What's all the fuss about limonene?

Limonene occurs naturally in our candles

You may have seen a lot of stories in the press over the last few weeks about limonene. A lot of the stories going around are quite worrying, as they claim that scented candles can be bad for your health and could be releasing toxins into the air.  

One of the main chemicals news providers have been focusing on is limonene.

What's the problem? 

A study carried out by Professor Alastair Lewis from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of York and BBC's Trust Me, I'm a Doctor team found that high traces of limonene were present in a number of households.

The issue with this, according to the study, isn't the fact that limonene is present, but what that chemical becomes. 

The study found that when limonene reacts to ozone, it can produce formaldehyde. There is a link between formaldehyde and cancer, suggesting that consistent exposure could be damaging to your health.

These findings have led a number of news sources to proclaim that all scented candles or fragranced products are bad for your health due to the fact they contain limonene, which isn't actually the case.

So what is limonene?

It's important to note that limonene is a natural chemical as it is part of all citrus fruits. It will be present in products that use natural citrus essential oils, although in very small amounts.

However, it can also be extracted to be added to products to add a citrus scent. It can also be synthesised for a cheaper fragrance option. 

It is sometimes added separately to household items - either in its natural or synthetic form - such as air fresheners and cleaning fluids as a cheap way to mask the often unpleasant odour of other chemical used within them. Products that contain limonene that has been added separately tend to contain a lot more of the chemical than products that use essential oils.

This can mean that candles that use synthetic fragrances contain more limonene, but luckily, we use natural essential oils to create our fragrances. 

Limonene is a natural chemical as it is part of all citrus fruits

Why is it in our candles?

You will notice on the ingredients list on our candles that limonene is noted toward the bottom. This is because it occurs naturally in many of the essential oils we use. 

However, less than 0.01 per cent of a candle is limonene, which is a tiny fraction and will not make a difference to the amount of the chemical found in your home. 

We cannot remove the limonene from our products, as it would mean not using certain essential oils. In fact, we couldn't make many of our candles without using the essential oils that contain trace amounts of limonene. 

Are there worse ingredients?

You may be able to reduce the amount of limonene in your home by steering clear of products that add it separately or use synthetic forms of the chemical, but there are other ingredients you should be aware of.

As well as staying away from candles that have high amounts of limonene in, you should also avoid those that use paraffin wax. 

Paraffin wax is used widely, being the most popular type of wax for candles - possibly due to the fact it is a cheaper ingredient. Studies have found that paraffin wax emits a number of toxic chemicals, with researchers at South Carolina University discovering that paraffin candles produce toxins like toluene and benzene.

In comparison, soy wax does not, making it a much healthier, high-quality choice. We're proud to say that all of our candles are made from 100 per cent soy wax.  

Our priority at Heyland and Whittle is the experience we want customers to have when using our products. We also have a duty of care for your wellbeing, which we take very seriously.

While the recent reports about limonene in candles are well-researched and thought provoking, we feel that they do not give enough information on the differences between naturally occurring limonene and separate or synthesised versions. They also don't look at other issues that could be affecting health, including the wax used.

If you have any questions about the limonene used in our products, the wax we use or want to know anything else about our products, please contact us here