Candles that use paraffin wax are dangerous for birds because they produce smoke that is especially unhealthy for birds to inhale. Soy and beeswax candles with lead-free wicks are the item of choice for bird-owners who still wish to light candles. However, these are often unscented.

I am interested in purchasing soy candles that are scented using natural oils. Would these be harmful to my bird?

UPDATE I emailed the company asking what fragrance oils they used. Understandably, they did not tell me the exact oils (as I'm sure they want to keep their recipe secret), but they did tell me some of their oils contain phthalates. Is this harmful?

2 Answers 2


Is It Safe?

Currently there are no long term studies on the effects of essential oils in birds. As you know birds have a very sensitive respiratory system which makes the general recommendation for scents/vapors a no go. I would be hesitant to use them until more concrete evidence supports that essential oils work and are safe for birds. How oils are processed and what additives have been added are for the most part unknown which makes it risky.

Alternative Options

If you're looking for a safe way to make your house smell fresh there are other safe options:


Flower essence oils are safe, as they are commonly used in herbal remedies for birds or are added to foods and supplements. Lavender essence oil, dandelion and chamomile for example are 3 that I know for sure are safe. Orange essence oil is also a safe one, and is commonly added to seed diet foods for scent and flavor. i can update this answer with additional flower and fruit oils that are safe.

  • Thanks for your answer. I just updated my question to reflect that the oils may contain phthalates. Do you know if this will be a problem?
    – jackwise
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 14:07
  • Not 100% sure, but doesn't sound like a natural oil, if that's in it. I will look into that specific ingredient/chemical and see what I find. They have very sensitive respiratory systems, and my theory is "when in doubt, throw it out", but knowledge is power, so I'll see what I find.
    – Christy B.
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 3:07
  • Phlatates is a chemical commonly found in plastics and are used specifically in candles to harden the wax and or to thicken oils. It's also a dissolvant... a pretty powerful additive for our little babies, not something they are naturally exposed to. I'd say not a good idea, could progressively over time cake and thicken in lung walls.
    – Christy B.
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 3:13
  • After further speaking with the candle seller, he told me that only 1 candle scent contained phthalates, and in order to be as safe as possible he would reformulate it to exclude the particular scent that contained them. So I'm no longer worried about those.
    – jackwise
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 12:47
  • Safe for consumption is not the same as safe for inhalation, though, especially given how sensitive birds' respiratory systems are. Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 17:32

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