Friday, September 5, 2014

Yummy Candles

Okay, so I am a BIG fan of candles, really anything that smells great, but especially candles.  I had never thought of all natural candles until recently. I've been doing a lot of all natural homemade products and just got to thinking about what's in a regular candle.  It's actually pretty hard to find out since ingredients aren't listed on candle jars, however asking the employees at your local candle store should be able to tell you what's in the candles you are looking to purchase.  However, according to Green America

"A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air, says the CPSC, which is why they banned lead wicks in 2003. Exposure to high amounts of lead has been linked to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and numerous health problems. 

If you think you may still have lead-wicked candles in your home, see below for a simple test.
In addition, you’ll want to look out for aromatherapy candles made of paraffin—a petroleum by product—which release carcinogenic soot when burned. The soot can also cause respiratory problems and will aggravate the conditions of those who already have asthma, lung, or heart problems.
“Burning an aromatherapy candle made of paraffin is similar to preparing a healthy drink of fresh squeezed juice and adding a shot of gasoline,” says Eric Johnson of Candleworks, an Iowa City, Iowa based company that specializes in wholesaling nontoxic aromatherapy candles.
Besides endangering your health and that of your family, soot from paraffin wax can cause significant damage to the inside of your house, plus your computers, electrical appliances, and ductwork.
“Some families have reported so much soot damage that they have filed insurance claims, only to find such damages aren’t covered in their policies,” says natural living expert Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home Safe Home.
And if that weren’t enough, aromatherapy candles that are scented with synthetic oils release microscopic particles that can cause cancer and other health problems when inhaled. 
Natural Candle Alternatives
There are no rules or bans in the works for paraffin candles and those scented with synthetic oils. In the meantime, you don’t have to give up candles altogether.

• Buy 100 percent beeswax candles with cotton wicks, which are free of toxins. Beeswax can cost as much as six times the price of paraffin, so many candle manufacturers blend paraffin with their beeswax to cut costs. Be sure your candles say 100 percent beeswax on the label.
• Buy candles made from 100 percent vegetable-based waxes, which are also nontoxic. For example, Way Out Wax in Morrisville, Vermont, makes their candles with a combination of vegetable wax and hemp oil wax.

• To reduce soot, no matter what kind of wicks are in your candles, trim wicks to 1¼4 inch, and do not burn candles near a draft."
The No-Lead Test 
To find out whether a candle has a lead wick, follow these steps:

1) Look for a “lead-free” label when shopping for new candles.

 For unburnt candles, rub the tip of the wick on a piece of paper. If it leaves a gray mark, like a pencil, the wick contains a lead core. If you’ve already purchased the candle, take it back to the store and tell the manager why you’re demanding a refund.

 For candles that have already been burned, you should just throw out any that have metal cores as a precaution. Simply look at the tip of the wick and see if it has a metal core. If you still
can’t tell, peel back some of the cotton. 
I've also had some great success with soy wax candles as well, they are all natural, don't release soot, and burn at a slower rate than regular candles so they last a long time.  According to So Many Candle Waxes-What's the Difference Soy wax has many benefits and the only "cons" are related to it being a difficult substance to work with for candle makers:
"Soy wax is hydrogenated soybean oil.  Yes, soy candles come from the same plant as tofu.  Crazy, huh?  Soybeans are incredibly versatile plants.  They can be used for pretty much everything.  They're like the duct tape of the plant world.  The advantages of soy wax are:
  • it's a sustainable resource (one day we'll run out of petroleum, but we're never going to run out of dirt, water, and sunlight),
  • getting soybean oil doesn't require mining and does not harm the Earth or cause habitat destruction,
  • it's biodegradable,
  • it's made from American soybeans so it stimulates the US economy and makes money for our hard-working and often underpaid farmers, and
  • it's *much* easier to clean up when you spill it on something (just warm water and soap and a little rubbing and it's gone). 
  • except for paraffin, it's the cheapest wax around
Disadvantages of soy wax:
  • Soy wax molecules don't grab onto fragrance oil molecules as well as paraffin (yeah, yeah, so "grab" isn't a very scientific word, I know) and this means that some fragrance oils simply do not work in soy wax.  I don't know enough chemistry to know why some scents work great and some don't work at all, it seems pretty random and requires a lot of experimentation.  Soy candles can be strongly scented with fabulous scents, and can be scented with most of the same scents used in paraffin, so as long as you're the customer instead of the candlemaker you don't have to worry about this one.
  • Most regular candle dyes can't make strong colors in soy.  So you'll need to either buy specially formulated dyes designed for soy wax, or learn to love pastels.
  • Soy wax can make great candles, but it's a lot harder to get the hang of and can cause beginners to give up in frustration.
  • In its pure form, it has a much shorter burn time.  Add stearic acid to boost the burn time.
  • Not as good for wax tarts/scent tarts/wax potpourri as other waxes.
  • Some people are allergic to it.
Good uses for soy wax:
  • Pretty much everything!  The only thing soy wax isn't very well suited to is scent tarts.  But don't worry nature lovers, mixing soy wax with other plant waxes can solve this problem.
  • A good choice for when you need a large number of candles on a small budget. 
  • Large candles, as they would be much more expensive made from another wax."
So with this information in hand I decided to look for more natural candles to use in my home. I mean, if I'm spending all of this time making my own homemade cleaning products and switching to organic food to make sure my family is safe, how could I not look for better options to get my relax on!? As I said before, you can always ask your local candle store employees what the candles are made of, and also going to your local small, mom and pop candle store will most likely give you a larger selection of all natural, lead-free candles.  I was really lucky because I didn't have to go very far to find soy candles that I really liked that smelled AMAZING. I actually stumbled on them after my daughter's music class at Earth Baby Boutique I was just doing some window shopping and stumbled on these amazing homemade candles by a local mama! These candles are handmade by
Two Birds of a Feather  and are wonderfully scented, soy based candles. I purchased these two at Earth Baby Boutique, but if you don't live in southern California you can buy directly from Two Birds of a Feather and have these absolutely yummy candles delivered straight to your home!  These candles seriously smell SO good, they are probably some of the best smelling candles I've ever had, AND the smell is great both when they're lit and when they're not lit.  I don't know how many candles I have that smell great once I open the jar, but after I light it the smell quickly dissipates and I can't smell anything until I close the lid and let the scent accumulate in the jar again.  I haven't had this situation at all with these candles, I light them and the smell stays strong throughout the entire time I have them on. Yes, my nose habituates to the smell a little, but I can always smell the scent, it never fully goes away.  I've also just left the lid open and not lit the candle and had the same
lasting smell as when it's lit.  This is especially helpful when I want to have a nice scent by my bed while I read or go on the computer before bed, but don't want to light a candle just in case I fall asleep.  On top of the wonderful smell from the candles, I LOVE knowing that I am not exposing myself or my family to any harmful chemicals while I try to relax-that's the best part in my opinion! I will definitely be purchasing these candles again, either from Earth Baby or from the Two Birds of a Feather website, especially for their holiday scents!  I hope all of you found this informational, and I hope I gave you a good start in your search for amazing all natural candles! Let me know what your favorite all natural candle/melt brands are. And yes, Two Birds of a Feather also creates melts for burners!

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