What woman doesn't love candles? But you've got to be wise when choosing candles. Guest contributor Shari Strosser shares a few reasons why you should always pick soy wax candles.
Soft, flickering candlelight is romantic and pleasing to the senses. The scented glow of candles is the perfect complement to a relaxing evening bath. The dancing flames quickly create a sensual and soothing atmosphere. Well, at least you’ve got that going for you—which is nice—until the soot-stained walls and respiratory irritations ruin the moment.
1. How about a Nice Hot, Steaming Mug of Petrochemicals?
Paraffin is the most commonly-used wax in candles because its high melting point makes gorgeous pillar candles, it burns fairly uniformly and is cost effective. Paraffin is a by-product of petroleum. Specifically, it is the leftover waste from gasoline refining, and burning paraffin can release the same carcinogens produced when gasoline is burned in your car. Did you just say yuck? It’s worse than yucky; it’s downright unhealthy. I know from personal experience that, over time, the sticky, black petro-soot emitted from burning paraffin wax clings to everything including walls, upholstery, and ductwork. I suppose you could repaint your walls and replace your furniture but what about the delicate lungs of young children and pets? You can’t replace those.
2. Soy Wax Burns Clean
Because there is no soot or carcinogens from petroleum, soy wax burns clean. Have you ever noticed the black smoke ascending from a paraffin candle after you blow it out? Yeah, there’s none of that with soy. Test it out for yourself with jarred candles. Extinguish a paraffin container candle and a soy container candle with their respective metal lids. Go ahead; I’ll wait. OK, now take off the lids and take a peek. I’m sure you’re not feeling romantic or relaxed about the black soot on the paraffin candle lid.
3. Safe for the Environment and Good for Economy
Soy wax is vegetable derived and biodegradable. This means it won’t be clinging to your rose bushes for another century or lying in wait deep in the soil and groundwater for your great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren. Parenthetically, it’s good news that lead wicks are not much of a concern anymore, at least in most countries. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned lead wicks. Most reputable candle makers have not used lead-core wicks for several years. In fact, many use pure cotton, paper core and even hemp. Another positive is that many soy beans are grown in the good old U.S. of A.
4. Easy Clean up
Soy wax is water soluble. It can easily be removed from containers with soap and water. If you melt soy wax tarts in an electric tart warmer, you can simply pour the melted wax out and wipe the container clean with a paper towel. If the wax has hardened, put the container in the freezer for a while and then the wax will pop right out. Most importantly, soy wax can be effortlessly cleaned off your gorgeous antique oak table if you accidentally spill hot wax. (Ask me how I know.)
Soy wax candles are generally not much more expensive than paraffin candles. In fact, in many cases, they are cheaper than big name brand paraffin candles. You just need to be sure that they are made from 100% soy with no undesirable ingredients. Just like everything else, there are both great quality and poor quality soy candles.
6. An Easy DIY
Speaking of affordable, why not make them yourself? Because of the easy clean up, an unintentional spill of melted soy wax will not become an unwanted modern art exhibit affixed to your kitchen counter. There is also low shrinkage so, unlike paraffin, you won’t need to top off the candles with more wax once they harden. If you use the pre-tabbed wicks, it’s even easier if you are a candle-making newbie. Pure soy wax generally should be burned in containers because of its lower melting point. However, there are some soy waxes with higher melting points suitable for pillar candles.
Soy wax has exceptional scent throw. If you decide to make your own candles, you can splurge on scenting with pure plant essential oils using the money you save buying soy wax flakes in bulk. The combination of eucalyptus and mint not only cleans and disinfects the air but is beneficial for headaches and sinus problems. Many people find lavender and lemongrass oils to promote relaxation; citrus oils to be uplifting for their mood; and patchouli to make them feel totally chill.
You diehard candle lovers can relax and breathe easy—literally. Soy wax to the rescue. Just think, if you replace the paraffin candles burning in your fireplace with soy wax candles, you can rest assured every Christmas that you have given Santa Claus the best present ever—a huge reduction in his dry cleaning bills. Do you currently use soy wax candles? How about other natural waxes such as palm oil or beeswax? If so, which are your favorites?