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Why the Candle You Buy Matters

by Melody Lim |

My obsession with candles is what initially led me to dreaming about pouring my own candles one day, but what led me to creating my small business, was learning just how toxic many of the candles available on the market are. After diving deeper into how candles were made, I realized that most of the candles I was buying in stores to satisfy my candle obsession contained unhealthy toxins that we shouldn’t be burning, let alone breathing in! That’s when I started researching and discovering the benefits of clean-burning, soy candles.

When searching for the perfect candle, there are a few things you should be thinking about: the type of wax used, the type of material the wick is made of, and also the fragrance being burned. 

 

Let’s start with the wax

Three of the most common candle bases that you’ve probably seen are paraffin, beeswax, and soy.

Paraffin candles, made from a by-product of petroleum, are most commonly used in mass-produced stores as they give incredible throw (the scent that emits when burnt) for a lower amount of fragrance (cheaper to make). The downsides of paraffin are that it can be toxic to animals and even humans when burnt. Remember that nasty soot that was left on your wall when you were done burning that candle? Yeah, that’s paraffin for you!

Beeswax on the other hand, although a cleaner source, isn’t vegan-friendly.  Researchers from the University of Maryland reported that about 40% of the US' honey bee colonies died between October 2018 and April 2019 — making it the highest winter loss in 13 years. 

So, I did some digging into soy wax and discovered it was made simply from soybeans: a fully renewable source. Soy is 100% biodegradable and a natural resource, which means that it can be defined as being “clean-burning” Unlike paraffin, soy does not leave black soot on your jar and is not emitted into the air, staining your walls. Soy also does not contain harmful carcinogens such as benzene and toluene that paraffin candles do when being burned! When you burn a soy candle, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones are breathing in clean air, not second hand smoke. Lastly, soy wax burns at a lower melting point than other waxes, which means that the life of the candle can last up to 50% longer than other waxes! Have we convinced you yet that soy wax is the way to go?

Next, when looking for candles you will want to consider the wick that’s being used.

As you may have noticed, candles can come with either a wood wick or a cotton wick. Certain cotton wicks can contain traces of metal, such as lead, and this is because the lead that it is laced with makes them stand up straighter, therefore causing the candle to burn better. The problem is that the lead then vaporizes into the air where it can be inhaled. Did you know that the United States Environmental Protection Agency Research and Development speculated that upwards of 40% percent of candles have wicks with lead in them!  According to the US Centers for Disease Control, “exposure to high amounts of lead has been linked to hormone disruption, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and even death, while even low levels result in neurobehavioral changes, depression, irritability, aggressiveness, difficulty concentrating and lethargy.” 

Aside from leaving an aesthetically pleasing crackle, we have chosen to use wood wicks because they do not leave traces of metal and are sustainably farmed and sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified mills. FSC is an independent, non-profit organization that protects forests for future generations. Because FSC is the gold standard in forest certification, it is the only system supported by groups such as WWF, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation. In addition to being eco-friendly, wooden wicks achieve a fast melt pool for excellent hot throw and have no debris or soot.

 

Lastly, let’s go over fragrance in candles! 

Cheaper, mass-produced candles often use synthetic fragrances that contain harmful chemicals such as phthalates, since they give off a strong smell. Phthalates are chemicals used to soften PVC plastic and as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, and can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system, if consumed in large amounts. In fact, both the U.S. and Europe have imposed laws against Phthalates in children’s toys, but there are no rules against Phthalates in candles. As a result, here at MALA, we use only phthalate-free fragrances combined with essential oils for the safest burn possible. 


I hope that our research has provided you with some insight on how to pick out your next candle! We believe that soy wax is better for your health (and wallet) as they don’t release harmful toxins and have the added benefit of a longer burn time. If you have any questions about the materials we use or want to learn more about it, please reach out to us at hello@malathebrand.com :)