After finishing a day of work, lighting candles in your home signals that it is time to relax. Lit candles and their scents change the ambiance of any room. Candles can make a room festive showing that the celebration is about to start. Or the flickering flames can set the tone for a meditative session. Whatever the mood you are striving to create, you want to make sure that it is a healthy one.
Of the naturally occurring waxes, beeswax candles are the healthiest candles to burn. Other healthy options include vegetable and plant-based waxes. However, other ingredients added to candle waxes can dilute the healthy aspects of burning beeswax or plant-based candles.
There are many options to choose from that will let you safely burn candles without concerns of emitting toxins. It is important to understand the components of candles that could unknowingly be releasing unsafe particles into your air. Continue reading for information on the healthiest candles to burn.
Health Attributes of Different Waxes
Most often candles are lit inside, which can be considered confined spaces. If you are burning candles made from unhealthy waxes, you can be releasing contaminants. Frequent burning of toxic candles can cause these pollutants to collect in the air, in your body, and on your walls.
There are a number of different candle waxes from which you can select to make or purchase candles. Three of the most commonly used waxes are beeswax, soy wax, and paraffin. You can also find wax blends, especially of soy and paraffin that depending upon the percentage used of each wax will change the health attributes you might think you are burning.
Used for candle making for thousands of years, beeswax is an all-natural product. This gives beeswax the reputation for being the healthiest candle wax to burn. Additionally, beeswax does not need to be mixed with other waxes to produce a well-made candle. However, when purchasing beeswax or beeswax candles, check the label. If the label does not note that it is one hundred percent pure, the wax is probably blended with paraffin.
Since beeswax is a by-product of honey making, it cannot be produced in mass quantities. Therefore, they are more expensive to purchase than other waxes. However, beeswax candles last longer, which offsets the initial cost. Some tests estimate that beeswax candles will last almost three times longer than paraffin wax candles.
When beeswax candles are lit, they emit negative ions into the air. Found in nature, negative ions are healthy molecules in the air. These particles are beneficial for people. Attaching to positive ions, or particles with impurities, negative ions can cause the tainted molecules to fall from the air. This helps purify the air of dust, mold, and other pollutants that we would have inhaled.
Resulting from honey making, lit beeswax candles release a sweet aroma of honey. Natural scents in the air can help us relax and recharge ourselves. Beeswax is a hard wax that burns at a high heat. This makes beeswax candles virtually dripless and as close to soot-free as any candle can be.
Another healthy option for candle making or candle use is soy wax. Made from soybean oil, soy wax is a plant-based wax that is a renewable resource. Soybeans can be grown in environmentally friendly ways. However, with the increase of soy in many products, the growth of soybean fields has caused a proliferation of chemical use and reduction of forested land.
Soy wax is a great option for vegans since it is a plant-based wax. Also, since it can be grown in great quantities, it is less expensive than beeswax. One hundred percent soy candles burn efficiently and produce minimal soot. Often one hundred percent soy candles are made in containers or glass vessels since soy is a softer wax.
However, for soy candles to be viewed as a healthy option for burning candles, they do need to be pure soy. Often soy wax is mixed with paraffin wax. Soy wax has a lower melting point. Mixing it with other waxes is done to produce a more solidly made candle. Depending upon what soy is mixed with, its health benefits can quickly diminish. Candles or waxes with fifty-one percent soy, can be labeled as all-soy products. Check your labels.
Paraffin wax is a by-product of the production of crude oil. Before the residue from the petroleum by-product is made into paraffin wax for candles, it goes through rigorous processing. Some of the chemicals that are inherent in petroleum are reduced in the creation of paraffin, not all of the toxins are eliminated.
When paraffin candles are lit, they release impurities into the air. These chemicals being dispersed can include benzene and toluene. Both of these are listed by the EPA and others as known carcinogens. Burning paraffin candles results in soot, which is a carbon residue. You can see this is the dark film on the side of your glass candle container and eventually on your walls.
Since paraffin is relatively inexpensive to make, it is found in the majority of candles in the marketplace. Paraffin is often mixed with other waxes. One reason is cost. Other purposes for mixing paraffin in other blends are because it burns easily and holds colors and scents well.
Another variation of paraffin candles is referred to as gel candles. These are made from petroleum-based waxes or from artificial hydrocarbons. Both of these ingredients pose the same concerns as paraffin candles.
Check your labels before purchasing candles, so you know which type or types of wax you are burning. If the label does not account for one hundred percent of the wax, typically the unnamed balance is paraffin.
Candle Wicks and Healthy Candles
The United States has banned the use of wicks with lead. However, not all countries have done so. Check the country of origin when purchasing your candles. Sometimes if you check the wick, you can see or feel metal in the center. You want to avoid purchasing candles with unknown components, especially if they contain lead.
Making or purchasing candles, it is important to know which size wicks should be used. When candle makers put wicks that are larger than the size of the vessel warrants, the candle burns too hot. Candles that burn at an intense temperature generate particles of soot. Conversely, too small a wick will not burn effectively.
You want to use and purchase candles with cotton or wooden wicks. These do not cause the emission of soot and other particles.
Impact of Fragrances on the Health of Candles
Natural fragrances are made from plants and are nontoxic. However, fragrances used in candles do not need to be natural. When purchasing candles, the label can state that it contains fragrance as part of the ingredients. The manufacturer does not need to expand upon that term.
Artificial fragrances are made from an extensive list of chemicals. Some manufactured scents can contain over 3,000 different components. Some of the ingredients in fragrances include formaldehyde, petroleum extracts, phthalates, and other dangerous chemicals. Once the candle is lit, these chemicals are released into the air.
Look for candles that state they included only one hundred percent naturally occurring essential oils. Essence oils obtained from plants. These oils produce wonderful scents in candles and have other health benefits depending upon the plants used.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are candles made from wax?
Wax is the fuel needed for candles to burn. When the wick is ignited, it heats the wax. Once the wax liquifies, it is absorbed by the wick. During this process, the melted wax evaporates. Vaporized wax burns and keeps the flame ignited.
What does candle wax consist of?
Candle waxes are predominantly composed of hydrocarbons. The molecular structure of hydrocarbons works well for candles because these particles transform from a solid to liquid form without difficulty.
Why do people find the flames from candles relaxing?
The gentle light of a candle’s flame helps soothe people. Flames from candles flicker which also slows us down and lets the body start to unwind. Lit candles in a room create a welcoming and warm environment, which can lead to a state of mindfulness.
Do scented candles help people alleviate stress?
Scented candles, like all scents, can connect us to soothing memories. Selecting candles with scents that you associate with happiness or relaxation can create a mood of tranquility. Recharging your senses with scents that appeal to you and your memories is a great stress reducer.
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Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.
Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.