We all love to snuggle to a good book (or Netflix!) , cozy environment and a good scent from a candle at the end of the day. The warm glow and aroma can instantly lift our spirits up, especially after a hard day's work.
Do you find yourself falling into that category too? Scented candles are now fast becoming a trend to must have in every household in Asia. What was once dominated solely by North America and regions of Europe, growing millennials and rising middle income group in Asia have given rise to the increased usage of scented candles. The growing popularity is also attributed to the usage in spas, home decors, aromatherapy , accompanying product launches and even cafes. But with this growing trend, people are also becoming more aware of the health hazards in candles (scented and unscented).
So what makes scented candle?
Candles are all made from wax. It could be paraffin or plant wax based like soy wax, beeswax , palm wax or coconut wax.When you are lighting a candle, there will be smoke generated. The level of smoke emitted can cause indoor pollution and many accompanying health hazards like headaches, allergies, sneezing and respiratory problems. Paraffin has been the biggest dominant wax used because of it's lower cost and mass abundance. But paraffin is a by-product of petroleum, hence containing highly toxic benzene and toluene (which is carcinogenic) when burned. Because paraffin is a product compound of petrol, it release a high amount of smoke. Almost the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes.
Fragrances are added to make a candle scented. Fragrances can be synthetic, botanically extracted or essential oils. If artificial fragrances are used, more toxins are released. Some dyes are used to colour the candles as well. These dyes are usually synthetic and can have trace amount of toxins.
Wick also plays a part. Being the center of the flame with the highest burn point, some wicks contains lead. Another toxic released while you scented candle sits pretty glowing in the corner.
BUT WE ARE HERE NOT TO SCARE YOU AWAY FROM ENJOYING YOUR CANDLE!
Take heart that these days, along with consumer awareness, there is a mark increase in candle makers who are equally caring into what truly goes into their candle. Scented candles can still be enjoyed if made the right, healthy way.
Alternative healthier candles
Soy wax in this region has gained popularity for the past 3 to 5 years. Soy wax is a natural plant wax. Hence production of soot and carbon reduces drastically when burned. This also makes them ideal candidates of zero carbon footprint to the environment (yay!) .Soy wax also has a slower melting point, hence making the candle burn slower as compared to paraffin. Making your soy wax candles last longer (almost 3 times longer!). Saves you a lot if you do your maths right .
Scents from botanical extracts or essential oils can be added in the wax to make it fragrant. Using the proper grade of scented oils will ensure less release of harmful toxins. While essential oils are natural and have medicinal properties, it's high cost and lower flashpoints ( meaning the point of when vapour ignites into flame) makes it a non suitable candidate when used in candles. When a candle uses the correct grade of botanical oils, the aroma lasts and lingers longer! Fragrance oils made specially for candles produces the right dose of fragrant strength without being too overpowering like the cheap synthetic oils. Remember this good old golden idiom- "Too much of a good thing" can never be good. So, too overpowering a scent does not make a candle better.
Cotton wicks are also crucial in their role when it comes to a healthy candle. Cotton wicks produces a much steady flame , clean burning and hence producing even much less soot! Cotton is also sustainable and natural.
There are many other alternative plant wax that can be used to make a good, healthy candle. While the cost of these waxes are considerably higher as compared to paraffin because of all the goodness in it, the long run of knowing you are using something that do not jeopardize your health outweighs the price paid for a good made plant wax candle.
So, what are you waiting for?
With this new informed knowledge of the goodness of plant wax candles, start choosing your favourite candles that uses natural plant waxes.
xxx Candle Pit Stop