Candles came about out of the simple need for light. The most common types of candles were made from animal fat (imagine the smell). Eventually, people found that burning beeswax and spermaceti (oil in the head cavities of sperm whales) produced a much brighter flame than animal fat. The burning of a spermaceti candle was bright enough that it was used to create the standard measure of light, hence, one candle power. Bayberries were used at one time to produce wax and are what probably gave rise to scented candles.
WHY NOT PARAFFIN?
Harmful to breathe – They release far more soot into the air when burning. The soot contains 11 known toxins of which 2 of those are carcinogenic. The Environmental Protection Agency has produced a report validating the possible dangers of breathing this soot.
Not a renewable resource – Petroleum is a natural resource and is not renewable. Paraffin starts as the grayish black sludge that oozes from the backside refineries. The substance is bleached, creating dioxins, is then proof the petroleumcessed and texturized using carcinogenic chemicals, colored with synthetic colorants and artificially scented.
Cost – More expensive to burn than beeswax or soy. Beeswax costs only pennies an hour to burn, whereas paraffin costs upwards of a dollar and hour to burn because it burns so quickly because of its intensely high heat. This also makes burning the candles more dangerous.
Lead in wicks – Many candles are still being sold with wicks containing lead.
Oil based – Much harder to clean up.
Black Soot – These complaints have risen significantly since 1992 and the number of lawsuits from soot damaging home items is rising every year. Carpets, walls, ceilings, furniture have all been items listed in claims. The type of soot may vary, although primarily composed of carbon, may contain lead and volatiles such as benzene and toluene. Wax that has more color and fragrance added will give off more soot. Candles placed in containers will also give off more soot as the flame’s air flow is disrupted. Soot can be reduced in paraffin candles by trimming the wick to ¼ in.
Some wicks are made with a metal core and those used to contain lead. The purpose of that is to, of course, produce a hotter flame. The US has banned all wicks containing lead, not sure of Canada. Keep in mind that there are thousands, if not millions of candles imported and who knows what’s in those?
Metal core wicks – They usually contain tin and zinc. Health issues regarding these substances are unclear but generally considered more safe than lead.
The most common of the natural candle wicks are made from 100% cotton or a cotton/paper blend. Some are made from hemp. They burn cleaner and are relatively harmless nor do they create the heat that a metal core will.
THE POSITIVE SIDE TO NEGATIVE IONS
One primary reason for burning beeswax candles is to emit negative ions. All things floating in the air are positively charged. Including dust, pollen, toxic residues, emissions coming from household furnishings, rugs, viruses, germs, etc. Odors from pets, cooking, mould and mildew.
These things represent potential health problems as they float in our air and are being inhaled by us. These toxins are positively charged by many things such as, static electricity, appliances and computers, or from dry "recycled" air from heating systems in our homes.
Scientifically, nature provides an abundance of negative ions to seek out positive ions (dust/toxin carriers) to form a balanced molecule which has a heavier mass. Hence the positive ions no longer float but drop to the ground, creating cleaner air.
All natural wax made by honey bees. They are the most natural candles you can buy, so if there is someone in your home with allergies, they are the safest for them. Naturally scented with the smell of honey typically these candles have no artificial scent added. Beeswax burns cleaner and longer than paraffin. There are a variety of colors from a light white to a dark brown. Over time pure 100% beeswax will go through a process called blooming. This produces a whitish film on the outside of the wax. It can be wiped off with a nylon or simply heat the candle with a blow dryer and the film will disappear. The hand dipped/poured candles will last longer than the sheets you buy. In the sheets, when rolled, too much air is allowed to pass thru the candle when burning, hence a faster burn time. Be sure the candle you are purchasing is 100% beeswax. Snuff the beeswax candle flame, do not blow it out. Blowing it out inhibits proper burning of the candle. Beeswax burns longer and cleaner than paraffin and therefore the price is higher for beeswax.
COLORS & SCENTS
They make your candles look and smell nice and they also release harmful chemicals into your home when burned. A PROBLEM WHEN THERE ARE PET BIRDS IN YOUR HOME (see websites below)!! Are candles safe? The American Lung Association says, "Refrain from burning scented candles or slow burning candles that have additives." They suggest beeswax candles.
REMEMBER: Prime candle season is upon us and the candle burning season happens when we close our houses up the most, winter. There are over 500 cases in the US of the black soot from candles causing damage to furniture, carpets, ceilings, walls.