The Benefits of Burning Beeswax Candles
What type of candles do you currently have in your home?
When it comes to what type of candles to use, whether for tea light decorations during the holidays, candlelit dinners, hot meditative baths, and so on, you should be mindful of the effects those candles have besides emitting light!
Before we get to all the benefits of burning beeswax candles in your home, we thought it would be important to quickly summarize why the standard paraffin wax candles our society uses most today are so bad for you.
Paraffin wax is used mainstream not only because it’s easier to work with, but because it’s also less expensive for consumers and more cost-efficient for manufacturers than beeswax and other natural wax.
Odds are if you’re at the supermarket, local department store (especially “dollar stores”), or other chain outlets out there, they are most likely carrying paraffin wax candles. Those candles that smell just like a Cinnamon Oatmeal raisin Cookie, for example, may smell good, but they are far from good for you.
Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t require candle makers to list the ingredients in candles, so you never really know what you’re burning and breathing in. What’s even worse is that candles from China and Hong Kong, for example, have even fewer regulations.
Here’s a brief history on paraffin wax candles.
Candle wax was originally derived from animal-based fats/oils way back in the day (this method is still mainstream in Europe) and gradually evolved into paraffin wax around the mid-1800’s, which has now not only become the standard candle wax in the Western hemisphere, but the most frequently used candle wax in the world.
Paraffin wax was developed when chemists found a way to extract naturally-occurring waxy substances from petroleum during refining processes. In fact, they discovered it in the waste found at the bottom of barrels when crude oil was refined into gasoline. It was actually considered “restricted for use” for just about two decades. Why? Due to it’s toxic nature when burned. The highly toxic volatile organic compounds benzene and toluene are emitted when paraffin wax is burned.
Doesn’t sound too good, huh? And just like many products out there in today’s world, it somehow got the OK. Frustrating, I know.
The paraffin wax process:
- Petroleum wax is bleached with 100% industrial strength bleach in order to change its color from black to white. Keep in mind, everyday household bleach is only 10% strength, and we all know potent that stuff is. In addition to a slew of health problems caused by the dioxins from bleach, the EPA has also deemed those dioxins as possible carcinogens. Yuck!
- The chemical Acrolyn, known for releasing carcinogenic toxins like benzene and toluene into the air when burned, is also added to further harden the wax.
- A mix of other toxic and hormone-disrupting chemicals, artificial dyes, and synthetic fragrances (all varied by manufacturers) are then added to help the paraffin wax burn longer, appear more uniform and color distinct, and/or appeal to our senses (scented). It’s all junk. In fact, those scented candles that everyone just loves are the absolute worst you can get. The more “fragrance” candles have, the more soot they produce. And the more soot they produce, the more toxins released into the air.
- The soot and fume particles that paraffin wax releases are so fine that they’re able to penetrate the deepest areas of the lungs and are chemically very similar to diesel exhaust, which contains poisonous chemicals like benzene, toluene, naphthalene, tri-decane, tetra-decane, penta-decane, and hexadecane. In fact, they can be just as dangerous as secondhand cigarette smoke, not great for people with asthma, especially the elderly and children.
Beware of lead wicks!
Some paraffin wax candles are made with lead wicks, which will burn off and release into the air and create low-level lead exposure in your home. What’s scary is that science has already proven that a young child’s body, in particular the central nervous system, can be negatively affected by chronic low-level lead exposure.
Candles with lead wicks can release five times the amount of lead considered to be dangerous for young children. So make sure to look for a “lead-free wick” label when shopping for new candles.
Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned candles containing lead wicks in 2003, they still may be found in some discount stores, so watch out for those cheap brands out there and check to see if any of those older candles you may have lying around the house are outdated. You can tell if a candle you currently own has a lead wick by simply rubbing the tip of an unused wick on a piece of paper. If it leaves a gray mark like a pencil, then it has lead!
The safer wick alternatives made today in higher-quality candles consist of pure cotton or paper wicks that are either unscented or scented with essential oils.
When we first realized all the health problems associated with paraffin-based candles, we were literally grossed out and sorry we didn’t have this information earlier in our lives. But thankfully, we found some healthier options.
The two main natural alternatives: Soy Wax vs. Beeswax.
Soy wax and beeswax candles are much better options for you and your family. Although both are great and we’ll discuss why below, you’ll ultimately see why beeswax definitely has the edge.
Soy Wax Candles
Soy wax is a type of vegetable wax made from hydrogenated soybean oil. With so much soybean supply in the world, it’s considered a renewable natural resource. Soy wax candles burn up to 50% longer than paraffin wax candles and the wax itself doesn’t get as hot either.
Soy wax general produces candles that have a flatter shade than paraffin wax, so manufacturers sometimes have to use more dyes to make up for the lack of “vibrancy.”
Keep in mind, though, that the majority (90%) of soy that’s produced just in the U.S. alone is genetically modified (GMO) and they are a big “no-no” when it comes to health for many reasons. That’s another story altogether. So unless the labels read “USDA-certified organic,” it’s more than likely that your candles are made from GMO soy.
That’s why in our home we prefer to use beeswax candles, which are much safer and don’t directly contribute to the GMO epidemic, while also providing the additional benefit of helping clean indoor air pollution.
We believe that pure beeswax candles are superior to soy wax candles due to the simple fact that beeswax is the only naturally occurring wax on earth, made by honeybee secretions through the glands underneath their abdomens during construction of honeycombs. It can’t get any more natural than that. On top of that, beeswax candles can last up to twice as long as soy candles.
Pure beeswax candles are non-toxic, non-polluting, lead-free, and hypoallergenic. They actually cleanse indoor air of odors and harmful pollutants. Beeswax candles emit negative ions, great for combating and reducing the positive ions floating around the indoor air of your home emitted by TV’s, computers, cell phones, electrical devices, HAVC units, carpet off gassing, and so on.
Naturally, beeswax candles emit a beautiful and subtle honey scent when burned and have a beautiful yellowish hue naturally colored by bee pollen. Now beeswax is a harder commodity to obtain, therefore a bit more expensive. But as with many products out there, you get what you pay for. So why not opt for the healthier option, right?
Here’s a couple of our favorites.
All of our recommendations include products that are high-quality: 100% pure, NON-GMO, lead-free, no chemical or artificial dyes, non-toxic, do NOT contain any paraffin, and if scented use only therapeutic-grade essential oils! (Beware: Some soy and beeswax candles on the market may be spliced with paraffin, so always READ LABELS!)
Our favorite soy wax candles…
We absolutely love this company in every way. As far as soy candles go, this brand is among the best we’ve ever bought. Their candles are made with high-quality soy wax and infused with pure essential oils. They offer an array of beautiful scents to choose from and what’s cool is that their candles are made with wooden wicks that crackle softly when burning.
We have several of Roxanna’s Candles. Our favorites are their vanilla bean and honeysuckle jasmine. Whenever we have company, these candles are a healthy and relaxing conversation piece. Another great point to mention is that this company is well-known for having a strong sense of integrity and amazing customer service. We highly recommend these!
I & Candle aromatherapy soy candles are made in the USA. They’re created with high-quality soy wax and pure essential oils. Their wicks are made of natural cotton. When lit, they produce beautiful fragrances that spread throughout the home. They burn evenly and clean when lit and last a long time.
Other than Roxanna’s candles, we’ve had a hard time finding any other soy wax candles that compare to the quality of I & Candle! Once again, you’ll pay slightly more for these, but the benefits justify the cost.
Our favorite beeswax candles…
Pure beeswax candles are considered to be the healthiest burning candles available in the world. Hands down, Bluecorn Naturals have the absolute best candles we’ve ever come across. They are totally pure! They’re made of 100% pure beeswax, scented by honey and colored by pollen. Can’t get any more natural and raw than that! They offer a great variety of shapes and sizes, from pillars down to tea lights.
Compared to some other beeswax candles we’ve come across, you can tell how well-made Bluecorn Naturals candles are. They’re solid and smooth and their wicks are long-burning and smoke free. When you do burn them, the candles gives off a refreshing, but not overwhelming, honey scent. Even if you leave them unlit, they’ll fill a room with a slight honey scent.
They burn much cleaner and much longer than any other candles you’ll come across and, to be honest, they’ll pretty much cost about the same as those nauseating scented candles you get from places like Bath & Body Works or Yankee Candle!
A great line of handmade and natural Aromatherapy beeswax candles, Solstice Naturals are great if you’re looking for 100% pure beeswax along candles scented with pure therapeutic-grade essential oils. Their scents are subtle, soothing, and relaxing. We love to burn their lavender candles in our bedroom or bathroom just to take a load off and relax.
Another cool feature they’ve infused into their candles are that they use hemp wicks, which provide a more eco-friendly alternative to cotton. You’ll feel a peace of mind using these candles especially if you’re plain old tired of artificially scented candles you may have used in the past.
Just like the Bluecorn Naturals beeswax candles will give off a calming aroma just sitting there unlit, Solstice Naturals candles will give off the aroma of whatever essential oil their infused with.
Beeswax candles always provide a healthier alternative.
Just as a recap, we wanted to make sure you remember why beeswax candles will always have the edge over the rest. Not only is beeswax pure, non-toxic, and completely safe, but it also acts as an air purifier that combats all that nasty indoor air pollution.
We hope that after reading this you’ll be able to make a better decision next time you’re shopping for candles in general. Whether you’re opting for soy wax candles or beeswax candles, both are easily available online.
And please, if you have any of those old paraffin candles lying around, toss them sooner than later!
Cheers to your health!
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below! We’d love to continue the conversation!