Why is Paraffin Wax So Harmful to Birds?

There’s no shortage of reasons why people love burning candles — they serve as natural air fresheners, unique decorations, and effective stress relievers all at once. However, while they offer many advantages to people, these products might not be healthy for your pet parrot. Paraffin wax, a substance that most avian vets agree is dangerous for birds, is, unfortunately, present in most candles. Read on to learn more about paraffin and how to find avian-safe candle wax alternatives.

What Is Paraffin Wax?

Paraffin wax is a soft type of wax that lacks color, odor, and taste. It’s found in a wide range of items, including:

  • Pain relief products
  • Electrical insulation
  • Lubrication
  • Crayons

Paraffin is also a central ingredient found in many wax warmers and candles. With a relatively low melting point between 115 and 154 ºF, it’s known to burn pretty quickly — that’s why many manufacturers add a product called stearic acid, which can increase the burn time. Paraffin wax is also sometimes mixed with fragrance oils to create scented candles.

Why Is Paraffin Wax Dangerous For Birds?

While paraffin wax candles may work fine for the average household, they’re not ideal if you have pet birds in your home. When burned, paraffin releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as acetone, benzene, and toluene. These substances are then left to linger in the air, where they can negatively affect your bird’s breathing abilities. Potential side effects of inhaling toxic fumes include:

  • Shaking
  • Wobbly legs
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty breathing

You might be wondering: why isn’t paraffin wax harmful to humans? This is primarily due to the difference in our respiratory systems. Unlike people, parrots and other birds rely on air capillaries (located in the lungs) to ingest oxygen. This system allows oxygen to quickly enter the bloodstream, which is useful for flights. On the downside, it makes birds more vulnerable to toxins in the air. If you have reason to believe your pet bird has inhaled toxins, it’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

What Other Harmful Ingredients Are In Candles?

Paraffin wax is not the only common candle ingredient that isn’t avian-safe. Other potentially dangerous substances include:

  • Essential oils: Many essential oils, often found in scented candles, are toxic to parrots. For instance, tea tree and eucalyptus oils can cause temporary blindness in birds.
  • Lead core wicks: While most candles use cotton wicks, some might have lead core wicks instead (especially imported candles). When burned, they release lead into the air, which is toxic to birds.
  • Artificial fragrances: Although artificially scented candles might smell great, they often contain chemicals that can be harmful to your bird’s health. Not only can they interfere with breathing, but they may also cause cancer in parrots.

Despite the dangers associated with candles, there are plenty of avian-safe alternatives available. Of course, it’s important to only trust reputable brands. It’s easy to assume that a candle made with soy wax or beeswax is toxin-free — however, even soy candles and beeswax candles may contain paraffin in the mix.

Where Can I Find Avian-Safe Candles?

If you’re looking for high-quality candles that are 100% safe for your pet parrot, then our team is here to help. We offer an assortment of candles and parrot-safe wax melts for sale, all of which are clean-burning and free of any toxic chemicals. We also feature a line of parrot-safe fall scented candles which include:

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Warm cinnamon
  • Winter pine
  • And more!

Our goal is to bring you all the benefits of a traditional candle without any of the negative health effects. Light up your home and protect your parrot by placing an order today!

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