If you’ve got a pet at home, dealing with odors is probably routine by now! One of the ways in which you may choose to dispel pet and any other unsavory odors is by turning to wax melts.
However, given that you have a pet around, is it safe to be using wax melts? Are they safe for pets and should you go ahead and use these, or should you be looking at alternatives?
Here’s what you need to know.
Are Wax Melts Safe?
If you’ve been a pet parent for a while now, you know that your furry companion is highly sensitive to smell and reacts to scents differently than humans. The same applies to wax melts—though these smell amazing to our noses, they can be quite harmful to pets.
Here’s how wax melts can be harmful to your pets:
Just like any other product that contains fragrances, wax melts could harm your four-legged fur baby with the many organic and inorganic compounds in it.
For example, benzene, a colorless and flammable liquid, is commonly used in most perfumes and fragrant products for its sweet smell. While the smell of this natural liquid (emitted even when the candle isn’t burning) is highly tantalizing to us, it can cause respiratory distress in your pet.
Wax melts also commonly use paraffin wax, which can release harmful chemicals such as phthalates, lead, and formaldehyde when burned. These can have negative impacts on a dog’s health by causing damage to the central nervous system and instigating respiratory issues.
Essential Oil Allergies and Toxicity
Additionally, your pet may be allergic to the essential oils used to give the wax melts their alluring fragrance. These allergens, found on the melts themselves, can also hitch a ride on the product’s packaging. Essential oils can irritate your pet’s nasal and oral passages as well as breathing trouble.
Some essential oils, such as cinnamon, pennyroyal, citrus, pine, peppermint, tea tree, wintergreen, and sweet birch, can even be downright toxic.
Unsafe Wax Warmers and Equipment
In addition to the ingredients, the wax warmers may themselves produce problems. These warmers can create soot, and if you have a cat around, you know that no spot for your wax warmer is inaccessible to the feline!
Cats can easily jump onto any surface and reach the warmer no matter where it is, leading to risks of burning or the warmer being pushed over and hot wax raining down on you! Additionally, cats are more sensitive to essential oils and scents than dogs.
Ingestion of Wax
Ingesting wax melts, either by eating it or trying to lick it off themselves if they’ve spilled wax on themselves, can be harmful to pets, inducing an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. Immediate medical attention is necessary in such cases.
Additionally, if the wax is still hot when the pet grooms itself, it can severely burn its tongue when trying to get the wax off its body.
However, doing away with these potentially harmful ingredients and finding safe alternatives can make wax melts safe for pets.
How Wax Melts Can Be Made Safe for Pets
A few measures can make wax melts safe for your furball:
Soy Wax Melts
Unlike paraffin, which is a by-product of producing petroleum and contains several harmful carcinogens and toxins, soy wax is a completely natural material that’s much safer for both you and your pet.
Coconut wax and beeswax are also safe, sustainable alternatives.
Read the Label
To qualify as a beeswax/coconut wax/soy wax product, the wax melts only need to have 51% of these materials. The rest can still be paraffin, which is why it’s essential to go through the ingredients list before buying any scented product (and yes, food-grade paraffin is still paraffin, even if it is certified safe).
Additionally, the concentration of ingredients and the ingredients themselves, when combined, can cause irritation and even poison your pet, so always read the label.
Moderation Is Key
Try to limit your use of fragrant products, including wax melts, if you have a pet at home. While it may be great to have your room continuously smelling like a Jo Malone showroom, your pet’s not going to enjoy this very much.
Most pets aren’t affected by short periods of exposure to fragrances, but longer periods can trigger asthma (especially in cats), coughing, and sneezing.
Monitor Your Pet
Your pets may not be able to talk, but that doesn’t mean they can’t communicate. When using wax melts, monitor your pet’s behavior to see if anything seems off.
Any erratic behavior or your pet leaving the room or avoiding you because you’ve bathed yourself in a new scent are signs that the fragrance isn’t sitting well with them and your cue to turn off the warmer.
Choosing the Right Warmer
Ensure that the warmer you’re choosing for your melts is electric/flameless so that no soot is produced and the chances of your pet accidentally burning itself or intentionally burning down the rest of the house (cats—are we right?) are almost zero!
Additionally, look for touch-friendly warmers that heat up just enough to melt the wax but not burn off your or your pet’s skin.
Apart from this, ensuring that the warmer is smoke-free will drastically reduce the number of toxins, soot, and chemicals that are released into the air and inhaled by your pets, harming them in the long run.
Look for wax melts that use pet-safe essential oils, such as jasmine, rose, cedar, chamomile, tangerine, frankincense, and lemongrass.
In addition to the oils listed earlier, avoid any oil that contains linalool as this is toxic to pets. Even though oils with this compound are pet safe when used in weak concentrations and small amounts, it’s not worth the risk as they can be extremely toxic when ingested.
Buying Pet-Safe Wax Melts: Some brands, such as Nuscents, produce calming, pet-friendly wax melts that both you and your furball can enjoy. Look for such brands and get your stock of wax melts from them.
However, don’t blindly give the brand the benefit of the doubt—looking at the ingredients to double-check the product’s safety is non-negotiable, whatever the circumstance.
What If My Pet Eats Wax Melts?
As mentioned earlier, the consumption of wax melts can be dangerous to your pet, regardless of whether it’s paraffin or soy.
If your pet ends up snacking on wax melts, act fast. Dizziness, tottering, and an unsteady gait are some of the signs that your pet’s been in spots it shouldn’t have been in and eaten things it shouldn’t have eaten.
Try to get any remaining wax out of your furry friend’s mouth. Make sure you move away the wax you’ve just removed, and any other wax within reach, so your pet doesn’t return to snacking on them!
Then, get your pet to the vet. While you can monitor them and see if they’re okay, it’s not worth the risk. When going to see the vet, make sure you roughly figure out how much wax your pet’s eaten and what ingredients are in the melts.
To prevent such accidents from happening, always store your wax melts in a safe spot that’s out of your pet’s reach. This includes removing any used/remaining wax that’s in the warmer. Additionally, never leave your pet unmonitored in the room when the wax warmer is in use or contains any wax, leftover or otherwise.
The Bottom Line
When using wax melts around your pet, be extremely cautious and vigilant. Make sure that you’re using the right product and equipment, as things could go downhill very quickly if you don’t.
If the intention behind using wax melts is to get rid of bad odors, it’s best to completely avoid wax melts. Opt, instead, for alternatives such as natural sprays, incense sticks, etc., that are friendlier to pets. However, ensure that even with these, you pick out pet-friendly options/regular products with pet-safe ingredients.