3 Things to Look for in a Cleaner Burning Candle

There are so many candles on the market these days. It seems like with the pandemic a flurry of small business candle makers to larger brands that mass produce candles have risen up.  Heck, even Leann Rimes has her own handmade candle company which she runs out of her home.  But there is more to candle making than just pouring some wax and fragrance oil into a jar.  There is real chemistry and science that happens.  Everything has to be precise, from the wax/FO (fragrance oil) ratio to the pour temperature.  Even the room temperature you're making the candles in or the weather outside can affect the outcome of your candles.  

But with the rise in popularity of candle making also comes the rise in the amount of choices we have in candle making supplies.  Long gone are the days of our only choices being paraffin wax and fragrance oils that contain carcinogens and reproductive toxins.  Today we have better, cleaner options to surround ourselves with all those lovely scents we love.

So if you're wanting a cleaner burning candle without all those synthetic chemicals and toxins just exactly what should you be looking for?  

Here are 3 things to look for in a cleaner burning candle that you probably never even thought about.  I know I didn't until I started making candles myself.

1.  Wax

Paraffin vs Soy

Soy wax is made from soybeans, while paraffin wax is made from petroleum (yes, the same petroleum used to make oil and gas).  

Soy wax emits less soot.  All candles emit some amount of soot, but given the same conditions a paraffin candle will emit more soot than a soy candle. This soot can discolor the candle container and sometimes get on your walls, furniture and curtains as well.  

And soot isn’t the only thing that paraffin wax emits. Burning or melting paraffin wax releases 11 known toxins—two of which are carcinogens.  

Soy wax burns longer.  All things being equal, soy wax will burn anywhere between 30-50% longer than a paraffin candle.

Soy wax has a lower melting point.  Meaning a soy candle doesn't have to burn as hot as a paraffin candle to melt and release it's fragrance.

And speaking of fragrance - soy wax has a stronger hot throw or scent while burning.  The chemicals released by paraffin wax can interfere with the scent during burning, which kind of defeats the point of lighting a candle in the first place. Since you can only add up to a certain percentage of fragrance oil to a candle (too much fragrance oil will compromise the wax), having a clean burn that really shows off the aroma is important. After all, you’re probably not burning the candle for light, but rather for its scent.

Other types of Wax

Besides soy there are some other great paraffin wax alternatives such as coconut or apricot wax.  You'll often see these used in blends along with soy and food grade paraffin.  Which is  composed of vegetable oils, palm oil derivatives, and synthetic resins and is not the same as the petroleum based paraffin.  Beeswax is also another great alternative but make sure you're choosing 100% natural beeswax and not a beeswax that's been blended with paraffin.

 

2.  Wicks

I know this is not something you think about when buying a candle buuuuut this is a really important thing.  Believe it or not some candles have metal core wicks. Meaning that they may contain lead or other metals. A better, clean alternative is cotton or wood wick candles.

 

3.  Fragrance Oils

Many FO's contain carcinogens or other toxins.  In fact, most commercial massed produced candles use fragrance oils that contain these toxins because they are cheaper.  But it's important to know that when you light a candle that has been made with these FO's you are releasing these toxins into the air and thus breathing them in.  These toxic fragrances have been the standard for years.  But with buyers looking for cleaner candle alternatives the candle making industry has been slow to catch up but there are alternatives.  Look for candles that use naturally derived essential oils, are phthalate free or what are called "clean scents".

 

All Katie Laine Handmade candles are made from 100% vegan soy wax made from soy beans grown in the USA and "clean scents" whenever possible.  You can see this in the product description of all my "clean scent" products.  In fact, you will almost never see a candle in my shop. that isn't made using "clean scents".

If you have questions about how to choose a cleaner burning candle, candle making or want to know if a Katie Laine scent is "clean" you can reach out to me by email at hello@katielainehandmade.com or leave your questions in the comments below.

 

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