Are Yankee Candles Safe For Birds? (Safety Tips)

Any bird owner will tell you, having a pet bird is so interesting and exciting. But, like any pet, birds need specific care and attention to make sure they live a happy and healthy life in your home.

With this in mind, many bird owners often wonder about whether or not they could light a candle, and more specifically, a scented candle like a Yankee candle.

As humans, we’re drawn to the wonderous odour and warmth of a scented candle in our home. Yankee candles are one of the most popular and iconic candle brands, and so it would be good to know if they are safe for birds.

A selection of different Yankee candles
Did you know that by burning scented candles like Yankee you could be unintentionally hurting your pet bird?

So, are Yankee candles safe for birds? The short answer is no, in general Yankee candles are not safe for birds. However it really does depend on their ingredients.  Most Yankee candles contain paraffin wax but some now soy wax, which is safer to burn around birds. All Yankee candles contain fragrance oils and some also contain essential oils which can hurt your bird when breathed in.

What is the main ingredient of Yankee candles, and is it safe for birds?

The famous brand Yankee began making candles at the end of the 60s when Massachusetts-based Michael Kittredge decided to melt down some of his wax crayons to make a gift for his mother.

Since that moment, Kittredge grew the brand and turned it into one of the world’s most famous scented candle brands.

Most Yankee candles have paraffin wax as their main ingredient. Unfortunately, even though this is refined paraffin wax that doesn’t produce soot, it is still much more toxic to birds than other natural waxes like soy wax or beeswax.

In terms of their wicks, Yankee candles are good – they are made from cotton and don’t have any lead (like other candles do). Yankee creates their famous scents using essential oils. 

Unlike many other animals, birds don’t have much of a sense of smell. Parrots, kiwis, seabirds, and vultures probably have the best sense of smell and taste compared to other birds.

This doesn’t mean, however, that scented candles don’t affect birds. They have very sensitive respiratory systems, so burning the chemical compounds and essential oils in scented candles can cause irritation. 

The dangers of using scented candles around birds.

While Yankee candles are generally safe to use around cats and dogs, it’s a different story for birds. This is because birds have a very efficient respiratory system, which means that if they breathe in a chemical, it will be absorbed quickly by their bodies. 

If you do want to burn scented candles around birds, the best choices would be beeswax candles and soy candles.

These are much safer than normal paraffin-wax candles – and they’re also much more environmentally friendly. Paraffin wax is made from crude oil, which is a fossil fuel.

Being a non-renewable product means they are not good for the environment and sustainability. What’s more, paraffin is much more toxic and contains cancer-causing substances, which are problematic if they’re ingested. 

Despite being great for us, Yankee candles and other scented candles are no good for birds at all.  

Physical contact with Yankee candles would also be an issue if birds were able to get close. The ingredients in the candle would be toxic if consumed or in contact with the skin. The following essential oils are also very toxic to birds:

  • Peppermint oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Pine oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Arborvitae oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Clove oil
  • Oregano oil
  • Citronella
A photo of some pet birds in a cage
Pet birds are quite popular as are Yankee candles, however the two should not really be mixed for safety.

Do Yankee candles contain essential oils?

Yankee candles use both fragrance oils and essential oils for their scents. You can check out their website online and it will give you a list of fragrance notes for each product.

There are top notes, mid notes and base notes. If you are going to get a Yankee candle, it would be advisable to choose a scent that doesn’t contain any of the essential oils listed above.

Tips to keep your bird safe when burning candles

If you have found a candle that is safe to burn around birds, you also need to consider basic candle safety.

One thing to consider is the location of the candle, both when it is lit and when it isn’t. If your bird is caged most of the time, this is less of a problem, but you would still need to ensure it is a habit to remove candles when you let your bird out of the cage.

Candles are a fire hazard even in a pet-free home. When you have a bird, your risk is even greater.

Therefore, you should make sure that all candles are extinguished whenever you leave a room. 

As we’ve mentioned above, essential oils are harmful to birds, so it’s important to know the signs of poisoning in case this should occur.

As we’ve mentioned, birds are known for their sensitivity to particles and scents in the air. Vets have reported birds being exposed to essential oils and becoming ill, sometimes dying from respiratory failure just hours after exposure.

If your bird starts shaking or trembling or can’t find his footing on the perch, you will need to take him to see an emergency vet as he will need immediate attention. If you get to a vet in good time, they can use equipment like bronchodilators to try and help the bird recover.

To avoid poisoning, you should keep all essential oil-based candles away from your bird even when you are not lighting them.

Unfortunately, since manufacturers tend to focus on testing their products on humans, they don’t really think about pets, especially birds. 

Final thoughts on if Yankee candles are safe for birds

No matter how strong our love for Yankee candles is, our birds probably hate them.

As we’ve seen in this article, birds have a very sensitive respiratory system, despite not having a decent sense of smell. Yankee candles, therefore, are not safe for your pet bird, especially if they are made from paraffin wax like most are. 

Before we end this article, it’s wise to point out that it is not just scented candles that can cause respiratory problems for birds.

Cleaning products, perfumes, and smoke from open fires are also problematic. Even though they have a very poor sense of smell, on the whole, they are very sensitive to fumes and odours.

We can’t deny that no matter how much we love a Yankee candle, we need to first look after our pets’ health if we’re bird owners.

So, to summarise, Yankee candles are not safe for birds, and your pet might come to harm if you burn a Yankee candle when supervising them.

Essentially, it would be best if you avoided anything that could cause a respiratory risk for your bird. If you really need to use strong cleaning products, you should move your bird to another room for their protection

If you enjoyed reading this article maybe you would like to read about how Yankee candles can effect dogs and cats as well.

Andrew Scents and Aroma