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Lighting candles could be good for your heart!

Inhaling candle smoke has a positive effect on how the heart regulates its rhythm, according to a study at Lund University in Sweden.1 Variability in heart frequency increases when someone inhales candle smoke, even at relatively low indoor concentrations, the study finds.

The researchers are not certain exactly why candles have this impact, but guess that it is due to salts of sodium and potassium in the smoke, which are generated when the flame does not flicker.

The candle smoke studies were performed in the aerosol chamber of the Department of Design Sciences. Here, test subjects were exposed to candle smoke particles under supervision. The purpose was to study how the particles affect us long before we become aware of any physical effects. Heart rate variability was one of the biological markers investigated.

“We haven’t found anything to indicate that calmly burning pure stearin candles is unhealthy. On the contrary”, says Christina Isaxon, the doctoral student in Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology behind the study.

Screen shot 2014-04-30 at 12.26.15

Christina Isaxon (Lund University, Sweden)

Inger Hagerman, consultant cardiologist at Karolinska Institute, who has collaborated with Christina Isaxon, notes that the heart needs to have a good balance between sodium and potassium salts in order to maintain a proper rhythm regulation.

“What is particularly interesting is that we have seen a positive effect on the part of the autonomous nervous system that is connected to better heart health”, says Dr Hagerman.

Ms. Isaxon has also carried out measurements of particles in residential dwellings, and has shown that the majority of our activities indoors generate particles that strongly affect our indoor air.

“So far, it is not totally clear how these particles affect our bodies,” cautions Ms. Isaxon. In her future research, she will investigate the properties of the candle particles that can explain the positive cardiovascular effects, and how other particle sources indoors can affect our health.


1. Isaxon C (PhD Student). Aerosol characterization in real life and a methodology for human exposure studies in controlled chamber settings. Lund University 2014. Available from

Published on: April 30, 2014

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