Candles have been used for light and to illuminate man's celebrations for more than 5,000 years.   The progression what they have been made from is very diverse: from animal fats (tallow) to beeswax, bayberry wax, whale oil, stearin wax (animal fatty acids), paraffin wax and on to soybean, palm hemp and other plant oils.   When it comes down to it, there are a lot of choices: from what it is made of, how it is scented, what kind of wick is used, additives used to how the candle is packaged.

Here are a few things to consider when making a candle purchase!

Paraffin is a byproduct of other products produced by the refining of petroleum.   Petroleum is not a renewable source.   When it is gone, it is gone!   Vegetable waxes are made from plants which are a renewable resource   They help to clean the air and create the oxygen that we breathe.


Soycandles produce 95% less soot than paraffin candles.   Clean burning soy wax does not pollute the air.   Petroleum based candles release petro-carbon soot that can coat walls and furniture and other surfaces and linger in fills the air that you breathe!   This soot, according to the American Lung Association, contains 11 documented toxins, two of which are known carcinogens.   A much healthier alternative to petroleum based candles.


Soy and other plant waxes are biodegradable:Unlike paraffin wax that actually pollutes our water systems and the air, soy wax breaks down in water and spills are cleaned up easily with hot soapy water.


Soy wax candles can last up to 50%-75% longer than petroleum-based candles.   Now that's a lot of candle!


Soy wax candles distribute more aroma: Using soybean oil lowers the melting point of the candle, which translates to cooler burning candles and faster scent dispersion.   The lower melting point results in a larger pool of the liquid wax around the candle wick.   It is from this liquid wax pool that the aromas evaporate into the air.


Plant wax is good for your skin:  You can rub the melted candle wax into your skin.   Go ahead and give a little hydration those dry areas (hands, cuticles, elbows, knees and feet), or just put it on your pulse points to get the aromatherapy benefits.


Stick to candles that are made with cotton wicks and not metal of any kind.   Also, additives and colorants can emit toxins into the air when burned.

Candles may be scented with essential oils, fragrance oils or unscented altogether and should be labeled accordingly.   Essential oils are highly concentrated aromatic extracts distilled from a variety of plant material including grasses, flowers, leaves, needles & twigs, peel of fruit, roots, resins or bark.   Essential oils have the ability to improve memory and alter our mood, heart rate, body temperature and to ease pain and symptoms of illness.

Fragrance oils are made synthetically and mimic aromas found in nature.   Though appealing to the 'nose', they are unable to produce the same effects on a psychological or physical level.   Because some aromas exist that are appealing, but cannot be duplicated with essential oils or have an environmental impact to use them, some candles are scented with fragrance oils.   These will not burn as clean as those made with essential oils.   Although there are can be environmental impacts to the use of both, it should be your choice as to what makes 'scents' to you!

As consumers, we all make purchasing decisions that can affect the environment around us!

-Holly Redpath is owner at Sierra Essentials in Truckee, CA.


Questions? Then please send me a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can!