Will soy candles affect my soy allergies?

Do you know someone who is allergic to soybeans? It is more common than you think. According to the Asthma and Food Allergy Foundation of America, allergies to soy are among the top nine food allergies for child and adult food allergy patients. Reactions can range from red, itchy skin to anaphylaxis, requiring immediate medical attention with epinephrine.

So if soybeans can cause death in an untreated soy-allergic person, why don’t soy candles carry a warning? The answer is simply because they don’t need it. Wax, whether it be soy, paraffin or beeswax, is very non-reactive and, although someone may be allergic to soy in food, it is the digested protein that triggers the allergy, not the by-products of combustion (mainly carbon dioxide and water). For the allergy to occur, soy must be digested to enter the bloodstream. If it burns, the protein chains are broken and they are no longer the same molecules that could cause the allergy.

However, an allergy made worse by scented soy candles is very common, but is caused by the added fragrance, not the soy wax. No one can predict or determine if you will have a reaction to a particular fragrance. The only way to find out is to light the candle and observe the result. Fragrance materials that are known allergens are not used in the fragrance industry. But, as with food, some people will experience an allergy to a fragrance that the majority of the population does not react to.

The bottom line is that no one should fear that soy wax candles will aggravate their allergy to soy. If you want to be safe, avoid particular fragrances if you have known allergies to them, and if you buy a candle that does bother you, take note of its fragrance and stop using it immediately.

Written by Peter Knepper

September 5, 2020
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