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Is there really any difference between candle waxes and scents? And do candle care instructions matter?



I have been pouring candles since I was a kid. My mother used to pour candles with me at the beach - ice candles, sand candles, all kinds of fun ones. They were all paraffin, because that was really all that was available to the masses at that point. And none of us realized how harmful paraffin is to breathe - so we used it.


Enter my post college years, and I learned a bit more about what paraffin really is (a petroleum derivative), and what kinds of compounds are released when it's burned. Things like toluene, formaldehyde...bad things. And yes, if you burn them in your house, they do find those chemicals in your body if they test.


What is soy wax?


Soy wax is, as the name implies, made from soybeans. It is comparatively very clean and burns with far less soot and residue than paraffin. Soy wax also burns quite a bit longer than paraffin. The flame takes longer to consume the fuel.


Soy wax is generally plain white and comes in blocks or in flakes (which I like because they're easy to use) and has a lower melt temperature than parafin. Generally, though, it does not take dyes or scents as well as its Petro-chemical cousin.


Pouring soy wax candles requires a bit of a learning curve, I admit. It took me the better part of 2 years to really understand the pour temperatures, reasons candles would have bumpy tops, or sink holes, or not burn well once you light them or not have scent "throw". All those things happened, and more, during my first couple of years grappling with soy wax.


I am now a convert. I pour soy wax exclusively. I don't ship my candles during the worst heat of the summer, because soy wax has a low melting point and could arrive damaged. I have to "cure" my candles for as long as 4 weeks sometimes, to allow the scent to fully incorporate into the wax and have the best possible scent "throw". So, I pour them early, and put them away until they are done.


I stopped trying to use colors in my candles, because the dyes are yet another chemical. I don't know if they are the best thing to breathe when the candle is lit, and the soy wax doesn't take the color well.


Also, soy wax has a phenomenon called "frosting". When the candle is happily sitting on the shelf, it may develop this odd almost frosty appearance under the glass. No reason, just happens. On a white candle, you really can't see it and it doesn't do a thing. On a colored candle, it looks like a strange white film. Still doesn't hurt it, but it isn't as pretty. So, I stopped using dyes.


Soy wax is surprisingly affordable.


Beeswax?


Yup, you guessed it - it is the biproduct from bee hives. The bees make the wax to hold the honey for storage. They make far more than they need, and so beekeepers often have a surplus they sell for bath and body care, or candles.


Beeswax has the longest burn time of all. Beeswax candles can easily burn twice as long as paraffin, and possibly three times longer. And beeswax candles burn extremely clean.


Beeswax has a faint honey smell when it burns sometimes. It is pale yellow and comes in blocks or in pellets.


Beeswax is also notoriously hard to scent or color, so you often see beeswax in its natural form with its own lovely beeswax scent.


Beeswax is comparatively pretty expensive, which makes the candles expensive.


 

So, we've established that:


  • Paraffin is the cheapest, but it isn't very clean and could potentially cause health issues.

  • Beeswax is the longest burning, and has a nice smell, but is very expensive and doesn't take scent well.

  • Soy wax is affordable, and while it doesn't take scent as well as paraffin, it does take scent once you learn how to do it.


Candle Scents


Which brings us to the elephant in the room: candle scents.


The scents used in candles are generally a little different than the essential oils used for body care or personal fragrance. There are essential oils produced for candles, but they tend not to produce much smell in soy wax. The only candles they work reliably in are paraffin.


Most scented candles today are scented using Petro-chemical fragrances that are potentially harmful to your health over time. These fall into a group of chemicals called "endocrine disruptors". The endocrine system can be thought of as the regulator for your body's hormones. It regulates hormone production and use in several ways. As you can imagine, the very worst case is exposing children and developing teens to these chemicals. Not good for any of us, extremely bad for them!


There is now a new option on the market for candle manufacture for scents that do not disrupt the endocrine system. These Clean Scents™ are so safe, they don't have a proposition 65 warning in California! I have NEVER seen any scent product that doesn't carry the prop 65 warning before.


The scents aren't cheap, but they are what we've decided to use in our candles because I don't want to be exposed to harmful chemicals, and I don't want my customers exposed to them either! Also, they work really, really well.


We test each new scent for our candles to ensure the scent throw is good, and that the candle burns well. We burn a ton of them in our own home and hope you will enjoy them too.


Candle Care Instructions


With each candle you buy from us, you get this "candle care card". I have been asked a lot whether that stuff "really matters", and the answer is Yes!


Soy wax has this concept called a "memory burn". The first time you light the candle, you should let it burn for at least an hour. Preferably until it has a melt pool from one side of the jar to the other. This encourages future burns to consume the wax on the sides, and not burn a "tunnel" down the middle.


The wick should be trimmed before each burn. A candle shouldn't have more than 1/4" of wick. Any lopnger wick and you may be burning too hot, which can make the scent less strong, and also make it burn too fast. Also, if you trim off the excess soot, the burn will be cleaner and less smokey.


Keeping a small pair of scissors for trimming wicks is an option. Another is the little wick trimmers we sell. Avoid using your fingers to break off the spent wick because you'll get covered in soot, and it may break the wick too short. A wick that is too short can have trouble staying lit when the wax starts to melt.

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