Waxing Lyrical About Natural Candles

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Natural Candles and Christmas go hand in hand

Yes it’s steadily approaching like a juggernaut. Blissfully unaware this one might be a bit different from all the rest. As it’s likely to be more a staycation than ever before, having your home prepped for peace and tranquillity is surely the plan. And natural candles provide a perfect backdrop to a relaxing Christmas at home.

Did you know that the sense of smell is the most perceptive of all the senses? Remember sawdust from your childhood? Or candy floss? Studies have shown that emotions are sparked by smell, which link up to pleasure centres in our brains. So, when you create memories with loved ones this season, make sure they’re sweet smelling ones!

A well-chosen natural candle can provide you with an oasis of calm. Yet fragrances and candles traditionally set the scene are often some of the biggest chemical culprits!

Scented candles can produce smoke with almost as many toxins as cigarettes!

In 2009, South Carolina State University researchers led an experiment to test the toxin emissions from petroleum-based and vegetable-source candles. Candles are often lit in poorly ventilated rooms. So the researchers wanted to create an experimental environment that reflected this.

Let’s be honest, I think we’ve all had our fill of face masks for one year! And the release of chemicals from candle smoke can cause indoor pollution in small areas. This pollution is strong enough to raise the risk of asthma, eczema and skin irritation. The researchers burned candles from several different brands for up to six hours and analysed the chemical emissions into the air.

What did they find? Well paraffin-based candle smoke contained toxic chemicals such as toluene (a central nervous system toxin) and benzene (a cancer-causing toxin). Paraffin is a cheap sludge waste product produced by the petroleum industry. And it’s often used as the main ingredient in most candles!

Paraffin-based candles are dangerous because they don’t reach high enough temperatures when lit to burn off. This means they don’t fully eliminate the hazardous molecules emitted into the air. Occasional paraffin candle emission is unlikely to pose a great threat to your health. Higher rates of exposure to these emissions, however, is certainly a significant health concern. And the holiday season is often candle burning season.

Beware – it’s more than the wax at fault…

That wicked wick is also to blame! Today, wicks are generally required to be made from pure paper and/or cotton. However, some candles have been found to contain other ingredients such as lead. Older candles we may still have lying around the house are common culprits.

Candle colour matters too…

While colours may help brighten a room, most candle colours are unnatural. When these synthetic colours are burned, they release chemically laden toxins into the air. This creates a doubly dangerous variety of indoor air pollution. Best to stick with mineral based, naturally earth-toned colours.

What to look for in a natural candle

Yes, it IS possible to enjoy beautiful candles and evocative fragrance while setting a joyous holiday scene. Simply avoid these common candle culprits and you’ll be good to glow:

  • Very cheap, low quality candles.
  • Imported candles. It’s best to purchase natural candles made in the U.K. or Europe. They’re more likely to follow our own toxin-free candle legislation.
  • Candles that appear to have a metal-core wick.
  • ANY fragranced or coloured candles unless they are 100% natural candles, scented and pigmented (e.g., beware “aromatherapy” candles, “all natural” candles, etc.). Make sure they list every single ingredient, including what’s used to create the scent.
  • Gel candles.

Significantly, the 2009 studies showed soybean and beeswax candles did not emit toluene and benzene. All-natural beeswax is made by bees and collected directly from their hives. Some beeswax candles are lightly and naturally scented with honey, but some are also scented with essential oils, too. Soybean and coconut oil candles are other excellent, clean, long-burning, toxin-free options.

Read the label, checking for 100% soybean, beeswax or coconut oil as the base.
Protect everyone’s health by selecting truly pure ingredients. Some companies will use only a portion of beeswax or soybean mixed with regular paraffin and still label the candle as beeswax or soybean.

Great candles to get on board with this season…

Flaming Nora are a fabulous brand of soy wax candles – hand-made in Cornwall.

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