Candles release smoke, fragrances, soot, and trace chemicals into the air. Budgies have delicate air sacs and lungs, so this can impact their respiratory system, especially in a poorly-ventilated room.
Never keep budgies in the same room as candles, especially colored, scented, and synthetic varieties.
Birds’ respiratory systems react adversely to smoke, soot, fragrances, and pollutants. Paraffin wax candles are toxic to budgies, leading to severe illness or sudden death.
If you own budgies and want to burn candles, the room should be well-ventilated, and the wick should be trimmed to produce less smoke.
Only choose beeswax or soy wax candles, as these have the least amount of additives or synthetic compounds. All candles produce fumes and VOCs, which is unavoidable.
Are Candles Bad For Budgies?
Most types of candles are bad for budgies.
Whether candles will have a toxic effect on your budgie depends on the following factors:
- Wax type
- Wick type
- Smoke and soot level
- Color additives
According to Environmental Science and Pollution Research, candles are an air pollutant. Candles release toxins, no matter how natural or safe they’re considered.
Budgies have sensitive respiratory systems. Even the fumes of air fresheners, aftershave, perfume, fire-wood stoves, and non-stick cookware can harm budgies.
Owners should avoid introducing any toxins, fumes, or strong smells into the air.
Paraffin is the main reason bird owners are wary of candles. Most modern candles are created from paraffin wax, which is made from petroleum.
According to South Carolina State University, paraffin wax releases dangerous chemicals into the air. Toluene and benzene are among the most harmful chemicals.
According to the Bayreuth of Environmental Research, not all candles release enough toxins to damage human health. However, budgies have a respiratory system that’s far more delicate than our own.
Because of how their lungs and air sacs function, they inhale twice as much oxygen with each breath, so they also inhale double the air pollutants and toxins.
All types of candles contain chemicals.
Even natural, plant-based candles have them, including beeswax. To be used as a candle, beeswax must be processed since raw wax is difficult to work with. Also, it won’t burn as well as processed candle wax.
Processing doesn’t always make candles more toxic. All candles release VOCs and particulate matter, which is a consequence of burning any compound.
VOCs refer to any compounds that turn into a gas at room temperature. Particulate matter is anything that’s either a solid or liquid found in the air, including dust, smoke, and soot.
A high level of VOCs in the air is harmful to budgies, so it’s important to lower the levels. This can be achieved with natural beeswax candles instead of paraffin.
All candles release fumes, even if plant-based. Regardless of what produced it, breathing in too much smoke is damaging to budgies. So, you need to minimize the amount of smoke candles release.
Are Scented Candles Bad for Budgies?
No studies confirm or deny if scented candles are harmful to budgies. However, most owners adopt a “better safe than sorry” mentality about scented candles.
Scented candles may be harmful because they contain:
Owners should avoid incense or diffusing essential oils around budgies because it releases a strong odor. The number of VOCs will also be high in essential oils that are:
- Highly concentrated
- Diffused regularly
- Synthetic additives
According to PharmPress, even low concentrations of essential oils can adversely affect humans. For example, diffusing tea tree oil can lead to lung irritation in humans.
Essential oils may contain additives. These extra chemicals keep the oil cheap while retaining its smell. Sadly, they can be harmful when inhaled by birds.
Fragrance oils are more harmful than essential oils. The main difference is that fragrance oils contain chemicals to add to scent, while essential oils use plant compounds.
As they’re synthetic, fragrance oils are more likely to contain compounds that can irritate budgies’ lungs and air sacs.
Safe Candles for Budgies
The key to burning candles around budgies is limiting the amount of VOCs, and there are candles designed to release much smaller amounts.
Specifically, these candles are made of wax from natural, plant-based sources, such as:
- Coconut wax
- Palm wax
- Vegetable wax
- Soy wax
Among the natural alternatives, the most common are soy and beeswax candles, which are considered to produce the lowest amount of toxins.
Are Soy Candles Safe For Budgies?
Soy candles are a natural alternative to paraffin candles. Soy wax is made from soybean oil.
To make soy wax, beans are cleaned, opened, and hulled. Then, they’re put under rollers to be flattened and turned into flakes. The byproduct of these rolled beans is soybean oil.
The oil is extracted from the flakes and undergoes a process called hydrogenation. This process changes the chemical composition of the oil so that it can stay solid at room temperature.
Because there are no synthetic chemicals involved in this process, your budgie won’t be inhaling pollutants. Burning the candles still produces VOCs, but they’ll be more limited.
Soy candles release less smoke and soot into the air, which is why budgies get sick from candles.
Are Beeswax Candles Safe For Budgies?
Even in the Medieval Age, beeswax candles were considered ideal, as they produced the least smoke. Unfortunately, beeswax was hard to produce, so it was only ever used by the rich and noble.
In the modern-day, beeswax continues to be one of the cleanest candles. Barring additives like colors and scents, beeswax will produce few VOCs and less smoke.
Beeswax is gathered from the combs that bees create to store their honey supply. When an apiarist gathers it, the combs are put into a centrifuge to remove all the wax.
Apiaries boil the wax to remove impurities and ensure that it’s safe for use. This means that pure beeswax has no additives or toxins that will harm budgies.
Since it burns slowly, the amount of smoke and soot will be far more limited.
How To Pick Candles Safe for Budgies
If you decide to burn candles, the following precautions should be taken:
Beeswax or Soy Wax
Select a plant-based wax candle, ideally beeswax or soy. These types of natural wax will burn slowly and cleanly, producing fewer airborne toxins.
Unscented or Pure Essential Oils
Ideally, pick an unscented candle, as this will lower the number of compounds released into the air. If you require a fragrance, use diluted 100% pure essential oils in a well-ventilated room.
Uncolored candle wax releases fewer compounds in the air because coloring is often derived from chemicals, additives, or synthetic dyes. If you must use colored candles, use those with vegetable dyes.
Some wicks contain lead in the center so that the wick can stand up straight and burn more efficiently. However, exposure can cause lead poisoning, especially in birds.
The U.S. has banned the production and import of lead wicks, but alternatives are available. To ensure your budgie inhales the least amount of VOCs, only purchase 100% cotton wicks.
All candles will release soot, but it can be reduced.
To achieve this, do the following:
- Light candles in a well-ventilated area
- Trim candle wicks to 3/4 of an inch
- Use taper-style candles or votives
- Avoid candles in a jar or containers that trap wax
- Avoid scented or colored candles
- Use a candle snuffer or dip the candle in wax to extinguish it
As long as candles are made of all-natural wax and produce little smoke, your budgie will be unaffected. However, we recommend not lighting candles in any room with avian companions.