My obsession with candles began years ago, specifically with the Midnight Jasmine scented candle from a very well known candle company. Needless to say, it was as far from non-toxic as it could get, but I wouldn't understand until much later the effects that burning a toxic candle can have on your health.
My mission is to provide ethically sourced, clean burning candles that also smell really, really good and look extremely aesthetically pleasing.
When searching for the perfect candle, there are a few things you should be thinking about: the type of wax used, the type of material the wick is made of, and also the fragrance being burned. All of these things add up to wether or not you feel sick or relaxed when smelling a candle that is burning. It's a simple equation, baby!
Let's start with the wax. Most of the candles on the market right now are made with either paraffin, soy or beeswax. Then, you have some small batch studios (like us! shameless plug) that use vegan blended waxes. More on this below.
Paraffin wax candles, made from a by-product of petroleum, are most commonly used in mass-produced stores as they give incredible 'hot throw' (the scent that emits when burnt) for a lower amount of fragrance (cheaper to make). The downsides of paraffin are that it can be toxic to animals and even humans when burnt. Remember that nasty migraine you used to get when burning that very scentful candle? Yeah, that’s paraffin for you.
Beeswax on the other hand, although a cleaner option, isn’t vegan friendly. Researchers from the University of Maryland reported that about 40% of the US' honey bee colonies died between October 2018 and April 2019, making it the highest winter loss in 13 years. Although the near extinction of bee colonies is not directly linked to the use of beeswax in candles, it does impact their ecosystem.
This leaves us with two vegan, clean-burning options that also happen to be renewable: soy blend wax and coconut blend wax. These two types of waxes are 10000% biodegradable (this percentage number is an exaggeration that really drives the point across), and are also natural sources.
Unlike paraffin, these 2 biodegradable options do not leave black soot on your jar, which in turn is not emitted into the air, staining your walls. They also do not contain harmful carcinogens such as benzene and toluene that paraffin candles do when being burned. When you burn a soy or coconut blend candle, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones are breathing in clean air, and not second hand smoke. Lastly, these natural blended waxes burn at a lower melting point than other waxes, which means that the life of the candle can last up to 50% longer than other waxes! I call this a win.
Next, let's explore the wicks.
You may have noticed that candles now come with an option of a cotton wick or a wooden wick.
Certain cotton wicks can contain traces of metal, such as lead. This is because the lead that it is laced with makes them stand up straighter, therefore causing the candle to burn better. The problem is that the lead then vaporizes into the air where it can be inhaled, and we are not supposed to be inhaling lead. Why? Because “exposure to high amounts of lead has been linked to hormone disruption, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and even death, while even low levels result in neurobehavioral changes, depression, irritability, aggressiveness, difficulty concentrating and lethargy.” (CDC).
Aside from leaving an aesthetically pleasing and extremely relaxing crackle, we have chosen to use wood wicks because they do not leave traces of metal and are sustainably farmed and sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified mills. FSC is an independent, non-profit organization that protects forests for future generations. Because FSC is the gold standard in forest certification, it is the only system supported by groups such as WWF, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation. In addition to being eco-friendly, wooden wicks achieve a fast and even melt pool for excellent hot throw and have no debris or soot. This is why we chose them.
Finally, let's talk about the scents.
Cheaper, mass-produced candles often use synthetic fragrances that contain harmful chemicals such as phthalates, since they give off a strong smell. Examples of these candles are those named after seasonal smells that would be close to impossible to replicate into a candle.
Phthalates are chemicals used to soften PVC plastic (the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer), as well solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, and can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system, if consumed in large amounts. I suggest you do research of this link with the sudden increase on endometriosis diagnoses in the US.
In fact, both the U.S. and Europe have imposed laws against phthalates in children’s toys, but there are no rules against phthalates in candles. As a result, here at Con Calma, we only use phthalate-free fragrance oils using fine fragrance oils and pure essential oils.
I hope this summary helps you make more educated decisions about your future candle purchases. As always, feel free to e-mail us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, or slide into our DMs @livingconcalma.