It happens every year at the first hint of cool air, shorter days, and a tinge of color in the trees; just like that, there is Pumpkin Spice everywhere! Pumpkin Spice lattes are served on every corner, pumpkin flavored cookies hit the end caps in the grocery stores, and the aroma of those Pumpkin Spice candles waft from every home decor store.
When you love Fall as much as we do, it is easy to get caught up in the Pumpkin Spice craze. But we want you to think again when it comes to that Pumpkin Spice candle. You are probably aware that it is not made of Pumpkin, but have you ever had the opportunity to take a look at the ingredient list?
We are sure you haven’t because manufacturers don’t have to tell you what chemicals are used to create a fragrance. Because the components that go into giving a candle or any scented product its unique smell are considered a trade secret under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1966, manufacturers do not have to disclose the fragrance ingredients.
Want to take a rare look at what is actually in those fall scented candles?
We took a look at the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) of the Toasted Pumpkin Spice Fragrance oil from a very reputable candle ingredient supplier.
We bet you didn’t know that it contains a warning to avoid breathing it in.
How they market it to you:
Comforting and sweet with just the right amount of spice, our Toasted Pumpkin Spice fragrance oil will remind you of autumn festivals, pumpkin carving, and bonfires. Toasty top notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove give way to middle accords of silky buttercream and pumpkin. A base of smoked embers and vanilla gives this scent a warm twist on a classic fall fragrance. This fragrance is infused with natural essential oils, including clove leaf, cedarwood, copaiba, cypress, elemi, cinnamon bark, and olibanum.
Top: Clove, Cinnamon, Nutmeg
Middle: Pumpkin, Buttercream
Base: Smoke, Vanilla
Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?
The Safety Data Sheet that the end consumer (You!) never get to see, tells a different story.
What is a Safety Data Sheet, exactly?
Safety Data Sheets (SDS), also known as the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), includes the properties of each chemical; physical, health, and environmental health hazards of the chemicals; protective measures; and safety procedures for storing and working with the chemicals.
OSHA regulations require laboratories, facilities or shops that use chemicals to have an SDS that is specific to each chemical used in the workplace. They also require the SDS be readily available during each shift to employees in the work area.
Unfortunately, this important safety information does not make it to the consumer purchasing the final product.
Toasted Pumpkin Spice Safety Data Sheet
Contains hazard pictogram with the following warnings:
Causes skin irritation. Causes serious eye irritation. May cause an allergic skin reaction.
Wash face, hands and any exposed skin thoroughly after handling. Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection. Avoid breathing dust/fume/gas/mist/vapors/spray. Contaminated work clothing should not be allowed out of the workplace.
Mixtures have not been tested for health hazards.
During fire, gases hazardous to health may be formed. Do not allow run-off from fire fighting to enter drains or water courses.
Do not allow it to enter into soil/subsoil. Do not allow it to enter into surface water or drains. Dispose of in accordance with local regulations. Local authorities should be advised if significant spillage cannot be contained.
And finally, we get to the disclosed chemicals section:
- Benzyl benzoate
- Ethyl vanillin
- Ethyl maltol
- Butylated hydroxytoluene
- Cinnamyl alcohol
- Methyl cinnamate
- Acetyl propionyl
You have to have a chemistry degree to understand these ingredients, but here are some of our favorite takeaways:
- Benzyl Benzoate is also used to treat lice and scabies infections.
- Ethyl vanillin and Maltol are synthetic flavoring agents.
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene is a lab made chemical used as a food preservative. It is also used to treat gential herpes.
- 2-Hydroxy-4-(octyloxy)benzophenone is an UV absorber.
- Eucalyptol is used in many brands of mouthwash and cough suppressants.
After taking a look at this ingredient list, we would understand if you don’t feel as warm and comfortable as you did before with your Pumpkin Spice candle. Surely, an Apple Cider candle must be better?
Unfortunately, no. Just as there is no 100% natural pumpkin essential oil, there also isn’t a 100% natural apple essential oil either.
Apple Harvest Safety Data Sheet
Let’s take a look at the same candle ingredient supplier’s Apple Harvest fragrance.
Here is how they describe their delightful fall favorite:
This fragrance is infused with natural essential oils, including cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, orange, and cedarwood.
Top: Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Nutmeg
Base: Clove, Vanilla
Here is what they don’t tell you, but instead, lies hidden in the Safety Data Sheet. This fragrance has a signal word of Danger, with many of the same cautions as the Pumpkin Spice oil had. The Apple and Pumpkin fragrances share many of the same fragrance chemicals, but the Apple Harvest has a few others that sound like an even more complex lab experiment.
- 2-tert-Butylcyclohexyl acetate 3-Phenyl-1-propanol
- Allyl hexanoate
- 1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta[g]-2-benzopyran-synthetic musk that the EPA designated(HHCB) as a high priority chemical in December 2019 and the chemical is currently undergoing risk evaluation.
- 2,4-dimethylcyclohex-3-ene-1-carbaldehydeCyclohexanecarboxylic acid, 2,2,6-trimethyl-, ethyl ester, (1R,6S)-rel
Now that you see a fraction of the disclosed ingredients, you can decide if you want to burn it in your home!
Essential Oils for 100% Natural Fall Scents
There are many things to look for when trying to find a truly non-toxic fall candle. It is important to remember that there is no natural way to make a Pumpkin or apple candle. However, you still have natural options with many essential oils. For Fall, we highly recommend essential oil blends containing cinnamon oils, clove oils, and other spices. Until candles and air fresheners are required to have their ingredients disclosed on their labels, the only way to play it safe is with pure essential oils, and with companies that are independently certified as safe and nontoxic through third party verification like MADE SAFE and EWG.
We’ve carefully selected all of the ingredients in our candles and only work with trusted suppliers. Our candles are simple: they’re made from hand-poured beeswax and coconut oil, 100% pure essential oils, and wooden wicks. No synthetic fragrances, no petroleum byproducts, and no toxins. Better yet, Fontana candles are the first to be MADE SAFE certified!
Shop our collection of non-toxic fall and winter holiday candles to find the perfect scent for your home or gift for a loved one!