Consumers are shifting toward healthier products in many areas of life, including the candles they burn. Choosing a cleaner-burning wax for candles provides an option for anyone looking to limit toxins and reduce allergens in their home.
Candelilla wax is the healthiest option for candles. This is a naturally occurring substance that burns clean and involves very little processing, reducing any contaminants that could go into the wax and, eventually, the air. This wax is also safe for anyone with bee-related allergies.
Candelilla wax is not the end-all for healthy wax options, but it is at the top of the list for human health and environmental friendliness. Keep reading to learn about this unique candle wax, as well as explore the health benefits and risks of other candle wax options.
Candelilla Wax: The Healthiest Wax for Candles
Candelilla wax comes from candelilla shrubs (Euphorbia antisyphilitica) found in Mexico and the southwestern United States. These plants do not have branches, but they have rodlike stems that produce the wax naturally.
Most other waxes, such as soy wax, start as oil and need to go through a hydrolyzation process because they can become wax. While this process is generally safe, it does open up more opportunities for toxicity.
Instead, candelilla wax is harvested by boiling the plant in water and scooping out the wax that separates and floats to the surface.
Candlella wax is ethically sourced. While options like palm wax (carnauba wax) are harvested in a similar way, palm production is a major contributor to worldwide deforestation.
This is the most ethical, healthiest wax option without animal byproducts or derived products. It is odorless, making it a great choice for anyone sensitive to scents, and those with allergies will not have an adverse reaction to this option.
Candle makers tend to avoid candelilla wax because its higher density makes it hard to use, but when blended with other natural materials it becomes easier to manage. When manufactured properly, candelilla oil will burn without toxins and emit the least amount of soot.
Other Healthy Candle Waxes
Candelilla wax is not a simple wax to work with, and it can be difficult to locate wax and find safe materials to blend it with. Other options like beeswax and soy wax are still relatively safe, but there are concerns for each type.
Natural beeswax and soy wax candles can be made to serve a variety of health concerns as well, giving them an advantage over candelilla wax candles that are better off with minimal additives.
Beeswax candles are often considered the healthiest choice if candelilla wax is not an option. This type of wax is a naturally occurring material secreted by bees, and it picks up honey, pollen, and propolis in the hive.
There are several ways for beeswax to be harvested, some considered more ethical than others, and people who lead vegan lifestyles often avoid any products with beeswax in them.
Beekeepers will melt any wax they collect and filter it to remove impurities before it is used for candles. While you can blend beeswax with other materials; the only way to unlock all the health benefits is with 100% beeswax.
These types of candles have several benefits. When burned properly, they do not drip, and they produce far less soot than other candle options. While they are more expensive, they can last 3 times as long as a soy candle of the same size.
When it is burned, beeswax will produce negative ions that attach onto toxins in the air and drag them down. This reduces allergens in the air and can help treat symptoms of allergies and asthma.
Beeswax candles have a natural honey smell, and they are often a golden color. Because the wax comes from the bee’s body. Anyone with a bee allergy can be irritated by the burning of these candles.
While soy wax does not have the same benefits as beeswax, is it still a healthier option for candles. Soy wax is the most readily available of healthy candle wax options; and it tends to have a much lower cost of production.
Soy wax is a vegetable wax, and it is often a blend of hydrogenated soy, palm, and coconut oils. It burns slower than mass-produced paraffin wax candles, so you can expect burn time to increase by about 50 percent.
Soy wax candles produce slightly more soot than beeswax or candelilla wax varieties; but they are still considered a cleaner burning option. They are also pretty cool when burning; there is little risk of burning your hand with wax or ruining flooring or furniture if the candle spills.
The key to keeping soy wax candles clean is by using a blend that is all or primarily soy. Avoid wax blends with paraffin, and try to keep your source as organic and ethical as possible.
Candle Waxes to Avoid
Candelilla wax, beeswax, and soy wax are the top three choices for healthy candle options. And there are several similar materials that you might consider. Understanding which materials should be avoided is more effective than listing every off-the-wall wax option out there.
Candles made from synthetic waxes or gel pose the largest threat. These candles also tend to be cheaper, but they burn faster and hotter.
Paraffin wax or gel candles are known to release more toxins in the air as they burn. Creating unsafe breathing conditions and causing allergies or asthma symptoms to flare up.
While the effects of these candles are not widely studied. They contain harmful chemicals like toluene, xylene, and formaldehyde that are known carcinogens. The fine particles in soot alone are enough to agitate the lungs and body.
Paraffin candles are the most available option for mass production, and they can be found pretty much anywhere. A closer look at how paraffin wax is made reveals why this option is so cheap.
Paraffin wax is a byproduct of oil purification. As oil is processed, paraffin wax is removed and then processed for its own uses.
Even without considering environmental impacts, paraffin wax candles are best kept at arm’s length. Researchers have not been looking at the effects of burning paraffin wax for long, but there are several studies urging against its use.
Paraffin wax candles emit harmful fumes that are linked to asthma and lung cancer, and the emissions can irritate the skin and respiratory tract in non-ventilated spaces.
These candles produce more soot than other varieties that leave carbon residue on walls, ceilings, and furniture, potentially causing damage for years to come.
Paraffin wax burns hotter than other varieties, and a spill can spell damage for furniture or flooring. Accidentally spilling hot wax on skin can easily lead to an emergency room visit.
Gel candles are a newer product, and they come in a variety of decorative containers. Some gel candles will have small items embedded in them for more visual appeal.
The gel in these candles is also petroleum based, and it poses the same threat as paraffin wax.
Gel candles use a different type of oil for fragrance, increasing risk to health and livelihood. This oil must be completely oil soluble, and improper manufacturing can cause highly flammable pockets of oil to collect.
Gel candles may burn twice as long as wax candles, but they are known to flare up over time and have a greater chance of causing a house fire. The unstable material can also shatter glass containers as the gel heats and expands.
Scented Candle Wax vs. Plain
Most people burn candles to release a certain fragrance in their home, but when looking for the healthiest wax options, you should keep them unscented.
Fragrance oils can cause a candle to not burn as clean because they soften up the wax. This puts more soot in the air.
Beyond this, many fragrance oils also contain carcinogens and other questionable ingredients. These are released into the air as the candle burns, regardless of the type of wax you use.
You should always do your research to find the healthiest options and protect the integrity of the candles you make. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but taking steps in the right direction will pay off.
What kind of candlewick is healthiest?
Wood wicks are regarded as the healthiest option. They burn lower, produce less soot, and do not build up carbon the same way that cotton wicks do. Wicks with wire should be avoided because they can introduce additional contaminants to the air as they burn.
How does container size affect clean candle burning?
If a container is too tall for the candle, it can limit proper oxygen supply. Because oxygen is not reaching the flame properly, the candle will often produce more soot and contaminants into the air. Wider, shorter candles are less likely to run into this problem, but they often require additional wicks.
Are wax melts healthier than candles?
Generally speaking, wax melts are healthier than candles because they do not have the same opportunity to burn and release soot into the air. Wax melts are preferred by some allergy sufferers because of this, and then tend to be easier on the sinuses and lungs.
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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.