Smells Matter

There are many benefits of burning candles of any kind. The most obvious is how great they smell!

But why do scents matter? Therein lies the real benefits of burning candles, incense, using a diffuser, and other ways of scenting your home or space.

Scientists and other experts have established aromatherapy and the benefits of using scents for various purposes. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Memories and good brain vibrations

For one thing, smells can help create and evoke positive memories. Your sense of smell is your most potent connection to vivid memories.

Think about a time when you unexpectedly caught a familiar smell, such as the perfume your grandmother used to wear. More than likely, you were immediately transported to her company.

Evoking these kinds of positive memories isn’t subjective either. When you smell a scent that brings you back to a happier time, your brain releases endorphins, which make you instantly feel more comfortable.

Mood lifters

In addition to evoking positive memories, candles themselves can also give your mood a much-needed lift. Smells such as cinnamon, jasmine, lavender, lemon, peppermint, and rosemary have been shown to increase pleasant feelings overall.

Increase focus or productivity

Just as certain smells can help make you happier, some can help you be more productive or improve focus. For a hard day’s work, try basil, eucalyptus, ginger, lemon, or pine.

Relieve stress and sleep

Finally, certain oils and smells can aid in sleep or relaxation, including stress relief. Lavender, lemon, rosemary, and ylang-ylang have all been shown to have this incredible effect on users.

These are just some of the benefits that candle burners have noticed and studies have revealed, but they don’t say too much about germs. Let’s turn our attention there next.

Germs 101

The term “germs” isn’t a strictly scientific one, so let’s clear up what we mean when we talk about germs. Generally speaking, germs are tiny particles that can make us sick.

Typically when we talk about germs, we’re talking about viruses or bacteria, but it is also an umbrella term that can include mold, mildew, and other organic matter that is dangerous for people.

As we turn our attention to whether candles can help us fight germs, we’ll be as specific as possible about what types of germs we’re discussing since something that can fight off bacteria may be ineffective against mold or viruses.

Can Candles Kill Germs?

To answer this question, we need to understand what substances make candles. Typically, candles are made from some kind of wax.

These days, that’s usually paraffin wax, which is a synthetic substance. Still, there is also soy wax, beeswax, coconut wax, and others (your candle will usually indicate on the labeling if it is made from something other than paraffin).

If you have a scented candle, then it also contains something that creates a smell: sometimes candles are scented with artificial scents, but the better candles get their pleasant aroma from essential oils.

Therein lies the answer to our question: some essential oils have been proven to be effective in killing different types of germs. Therefore, in theory, candles that have these oils in them have germ-fighting capabilities.

When you burn a candle, the heat from the flame melts the wax nearby, and then evaporation starts to occur, whereby the scents of the candle are diffused into the air.

Therefore, it stands to reason that candles that contain essential oils that kill bacteria, viruses, mold, and more will release their germ-fighting capabilities when they are burned. To a degree, this is correct.

Studies conducted in the mid-2000s did, in fact, show that when they were burned, candles containing certain essential oils eliminated some of the harmful elements in the air around them. Many germs that cause serious illnesses are airborne, so this is excellent news for candle lovers!

Remember, you will need to leave candles burning for a sufficient amount of time to reap these benefits; the oils will need to diffuse throughout the space. We recommend at least a couple of hours for maximum benefits.

You might now be wondering which candles and oils are best for killing germs? Let’s take a look at that next.

Which Candles Are Best for Fighting Germs?

In this section, we will review the types of essential oils that have been proven to be effective against different kinds of germs.


Lemongrass, orange, and peppermint are most effective against bacteria.

Mold, mildew, and other fungi

When it comes to mold and other fungi, you want to use cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, lemon, and rosemary.


Viruses aren’t technically living, so they are trickier to “kill.” However, some evidence suggests that some of the same oils that fight bacteria are also useful against viruses, especially peppermint and orange.

Other Ways to Harness the Germ Fighting Benefits of Essential Oils

There are a couple of other ways to make your home smell good and improve the air quality at the same time.

For one thing, you can use an essential oil diffuser. With these handy items, you can better control how much oil is going into the air and what the germ-fighting capabilities are.

You can also use essential oils to make an all-purpose cleaner or add them to many other cleaning materials (see below).

Finally, you may have noticed that many of the scents we mentioned are also edible. You can try adding them to foods, as well.

Other Good-Smelling Germ Fighting Techniques

Even though candles have some germ-fighting elements, especially essential oils, they aren’t as effective as you might hope for killing the germs in your home or space. They should only be used as a supplement to other, better germ-killing substances and techniques.

There are many cleaning products on the market that have good smells. Alternatively, you can harness the germ-killing power of good-smelling essential oils as well.

Create a home cleaning solution with white vinegar, water, and essential oils. (Note: you must allow it to sit and dry for 30 minutes to maximize its germ-killing abilities, rather than wiping it off immediately.)

You can also add essential oils to dryer sheets, homemade laundry detergent, room and linen sprays, and much more. Many of these products are also available with the oils already in them.

Final Thoughts

In the end, while some candles contain germ-killing essential oils, they should not be relied on exclusively to disinfect your home or other space. That said, you can utilize them to supplement your other cleaning techniques.

The most important aspect of any candle is that you like the smell and that it creates a more holistically healthy environment for you.

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