How much do you know about the candles you burn? If you’re like me 12 months ago, you wouldn’t know a whole lot. In fact, it is probably something you’ve never really thought about.
When I thought of candles, there’s a few things that came to mind.
- The distinct smell of any Tigerlily store identifiable from 30m away
- Those giant, expensive candles sold at Mecca that I bought for my Mum one year
- And the talking candle stick from Beauty and the Beast
Well, turns out there’s a whole lot more to candles and candle making than I realized prior to 2020.
I researched into candle making in May of 2020. I love candles, always have, and it gave me something to focus on while Covid was spreading like wildfire in Victoria. Within an hour of researching the waxes, I already understood the difference between what was on offer. What I wasn’t aware of was the incredible difference in sustainability and performance of each wax.
I had never heard of paraffin or palm wax, and boy did my perception change of candles when I did the research. Sourced from crude oil, mined from the earth and a by-product of petrol, paraffin is the cheapest form of wax you can buy and used in almost all well known candles.
I had heard of soy wax candles, and noted that almost any brand of candle that wasn’t paraffin or palm wax made the effort to label their candles as “soy wax”. This is done so people knew it was the “better” kind of wax. But as I researched in soy, I became even more shocked at the problems with it.
When I decided I wanted to start making and selling candles, I couldn’t bring myself to use paraffin or soy knowing what I had now learned about the sources – what can I say? I’m a greenie.
I started researching beeswax, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The benefits stood WAY out:
- It cleans the air with negative ions (I know, what the?)
- It’s the slowest burning wax meaning it lasts the longest
- It has a natural honey scent to it, so adding fragrance isn’t necessary – this is not the case with soy wax which smells pretty gross without fragrance
- The toughness of beeswax makes it perfect for pillar and taper candles (unlike soy which is too soft to mold)
- The wax is naturally dripless
- It’s glow is brighter and warmer than any other candle
- It’s a regenerative and biodegradable resource
Learning this, I couldn’t understand why I didn’t see many beeswax candles around, let alone know about any brands. Then I learned about the downsides:
- Beeswax is a precious, natural resource that is slowly made by bees making it the most expensive wax to purchase – not a great result when you want to start a business in a saturated market
- It’s the hardest wax to work with due to its natural susceptibility to external influences – for example, if you pour the candle in a room where the temperature is too cold, cracks will appear
- They require special cotton wicks in order to burn effectively – these are more expensive than other wicks
Knowing all this, I learned that candles I was very familiar with were sold at a ridiculously high markup, from a machine-made process. I learned that beeswax, while not vegan, was the greenest option to candle burning there is and is rightfully priced higher than the alternatives.
I had a decision to make. I could take the easy road and invest little money in creating paraffin or soy candles with cheaper supplies, or go with my values and create a quality product that requires a huge investment of time and money.
I did the latter, and I’m glad I did. The feedback I have received from my candles, particularly around the long burning times, makes me so happy. I am a big believer in paying for quality, slowly made products as they should last longer. This principle is no different when it comes to candles. Beeswax is superior in every candle burning way.
Make the switch to beeswax candles, the earth will thank you.