Candles Part 1

It’s that time of year again.  Time to bring out the blankets and put up the fall decor.  Leaves of every color cover the ground and pumpkin spice is ever-y-wh-e-re.

I used to run out and buy all the candles.  Apple crisp, pumpkin pie, and more.  I want my home to smell like fall!!

Buuuuut then I found out that these candles I was burning in my home may have been contributing to my son’s poor health.

Wait.  Full STOP.  What was that?

Yep, these home ‘staples’ could be contributing to (or even causing) health issues. I had to know more.

What I found opened my eyes. And we made big changes in our home.

I want to share with you some of what I learned.  But be prepared, because this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.  Once your eyes are opened, you begin to look at everything deeper, questioning and asking “is that really as safe as they say?”

So, let’s get going.

First, I learned there are 3 common types of candles on the market.  

Paraffin candles which are made from petroleum as a by-product of making gasoline.

Soy candles that are made from soy wax, which is a processed form of soybean oil.

Beeswax candles which are just Beeswax, an all-natural, non-toxic substance secreted by bees after they visit flowers and consume honey.

We’re going to go ahead and cross paraffin candles off the list.  A by-product of making gasoline?!  Something about lubrication and dewaxing, though the specifics are vague.  A 2009 study from South Carolina University found that “The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air.” These chemicals “could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma”1.  No thanks.  The smell of fall is not worth that risk.

Soy candles seem like a safer option, right?  Made from soybeans, it’s a ‘natural’ product.  Except paraffin is not stable (does not stand) on its own.  It needs something else added to help it keep its structure.  Guess what they add.  Yep, paraffin!  Plus, nearly 90% of soybeans are genetically modified2.  Genetically modified crops are heavily treated with pesticides and other toxins.  This creates a dangerous environment for the farmers.  Not to mention that by buying these products, you are supporting GMOs and the devastation they are spreading.

Beeswax.  Now this one appears to be the clear winner.  It is truly a natural product and the collection of the beeswax is carefully done so as not to harm any bees.  (We all know how important bees are!)  Beeswax has a higher melting point and the flame is closer to that of natural light.  Beeswax also melts more evenly and drips less.  Finally, because beeswax is a by-product of producing honey, it retains a naturally sweet smell.  For this reason, adding fragrance to a beeswax candle is not necessary.  (Make sure you check out this post about fragrance.)

See, it isn't as clear cut as we thought.  But remember, this is the beginning.  Check out Candles Part 2 here to see more reasons to toss those candles, and what to use instead.


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