How Much CO2 Does a Candle Produce? Find Out During Earth Hour

Have you ever wondered how much carbon dioxide a candle produces compared to an incandescent bulb? Candles and lights are both popular choices for creating ambiance in a room, but they also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of CO2 released by candles and light bulbs can vary depending on several factors such as the type of wax, wick, and filament used. Understanding the impact of candle and light bulb emissions is crucial for individuals and businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint. When it comes to emissions, both flame and filament play a role in the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

We’ll explore why carbon dioxide emissions from candles matter as a greenhouse gas, what contributes to these emissions, and what steps can be taken to minimize them. So, let’s shed some light on this important topic, especially during Earth Hour when we turn off our lights and avoid using incandescent bulbs.

The Science Behind Candle Emissions

Candles have been used for centuries to provide light and warmth through the flame, but have you ever wondered about the emissions they produce? When a candle is burned, it undergoes combustion which produces heat, lights, water vapor, and carbon dioxide. Although candles do not emit as much greenhouse gas as incandescent bulbs, it’s important to consider the environmental impact of lighting sources.

Combustion and Hydrocarbons

The chemical reaction that occurs during the combustion of a paraffin candle involves the breaking down of hydrocarbons in the wax vapor by a flame into smaller molecules. This process releases energy in the form of heat and light, but also results in the emission of harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide and soot particles. However, not all of the hydrocarbons are broken down completely during combustion.

Oxygen Availability

The amount of oxygen available during combustion affects the completeness of burning and therefore impacts the amount of CO2 and carbon monoxide produced. When there is an insufficient supply of oxygen, incomplete burning occurs which leads to higher levels of soot particles and other pollutants being released into the air. On the other hand, when there is sufficient oxygen available during combustion, complete burning occurs which results in lower levels of emissions, including greenhouse gases. It is important to note that enough heat is also required for a proper flame to form during combustion.

Other Factors That Affect Candle Emissions

Aside from oxygen availability, other factors such as temperature, pressure, and humidity can also affect soy candle emissions. The flame of a soy candle can release greenhouse gas and carbon monoxide into the air.

  • Temperature: Higher temperatures can lead to a stronger flame and more complete burning, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions, carbon monoxide, and particles.
  • Pressure: Changes in atmospheric pressure can affect the flame and efficiency of candles burning, as well as increase carbon dioxide emissions and carbon monoxide production. However, this does not affect the use of electricity.
  • High levels of humidity can cause flames from candles to burn less efficiently due to moisture absorption, leading to increased carbon dioxide emissions.

How Much CO2 Does a Candle Produce?

So now that we know about some factors that affect candle emissions let’s answer our main question – how much CO2 does a candle produce? The exact amount varies depending on several factors including soy candles, flame, and other factors mentioned earlier.

  • Type of wax: Different types of wax have different compositions that can affect flame emissions.
  • Size of the flame on a candle: Larger flames will naturally produce more emissions than smaller ones.
  • Burn time: The longer a candle’s flame burns, the more emissions it will produce.

On average, a single candle flame can produce anywhere from 10 to 100 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per hour of burning. This may not seem like much, but when you consider that millions of candles are burned every day around the world, the carbon dioxide emissions add up quickly.

Carbon Molecules and Candle Emissions

Candles are a popular way to create ambiance, provide light, and add fragrance to a room. However, have you ever wondered how much CO2 a candle produces?

Carbon Molecules in Candles

The three most common types of carbon molecules found in candles are paraffin wax (C25H52), stearic acid (C18H36O2), and beeswax (C15H31COOC30H61). Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum or crude oil, while stearic acid is derived from animal fat or vegetable oil. Beeswax is produced by bees.

Candle Burns and Emissions

When a candle burns, its wick heats the wax which then melts and vaporizes. The heat also breaks down the carbon molecules into smaller hydrocarbons that react with oxygen to form CO2 gas along with other byproducts like water vapor. The amount of CO2 produced by candles depends on the type of fuel used as well as the amount of oxygen available for combustion.

A typical candle can emit up to 22 grams of carbon dioxide per hour. This number varies depending on the type of candle being burned. For example, soy-based candles produce less CO2 than paraffin-based candles because soy wax has fewer carbon molecules.

In addition to carbon dioxide, burning candles can also release other harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These gases contribute to air pollution and can be harmful to human health.

Environmental Impact

The emissions from burning candles contribute to greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere leading to climate change. Greenhouse gases include not only CO2 but also methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.

The environmental impact of burning candles depends on several factors such as the type of fuel used, the amount of oxygen available for combustion, and the length of time the candle burns. To reduce your carbon footprint from burning candles, consider using soy-based or beeswax candles that produce less CO2 than paraffin-based candles.

Understanding the Mass of Candle Emissions

How much CO2 does a candle produce?

Candles are a popular choice for creating a cozy atmosphere or providing lighting during power outages. However, have you ever wondered how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is released when burning a candle? The amount of CO2 emitted by a candle depends on various factors such as its size, burn time, and composition.

Factors affecting the mass of CO2 emissions from candles

Size and Volume

The larger the candle, the more wax it contains, which means it will generally release more CO2 than smaller candles. For example, if two candles with different sizes and volumes are burned for an equal amount of time, the bigger one will emit more CO2 than the smaller one.

Burn Time

The length of time that a candle burns also affects its emissions. Longer burn times result in higher amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Factors such as wick length, diameter, and composition can all affect burn time.

Calculating the Amount of CO2 Emitted by Candles

To calculate the amount of CO2 emitted by candles accurately, you need to consider their size and burn time. Here’s how:

  1. Determine the weight or volume of your candle.
    • If you have a scale at home, weigh your candle in grams.
    • If you don’t have access to a scale, use measuring cups to determine its volume in milliliters.
  2. Calculate the mass or volume percentage of carbon in your candle.
    • Most candles contain paraffin wax made from petroleum oil that is approximately 85% carbon by weight.
    • Beeswax and soy wax are alternatives to paraffin that produce less soot and fewer emissions.
  3. Use an online calculator to determine how much CO2 your specific type of wax produces when burned.
  4. Multiply the weight or volume of your candle by the percentage of carbon in your wax and then by the amount of CO2 produced per unit of carbon.
  5. Finally, divide the result by 100 to get the amount of CO2 emitted by your candle.

Scented Candles and Environmental Impact

Indoor Air Pollution and Negative Health Effects

Scented candles are a popular home decor item, but they may come with some negative environmental impacts. One concern is indoor air pollution caused by the chemicals released during combustion. Paraffin candles, which are commonly used in scented candles, are made from petroleum waste products and release harmful pollutants when burned.

These pollutants can cause respiratory issues such as asthma, allergies, and other health problems. In addition to paraffin wax, the fragrance oils used in scented candles can also impact the amount and type of emissions produced during combustion.

Natural Fragrances for Environmentally Friendly Options

While synthetic fragrances may be cheaper and more readily available than natural alternatives, they can have a greater impact on both human health and the environment. Synthetic fragrances are often made from petroleum-based chemicals that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Natural fragrances like essential oils may be a more environmentally friendly option compared to synthetic fragrances. Essential oils are derived from plants through distillation or cold pressing methods, making them a renewable resource. They also do not contain harmful chemicals that can contribute to indoor air pollution.

When choosing scented candles, look for those made with natural fragrances like essential oils rather than synthetic ones. Soy wax is another eco-friendly alternative to paraffin wax commonly found in traditional candles.

Choosing Unscented Candles or Those with Natural Fragrances

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of candle emissions but still want to enjoy the ambiance of burning candles at home, there are several options available:

  • Choose unscented candles: These will emit fewer pollutants into your indoor air since they don’t contain any added fragrance.
  • Look for soy wax: Soy wax is an eco-friendly alternative to paraffin wax commonly found in traditional candles.
  • Choose natural fragrance options: When selecting scented candles, look for those made with natural fragrances like essential oils rather than synthetic ones. This will help reduce the amount of harmful chemicals released into your indoor air.

Palm Oil and Environmental Impact

Palm oil is another ingredient commonly found in candles that can have a negative environmental impact. Palm oil production contributes to deforestation, habitat destruction, and loss of biodiversity. When shopping for candles, check the ingredients list to see if palm oil is included.

To limit the environmental impact of candle emissions, consider choosing unscented candles or those made with natural fragrances like essential oils instead of synthetic ones. Opt for soy wax instead of paraffin wax and avoid products containing palm oil.

By making these small changes in your candle purchasing habits, you can enjoy the ambiance of burning candles at home while also reducing your environmental impact.

Impact of Lighting Candles on Carbon Emissions During Earth Hour

Every year, people around the world participate in Earth Hour by turning off non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about climate change. While this event is a great way to show solidarity and encourage people to think about their energy consumption, it’s important to consider the environmental impact of other lighting options during this time. One popular choice is lighting candles, but how much CO2 does a candle produce? And is it really an eco-friendly option?

What is Earth Hour?

Earth Hour began in 2007 as a symbolic event aimed at raising awareness about climate change. It takes place every year on the last Saturday in March from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time. During this hour, individuals and businesses are encouraged to turn off non-essential lights as a symbol of their commitment to fighting climate change.

The Problem with Electric Lighting

Electric lighting has been one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions over the past century. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), lighting accounts for approximately 15% of global electricity consumption and 5% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

While LED bulbs are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, they still require electricity to operate. This means that even if you switch out your light bulbs for LEDs or turn off your lights during Earth Hour, you’re still contributing to carbon emissions if your electricity comes from fossil fuels.

The Impact of Candles on Carbon Emissions

Candles can be a great alternative source of light during Earth Hour since they don’t require electricity. However, not all candles are created equal.

Traditional paraffin wax candles are made from petroleum-based products and release harmful chemicals into the air when burned. According to research conducted by South Carolina State University, burning just one paraffin candle can emit the same amount of chemicals as burning a diesel engine for 30 minutes.

Soy wax candles, on the other hand, are made from natural materials and are biodegradable. They also burn cleaner than paraffin candles and don’t release harmful chemicals into the air. Beeswax candles are another eco-friendly option since they’re made from renewable resources and don’t produce any soot when burned.

Choosing Eco-Friendly Candles

If you’re planning to light candles during Earth Hour, it’s important to choose eco-friendly options that won’t harm the environment. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Look for candles made from natural materials like soy wax or beeswax.
  • Avoid candles with added fragrances or dyes since these can contain harmful chemicals.
  • Choose candles with cotton wicks instead of metal ones since metal wicks can release lead into the air when burned.
  • Consider using candle holders made from recycled materials or repurposing old jars as candle holders instead of buying new ones.

By choosing sustainable, non-toxic candles made from natural materials, you can help reduce the environmental impact of lighting candles during Earth Hour.

Research on Indoor Air Pollution and Candles

Burning candles has been a common practice for centuries. They provide an ambiance that is hard to replicate with other sources of light. However, recent studies have shown that burning candles indoors can contribute to indoor air pollution, which could lead to respiratory problems and other health issues.

The Chemicals Released by Burning Candles

When you burn a candle, it releases chemicals into the air. These chemicals include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can react with other pollutants in the air to form harmful substances like ozone. Paraffin wax candles are particularly problematic as they release more VOCs than other types of candles.

Negative Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution affects millions of people worldwide every day. It is a significant problem in many towns and cities around the world, especially in developing countries where people use solid fuels like wood or charcoal for cooking and heating their homes.

The negative health effects of indoor air pollution are well-documented. Exposure to high levels of indoor air pollution has been linked to respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and lung cancer. Children and elderly people are particularly vulnerable to these health risks.

Proper Ventilation Can Help Reduce Indoor Air Pollution from Candle Emissions

Proper ventilation is essential when burning candles indoors. Opening windows or using an exhaust fan can help remove the pollutants released by burning candles from your home’s air.

Another way to reduce indoor air pollution from candle emissions is by choosing eco-friendly candle options made from natural materials like beeswax or soy wax instead of paraffin wax. These types of candles release fewer VOCs into the air than paraffin wax candles.

Insights into the Chemistry Behind the Production of CO2 from Burning Candles

In conclusion, burning candles emit carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals that can affect indoor air quality and contribute to environmental pollution. The amount of CO2 produced by a candle depends on various factors such as the type of wax, wick, and scent used. Scented candles may have a higher environmental impact due to the use of synthetic fragrances.

To reduce your carbon footprint from burning candles, consider using natural wax candles with cotton wicks or beeswax candles. You can also limit your candle usage or opt for unscented options. During Earth Hour or other events that involve lighting candles, try to use renewable energy sources instead.


Q: Are all types of candles equally harmful to the environment?

A: No, some types of candles are more environmentally friendly than others. Natural wax candles with cotton wicks or beeswax candles are better alternatives compared to paraffin wax or scented soy wax candles.

Q: Can burning scented candles cause health problems?

A: Yes, burning scented candles can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which may cause respiratory irritation and other health problems in some people.

Q: How do I dispose of used or leftover candle wax?

A: You can reuse leftover candle wax by melting it down and pouring it into new containers or making new DIY candle creations. Alternatively, you can recycle candle containers if they are made of glass or metal. Be sure to check with your local recycling center for specific guidelines.

Q: What should I look for when purchasing eco-friendly candles?

A: Look for natural ingredients such as soy wax, beeswax, coconut oil, or palm oil that come from sustainable sources. Also, choose cotton wicks over lead-based wicks and avoid synthetic fragrances.

Q: Can burning too many candles in a room be harmful to my health?

A: Yes, burning too many candles in a small or poorly ventilated room can increase indoor air pollution and cause respiratory irritation. It’s best to limit candle usage and ensure proper ventilation.

Q: Are there any benefits of burning candles?

A: Burning candles can create a relaxing atmosphere, improve mood, and provide aromatherapy benefits. However, it’s important to use them responsibly and choose eco-friendly options.

Q: How long should I burn a candle for?

A: It’s recommended to burn candles for no more than 3-4 hours at a time to prevent overheating and ensure even wax melt.