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  QUESTION: Emission statistics for lead in IKEA candle wicks, 28 Jan 2006, California USA
I am curious if my recent purchases of candles from IKEA, a Swedish mega department store in Stanford, California exposes my 10 year old daughter to lead.
1. Candle sticks (1 inch diameter, 7 inches long).
2. "tea candle", which is candle encased in a 1.5 inch metal disk about half inch thick.
3. Scented candle encased in glass jars.
Your answer to my questions will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
ANSWER: 28 Jan 2006

Dear Frank,
There is a fact sheet available on our website dedicated to information on how you may test for lead in the wick of a candle. This page is available at The following is a quotation from the page that illustrates a method by which you may test whether a candle wick has been made from lead:
"Candles which potentially have a lead wick core can only be confirmed by laboratory testing but any metal wick core is very likely to contain some lead. You can tell if there is a metal core inside the fabric sheath of the wick by looking for a darkish line in the white wick or by poking through the outer sheath with a sharp needle to reveal the metal. The metal is very fine. If the wick has already been burnt, poking with a needle you might still be able to "feel" the metal filament or you may be able to turn the candle upside-down and inspect the wick from the base of the candle."
It would be very useful for you to access the page and look at some examples of how a leaded wick in the core of a candle would look.
Looking at the IKEA US website, it appears that all the wicks in their candles are made of cotton, and are lead free and free from impurities.
A very valuable article that analyses candles in Denmark, including those imported by IKEA from Sweden, describes how the manufacturer DANLUX manufactures candle wicks for the Swedish company IKEA, one of their main customers: "2.4 Visit at the foundry of candles Danlux
To get a glimpse of how candles are produced we paid a visit to managing director Kurt Hall Jųrgensen and manager Jens Lundsgaard, Danlux A/S in Helsingųr, Denmark
Danlux has 30 employees and manufactures approx. 900 tonnes of candles per year. The candles are made of paraffin, dipped by hand, fully dyed, and have an self-extinguish mechanism. The length of the candles varies from 8 to 23 cm, and the thickness from 8 to 23 mm. The candles are manufactured in all colours with a colour content of 0.2 to 0.5%. Almost the entire production is exported. It was brought to Institute's attention that IKEA is one of their main customers.
Their raw materials come from the following companies:
Wax: Terhell-Paraffin 5803 with a melting point of 58°C and a residue content of oil at 0.34 %, from Schümann Sasol (Waxmann).
Wick: Cotton wicks without heavy metals and impurities, from Erich Henschke (Dansk Voksfabrik).
Glue: Danafix glue (self-extinguisher) made of water-based polyvinyl alcohol and polyvinyl acetate, from Dana Lim.
Colorants: Special colorants for candles, from Bekro Chemie (Mercantos). The colorants are tested according to TSCA requirements and do not contain toxic substances."

 Furthermore, "The wicks are placed on a rack, which is primarily immersed into glue (self-extinguisher). Then the racks are placed on a roundabout, which leads the wicks through four phases. Phase 1 is to attach/detach and air-dry the wicks. Phase 2 is cooling (10-15°C) in tanks filled with water. Phase 3 is the wax tank at approx. 100°C. In this tank, the length and cone of the candles (shape) are controlled. Phase 4 is the wax tank at approx. 66 to 70°C. In this tank, paraffin is added. The candles go through the four phases about 24 times before they are end products. To ensure that the candles do not bend when exposed to heating (e.g. sunlight) the candles are finally immersed into a microwax with a high melting point. After the completion the candles are removed from the machines and detached for cooling before they are packed. " (page 16)
The study also conducted several tests on candle samples, but did not indicate from which manufacturer or store the samples were collected. One test tested for the determination of selected heavy metals in the wax and the wick. The analyses were made by using FI-ICP-MS (Flow Injection Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) to indicate whether there was a content of heavy metals e.g. lead, tin, zinc, copper etc. in the wax or wick of the candles. The tests evaluated both source strength and emission strength. The estimated averages were conducted to establish results for 24-hour air lead levels.

Danish Environmental Protection Agency

In a white stearine candle, the source strength emission of lead in the wick was below 0.2 µg/m3
In a tea candle, the source strength emission of lead in the wick was again below 0.2 µg/m3
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) US states that the maximum ambient air guideline for lead emissions is 1.5 µg/m3
These guidelines are publicised in a letter to the Chairperson Anne Brown, US Consumer Product Safety Commission, written February 24 2000 by Peter Lurie, MD, MPH, and Deputy Director Sidney M. Wolfe, MD Director, and Howard L. Sobel, M.D., M.P.H, M.S. Research Associate, of Public Citizen's Health Research Group.
This letter is available as an article at the website "Petition to Ban Lead-Wick Candles February 24, 2000." Included is a 6/8/00 letter updating some other statistics you may find. (HRG Publication #1510).
Josephine Tesoriero,
Volunteer Information Officer

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