I can't start this post without first admitting that every cheesy candle song I could think of was running through my head as a title. What was with Christian singer/songwriters and all their candle songs in the '90s?
- Kathy Troccoli's "Go Light Your World" (maybe one of the first songs I remember being a special music in church growing up and that I probably sang in front of my mirror a billion times)
- Jars of Clay's "Five Candles (You Were There)"
- Point of Grace's "Keep the Candle Burning"
I promise this post is about products, not awful '90s Christian music (that somehow still holds a piece of my heart).
What are you burning in your house?
I'll be the first to admit I LOVE a good-smelling house and some amazing candles. I cry a little bit every time I realize I probably won't ever burn another "Autumn Walk" candle in my house from this point forward. But here's why: the more I learn about what's in the products we use all the time, the more I am OK with getting rid of them, because I know I'll be safer and healthier for it.
I don't know when it became so popular for Yankee Candles and other similar brands to become such a common gift and household item, but for years it's been as if you can't walk into a store or house without some good smelling candle nearby. They're everywhere.
As I learn, I still want to use candles, but I want to use the right kind. There are still lots of great options out there. But here's the top 3 things to consider when you buy or burn a candle:
What kind of wax is it? Most store bought candles (even high-end ones) are made from paraffin wax. Paraffin wax comes from basically the bottom of the petroleum oil barrel. Both crude oil (that makes gasoline) and even asphalt are extracted from the barrel before the leftover sludge on the sides which we now know to be what makes up paraffin. Yep, that pretty candle you're burning is made from the petroleum-byproduct sludge at the bottom of the barrel that has now been bleached and filled with all kinds of carcinogen-releasing chemicals. If you want to read more about this process and what the chemicals are and cause, click HERE to read another post I found about this. I will copy/paste this text from that website because it's that important:
Regardless of what chemical additives may or may not be in your paraffin candles based on the variations in Step 3 and 4 of the refining process, every single paraffin wax candle contains at LEAST seven documented toxins – two of which are carcinogenic – when they burn.
When you burn a paraffin wax candle, it is a FACT that you are filling your home with toxic chemicals and contributing to indoor air pollution. The soot and fumes released by paraffin wax are similar to those released from a diesel engine and can be as dangerous as secondhand cigarette smoke
What kind of wick is in your candle? Many candles nowadays don't use lead wicks, since they were banned in 2003, but if you happen to have an old one it might have a lead wick. HERE is a way to test it and find out if your candle wick might have lead in its base. If you do, toss it immediately as these were banned years ago (1 of the very FEW things the U.S. has banned that is harmful) due to the cause of lead poisoning.
If you can find a "non-cored wick" made of cotton, that is the best option. If you do get one that is cored, many are cored with zinc or tin and while these are also metals like lead, they should be safer.
I already posted about the harmful qualities of synthetic fragrance in my post HERE so if you need to re-read that, go ahead. But trust me when I say that if your candles are not scented with essential oils or if the ingredient list just says "fragrance" or "fragrance oil" they are probably not safe. It is best to find candles scented with essential oils that will be free of phthalates that you do not need to breathe into your body. I don't like to throw out brand names, but I will tell you that the most common candles you're probably buying: Yankee, Bath & Body Works, etc. are all going to include synthetic fragrance. And we know that 75% of anything with the word "fragrance" is guaranteed to include phthalates. Do you really want to breathe that in just so your house smells like "Fresh Cotton Hanging on the Line" or "Marshmallows by the Fire"? It's just not worth it. Find a company that uses natural, safe oils to make their candles smell like "Rainy Saturday Mornings."
One of the reasons I wanted to post this tonight was obviously to educate you, but the second is this: I found the MOST AMAZING CANDLE today that is locally made in a house just a few miles from my own house here in Louisville.
These candles are made from 100% natural soy wax (I would actually prefer either coconut wax or beeswax, but soy is still much safer than paraffin) and have a pure cotton wick. They're hand-poured and scented with phthalate-free fragrances. Mine is called "Wilhelm's Haus" and it smells of nutmet + ginger + cocoa. Does it get any better than that? I don't know who Wilhelm is but I want to live in his Haus.
If you live in Louisville, check out this company. Even if you don't, check out their website and get one shipped to you. This size was $20 and they had smaller tins for $15. They also have wax blocks that you can melt in warmers for only $5/pack! So cheap!
The brand of stuff that I'm a consultant for, Pure Haven Essentials, also has safe candles but I believe they're currently being restocked.
I am encouraged every time I find new products made with safe ingredients, which is all the time...you just have to look a little bit harder.