When you shop for candles, it can be confusing to find a "good quality" candle versus a poor one, plenty of options are available on the stores' shelves and the choice can be difficult.
In order to pick wisely, one must understand how scented candles are made and what types of ingredients are being used in the process.
Wax is the main ingredient. Many different types of waxes exist on the market and the most common one is called paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is widely used in the US because it's much cheaper than other types of wax and very easy to use to make candles.
The problem with paraffin wax is that it's a petroleum derivative which means, that it comes from the same source as the oil we put in our cars. In order to make a wax out of it, paraffin oil will go through two chemical processes, one to transform the oil into wax and one, to bleach it and make it white. Each time, adding a lot of chemicals to obtain the desired result.
It's reported by many institutions and especially in Europe, that paraffin wax is highly toxic because it contains a lot of harmful chemicals that are released when the paraffin wax candle is burning.
Some of these chemicals are but not only; Acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Thrichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene. Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, Cyclopentene... Some of these toxins are also found in other products such as paint, laquer, and varnish removers - that is some powerful stuff!
Hence, as a safer alternative, it's recommended to go for candles made with all-natural waxes such as soy, bees, or our favorite, the one we use at ARTISANE, coconut wax.
The second thing needed to make candles is the wick. Wicks can be made of cotton or wood but it's generally coated with other things such as lead or paraffin wax to keep it straight. Lead is another dangerous chemical because it's a heavy metal. In the US, lead has been forbidden in the manufacture of wicks a couple of years ago, but unfortunately, paraffin has not.
Third, fragrances oils will be added to the wax in order to make scented candles. Again, different types of fragrances exist. Some candle makers even use essential oils but most will add fragrances oils for a better scent throw. Fragrances oils are, for the most part, a mix of natural and synthetic ingredients. Here again, the quality of the fragrance used is very important because when burned, the fragrance will release chemicals as well. While essential oils could be a better option (essential oils are all-natural because extracted from plants and flowers), they tend not to work well in candle making because they burn. Hence, the scent throw is usually weaker and in some cases, non-existent at all. The best alternative to make a safer candle is to use a type of fragrance that is "phthalates-free" because phthalates are also highly toxic when inhaled.
So how do you know when you pick a candle if the ingredients used in it are toxic or not? Unfortunately in the US, there are no regulations in place that make it mandatory for candle makers and manufacturers to disclose the ingredients they use in it. You won't find the composition on the label, nor elsewhere. Only companies that prioritize quality will want to disclose what they use so keep an eye open and read the labels. If you can't find any information about the composition of the candle, these are probably made with toxic ingredients.
Needless to say, at ARTSANE, we disclose everything we use. All of our candles are made with an all-natural wax blend made in-house, containing soy and coconut wax. Our wicks are 100% cotton wicks, coated with soy and our fragrances are phthalates free. So you can go ahead and shop our candles safely ;)
Discover our collections of natural scented candles HERE.