Do you love scented candles, but get overwhelmed by the number of choices available, including the prices? You're not alone.
Here's the deal...
We've decided to look at all the options to help you discover what's best for you in the world of candles, to make it easier to understand what you're buying, or what you need best.
Wax On, WAX OFF...there are a number of different waxes used to make luxury scented candles, some give amazing scent throw (strength of scent when candle is alight), some are assumed to give better eco credibility, some may burn longer and cleaner but not give the fragrance bang for your buck. Let's look at waxes at what they do.
What's Wax Anyway? What's the real story...?
Without getting too nerdy...basically wax is a candle's fuel that slowly gets sucked up through the wick and combusts when lit. BTW...all waxes emit soot, because all waxes are made from carbon. Some advertisers tell you their candles don't make soot. Tsk tsk!. All wax, whether soy, coconut, bees, paraffin or palm to name a few, are combustible carbon-based materials that produce light and heat when lit. So, what? I hear you say...eyes glazing over.
Candles Can Scent A Whole Room Quickly.
Some waxes melt quicker and burn hotter (but faster) which means the fragrance is released quicker and fills your entire room or space. You'll get this experience from luxury scented candles or what's commonly been called triple scented candles.
These candles are generally 100% refined paraffin, or sometimes a blend of 25% soy wax to 75% paraffin wax, and use a higher load of fragrance in the wax, so they cost a little more - let's face it - good perfume ain't cheap, right?.
They do require a little more care than regular candles so PLEASE read the burning instructions that come with the candle. Wick trimming, time of burn etc is important to know so you get the best for your dollar.
PARAFFIN IS TOXIC ISN'T IT?!!!!
You'd be forgiven if you thought so, but you'd be sort of incorrect. Firstly, paraffin wax is a by-product of petroleum refinement, and here's the million dollar question...does that mean my paraffin candles contain benzene or toluene or other toxic chemicals???? Am I at risk?
The Best Part.....
No. The wax in your luxury scented candles bought here in Australia (especially container candles in glassware) is actually so highly purified it's also food-grade. Think waxed lemons, candy, chewing gum, laxatives etc.
LOL don't start eating your candles, even though they smell sooooo good. If you are in any doubt check with the manufacturer of the candle if you can to determine if their wax is this type of super refined food-grade paraffin wax.
Most artisan candle makers who are making paraffin scented candles in containers get their waxes from only a few suppliers here in Australia and their source generally comes from IGI Waxes in Ontario Canada, where the WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and the U.S. OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) advise "not expected to be hazardous and not expected to cause cancer".
Some sources of paraffin (hard paraffin) can be quite toxic and often come in the form of cheap scented pillar candles (and also candles in glassware) that you buy in cheap discount shops. These generally come from Asia where there are little to no quality controls. Always buy your candles from reputable Australian, U.S., Canadian or U.K. vendors.
Also, you have to realise that any smoke, if you inhale it often enough is somewhat toxic to the human body. Hmm...burning scented candles Vs. smoking cigarettes...? I know which one smells nicer LOL. Also, I know which one I think is safer, but what do you think? I guess it's individual choice in the end.
WHAT ABOUT VEGETABLE WAXES?
Vegetable waxes such as Soy, Coconut & Palm wax have been very popular choice for consumers who want a "natural" ideal when it comes to candles. Soy wax in particular - at least in the early days - came with a good eco creds of being organic (no pesticides or herbicides used to farm the crops). It also melts slower than a lot of other waxes so it lasts longer giving you value for money in your candle purchase. However, no matter what people say - soy candles (made with just 100% soy wax with no other additives) cannot compare in scent throw to other candles.
The Politics of Candles....Candles are political? What?!
Politics bores me - endless arguments that never seem to get resolved because both sides are so biased. Oh yes...some candle makers (Chandlers is the term), can get a bit like this when it comes to their choice of wax. Ever been to a craft market? These days EVERYONE seems to be selling soy candles and every chandler seems to think they have stumbled upon the secret formula to the best scented soy candles with super strong scent throw. It's possible they have! Especially if they are creating a Soy 'Blend'.
LEGAL LOOP HOLE Oh NO!!! BUT WAIT!!!! THERE'S MORE!!!
Legally you used to be able to call your candle a soy candle even if it only contained 25% soy wax and 75% of other waxes. However, these days chandlers 'should' advertise them as Soy Blends so as not to mislead you. Watch out for that.
PALM CANDLES are beautiful crystalline waxes derived from palm trees to produce feather like patterns on the outside of the candle. Quite a luxury item, but worth every penny if you want a good pillar candle that doesn't drip everywhere.
But what about the poor Orang-utans I hear you say? The palm wax brought into Australia is reported to be RSPO approved. RSPO is the governing body that regulates or polices sources of palm to ensure they do not come from rogue farmers destroying the environment.
Without getting too political here, yes - vegetable based wax candles are a sustainable crop compared with say paraffin which is non-sustainable - but that doesn't mean the environmental impacts are that different. People get concerned with the waxes derived from petroleum refinement because of pollution.
However, since the invention of soy wax around 1996 (as a by-product from soybean farming), the environmental and political impacts of such farming has had some pretty undesirable effects.
Cartels have forced foreclosure on farmers properties to buy up more land for soy crops, more refinement infrastructure has increased to create the hydrogenation chemical process to support turning soybeans into wax.
How Can You Actually Use This?
Hopefully I've been able to shed some light on the differences between a few of the major candle waxes used to make your favourite types of candles.
Politics aside please! It's really up to you personally which type of candle wax you want to burn to create that scented ambience in your life, and how much you're willing to pay. In our own candle making workshops we allow you to experiment with a the major commercial waxes to make your own candles, so you can experience what it's like to work with them. Fun, fun, fun.
By the Way....
How Much Are You Willing To Pay For A Candle?
I don't know about you, but I am often shocked at the price of some candles!!!! Yes, you pay for quality, that is, quality ingredients that have gone into the making of the candle, rather than just the brand name.
The funny thing is that many who make candles obtain their ingredients from the same source or manufacturer, so to think that you can buy a candle from Jo Malone for 100 pounds, and one from Planet Yum or Glasshouse for around $39 for extra large astounds most people. The quality of fragrances, wicks & wax, and containers is exactly the same. In the scope of how much a candle should cost it's ridiculous, but then some feel that if they pay high end prices it's somehow a more special experience or product. Each to their own, but if you burn lots of candles like we love to do, price is important.
Where to from here?
Hopefully you'll have an easier time shopping for candles from here on in. Basically, buy the best you can afford, and choose your wax type based on whether you want an intense scent throw in the room, or something lighter - both will create that glowing ambience that a good quality candle should.
And if there's anything else you want to learn or know about candles or any bath & body care just let us know via messenger, email or Facebook, or give us a call. We'll be happy to help, and others will benefit via our articles because of you.
Planet Yum offers courses in a number body care products:
Soap & Goat Milk Soap
Creams, Lotions & Body Butters
Art of Perfumery.
If you'd like to get creative and learn something new & useful book into one of our fun-filled workshops today.
Andrew Dyer - Owner Planet Yum