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Monthly Archives: June 2013

  • Mythbusters - Chlorine in Beeswax

    I've just had my third phone call for the month by a concerned customer who had been on another beeswax candle company website and was asking about whether there was chlorine in our beeswax.  She directed me to the site.  Apart from the fact that the information on the website is misleading and deceptive, the claims are fear-mongering and causes panic where there is no need for alarm.  There are enough genuine concerns for us to worry about in terms of chemicals in our lives without someone intentionally misleading people.

    Amongst many other ridiculous, grandiose claims and lies, the (misleading and deceptive) website claims:

    "Chlorine in beeswax

    Almost all candle manufacturers overlook or ignore this very crucial point when attempting to manufacture a clean fume candle.

    If a candle manufacturer {beeswax or other} is not mentioning that their wax is free from chlorinated water for example, it is most probable that their wax is melted in and absorbing chlorine through chlorinated {town/city/potable} water.

    “Chlorine must be avoided as the chlorine is absorbed by the wax and will be released as a toxic gas if burned in a candle” [ p69].
    THE ABC AND XYZ OF BEE CULTURE, Morse & Flottum, 1990"

    A quick fact check reveals that the paragraph that he quotes from The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, Morse & Flottum, 1990 is taken completely out of context.  This particular part of the book (which is an invaluable beekeeping reference guide) is discussing options for chemically bleaching beeswax.  The relevant paragraph reads as follows:

    "We cannot emphasize too strongly that there are several dangers and precautions to be taken when processing beeswax.  For example, bleaches using chlorine, which is an excellent bleaching agent, must be avoided as the chlorine is absorbed by the wax and will be released as a toxic gas if burned in a candle." [emphasis added]

    cleaning beeswax The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, Morse & Flottum, 1990 (pg 69)

    I couldn't agree more.  They are talking about pouring raw chlorine into the wax to bleach it.

    I can only speak for Queen B when I say that there is no chlorine (or any other chemical) used in our cleaning process.  Nor that of our beekeepers, all of whom we've audited prior to buying wax, and whom we've had relationships going on for a decade now.  In fact, I don't know a single beekeeper who uses chlorine (or any chemicals) to clean their wax.  [The book, now in its 40th edition,  was first published in 1877.  It's age old wisdom has been standard practice in the industry for over 100 years.]  At Queen B we use the age-old process of purifying and cleaning our beeswax with water, time (to allow impurities to settle) and filters.  The filtration we use would certainly not be industry standard and is the result of a decade of trial (& error) and thorough testing.  We've 'kissed a lot of frogs' learning what we've learned.  We've also read all the literature and learned from our forefathers... both in beekeeping and in candlemaking.

    I guess this is another reminder that unfortunately, even on the side of "good" there is the occasional evil person.  If you have bought in to any of the claims on this website, can I suggest that you ask to see the claimed organic certification for their wax.  Can I also suggest that you read our post about the pigments we use for our, world-renowned, rolled pillar range.  And, can I respectfully suggest, that if a company is a proven liar, who has no compunction in misleading and deceiving potential (and actual) customers and who actively seeks to cause fear where there is no cause for alarm, that you should not buy their products.  This is a company that claims on their home page to have been manufacturing pure beeswax candles since 1975 (although they claim on another page that they made their first tealight in 1993) and yet made all of their beeswax candles from a blend of beeswax and macadamia nut oil until Queen B launched pure beeswax tealight, votive and pillar candles... all the while ranting on their website about the fume dangers of burning an oil!  And those are statements of fact... and in context!

    It is challenging enough to run a manufacturing business in Australia, hand-making natural products, without having to spend time countering bogus claims.  I am always grateful when misled consumers call because I can give them the facts... do the research... find the evidence.  What really horrifies me is all those customers who believe the claims and don't call.  Who don't know me and hence don't know that the integrity of a Queen B candle is unimpeachable.  Who don't have the opportunity to experience the beauty of a Queen B candle because they bought the lies.  Who are misled and deceived.  It is enough to make a grown bee cry..  And the greatest shame is that they are sullying an industry that has so much goodness in it.

    ... I'm off to light more (Queen B!) candles and a smudge stick just to remove their energy from our hive.

    Yours in truth, facts and light,

    Cate xx

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  • Eco wedding - pure beeswax candles

    We're pretty spoiled for choice on things to write about at Queen B, but I have to say that one of my greatest delights is when our customers share photographs with us of their events and we can see our hand-crafted beauties doing their thing.

    It is one thing to sell beeswax candles, it is another thing entirely to make natural light.

    It's one thing to use candles at a wedding or event, it is another thing entirely to use completely natural beeswax candles with their unique golden light (not to mention that your guests don't have to breathe in toxic fumes all night)... that simple choice will not just create a special ambience, but you're also supporting bees, our beekeepers, the regional communities they live in, jobs at Queen B... not to mention the environment and planet!  One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.  Wedding... becomes eco wedding... luxury wedding... different... special!

    While my raison d'étre may be hand-crafting natural, non-toxic, carbon neutral, eco candlelight, we are fortunate that our candles appeal just as much to the luxury end of the market as they do to the conscious or eco consumer... not that they're mutually exclusive!

    Anyway, I thought it might be nice to share some of the photographs from events we've lit.  A picture speaks a thousands words (and, often, so do I!).  These photographs are from a wedding held at The Wharf in Sydney.  Flowers by Grandiflora.

    For this wedding, the candles were used in two ways:

    1. Ambience - rising to the challenge of creating a warm, romantic, intimate ambience in a huge warehouse space, our 8-9hr tealight candles were placed in mini-fishbowls at each guest's place setting and dotted along the windowsill around the venue.  NB putting candles into a glass not only provides wind protection but the glass reflects more light... giving you more bang for your hard earned buck.
      eco wedding, beeswax tealight candle, sustainable candle, carbon neutral wedding, eco event, sustainable event Queen B beeswax tealight candles at each guest's place and dotted along the windowsill of the venue
      eco wedding, sustainable wedding, eco event, sustainable event, pure beeswax tealight, beeswax tlite candle, grandiflora flowers wedding beeswax Queen B pure beeswax 8-9hr tealight candles are the longest burning tealights on the market... so the ambience goes on and on
      eco candlelight for your eco wedding or eco event, sustainable beeswax tealight candle Stunning flowers by Grandiflora... candlelight by Queen B's long burning 8-9hr beeswax tealight candles

       

    2. A sea of candlelight feature table - our bride wanted to create a sea of candles as a feature at the event.  This was cleverly achieved on a budget by using large fishbowls, glass plinths, tealight holders and votive holders along with various sizes of candles to create the look.  The flickering of the flames reflecting off the glass holders of different sizes and shapes created the look of hundreds of candle flames.
      eco wedding, sustainable wedding, eco event, sustainable event, beeswax candle The sea of beeswax candles created a lovely light feature table for this eco luxury wedding created a beautiful impact
      eco wedding, beeswax candle wedding, sustainable wedding, eco event, sustainable event, candle feature, sea of candlelight The use of glass fishbowls allows for a huge candle feature table on a more limited budget
      eco wedding, sustainable wedding, carbon neutral wedding, eco candlelight, beeswax candle, beeswax wedding Create a sea of beeswax candlelight with the clever use of fishbowls, hurricanes, plinths, tealight holders, votive glasses etc
      eco wedding, sustainable wedding, eco event, sustainable event Creating a candle feature at your luxury eco wedding or event is a high impact way of creating instant ambience

       

    A few tips for creating this look:

    • most good florists will have glassware that they can lend/hire to you for the evening rather than purchasing it.
    • if you're having an event at home or not using a florist for your event, hire glasses (lowballs or highballs) as another cheap way of creating this look without breaking the bank
    • otherwise, most Vinnies stores have a huge range of glassware for sale... I've lit an event before where I bought over 150 glasses for 50c each and then dropped them back the next day.  That's a win win!  And the different sizes, shapes and heights of the glasses create a beautiful look... if that's the look you're going for!... it's not the luxury eco wedding look, but it is a lovely look!
    • these photographs were taken before we launched our tealights in clear cups... the tealights in clear cups would be EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL... if that's even possible

    If we've lit your wedding or event (no matter how big or how small) and you have beautiful, professional quality photographs showing the candlelight on the occasion that you'd be happy for us to share, please email them to me and we'll give you a $25.00 credit on your next order.  We're also happy to provide credit to the photographer.

    Sweetness & light and all things bright,

    Cate xx

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  • Clearing the Clutter

    30 June never really had any significance for me... until I started Queen B.  And as Queen B has grown, so has the dread of 30 June - primarily because it means that I have to do a huge stocktake which means counting every single thing in the building.  Yes, even wicks!

    So, this year I thought I'd get in early with a few things that, whilst gorgeous, have outstayed their welcome.  It's time to go...

    2013 Clean the Clutter

    Click on the link to open the pdf.  Most things are 30 - 40% off.  Because our photographs are a little wanting in creativity (great candlemakers don't necessarily make great photographers :-0!) I found a few other images of the goodies online (and I've put their links in so that their creative work is recognised).

    It's first come, first serve.  Because of the time it would take to load everything online, simply pop me an email to thehive [at] queenb.com.au with what you want and your best contact number and we'll do things over the phone.  Like always, orders under $100 pay a flat $11 shipping, orders over $100 we pay the shipping.  If you want candles too, you can pop that order though online and in the comments field advise what you would like added to your order.

    quintessencesydney.blogspot.com quintessencesydney.blogspot.com
    www.goosestore.blogspot.com www.goosestore.blogspot.com
    rustikwhite.blogspot.com rustikwhite.blogspot.com
    wolfandwillow.typepad.com wolfandwillow.typepad.com

     

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  • A healing hug

    I'm on a roll of loveliness at the moment... in the zone... it's all flowing at the hive.  I received a card in the mail on Friday (and I LOVE mail that doesn't come in a window envelope).  The shape and colour of the envelope (ie red and square) had me ripping it open immediately.  This is what I read:

    "Dear Kate [we'll forgive her for not knowing it was Cate with a 'C' because a hug doesn't come with spelling instructions],
    I'd like to say thank you again for the little gift of Bee Light candles you gave me and the lovely cuddle [yes, I give all sorts of things away for free at the hive :-)]. Saturday morning I was feeling a bit down.  Sometimes you take on the world but you feel you can't do what you want to do, or solve all the worries.  I felt like I was carrying all the troubles of the world on my shoulders.

    We also had friends coming for dinner on Saturday night and I just didn't have everything in order as I wanted.  That's when I said to Pete (my man in matching clothes!) I need a special candle to clear the air and brighten my day. [NB This couple came in to the hive wearing the same colours and when I commented on it they moved 3 feet apart and looked horrified!  I thought it was gorgeous.]  As Pete chatted to you I was still thinking about saving the world.

    To bring your candles home and light them was the cleansing that I needed and your little gift made my day.

    You not only sell a special product, but your shop has something mystical about it that you reign over.

    Again thank you

    Love

    [amazing, thoughtful, lovely customer] xx

    P.S. My candles are glowing now as I write."

     

    Just in case I did ever wonder whether it's all worth it (and, for the record, that is rare) it is cards like this that have Tilly and I metaphorically high fiving, chest bumping and loving what we do sick.

    IMG_3732 Beautiful, thoughtful, lovely, generous customer note

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  • Waxes ain't waxes

    So we all know that I bang on constantly about not all waxes (paraffin, soy, palm and beeswax) being equal... well, that applies to beeswaxes too.

    A few weeks ago a customer bought a 'pure beeswax candle' for me from Dusk.  It is sold at a discount to a the smallest Queen B hand-rolled honeycomb candle (theirs is about 20% narrower and would have less labour as it is not finished properly).  A part of me was thrilled that this purveyor of paraffin (petrochemical wax) candles now had a natural beeswax candle as part of their range, but I was a little disappointed to see that they were using what appeared to me to be very dirty beeswax, using the wrong wick and that the candles were messily made and unfinished.

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - pre lighting Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle - pre lighting

     

    Aesthetics first (because that is how you get a customer to notice your product in the first place): by not finishing the candle top and bottom it doesn't actually sit straight and, in addition, most house proud people don't want candles that look dirty.

    And now on to the performance - which is really driven by the wax and the wick.  When bees make beeswax it is white, so any colour in beeswax is impurities.  A little of that is great... a little honey residue is what gives beeswax candles their natural honey aroma.  But a lot of impurities are a disaster waiting to happen in terms of a candle doing what a candle is supposed to do... ie provide light with a lovely, large flame.

    It's one thing to have a theory (and a decade of pounding your head against a brick wall to learn what you've learned :-0) and quite another to see that play out.  So we fired them up.  Notice the respective sizes of the flame upon being lit (and that the Dusk candle doesn't sit straight).

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - just lit Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle - just lit

     

    After 30 minutes... wick used in the Dusk beeswax candle is beginning to drown... (the clean beeswax and cotton wick in the Queen B candle are performing well... happy queen).

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 30 minutes Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle - 30 minutes

     

    An hour and a half in, the difference is even more noticeable.  If I were the Dusk customer I would now be thinking that beeswax candles are cr*p and don't burn properly.  I'd be very disappointed.  I'd be thinking twice and thrice before forking out my hard earned money on beeswax candles again.

    Queen B vs Dusk pure 100 pure bee wax candle - 90 minutes Queen B vs Dusk pure beeswax candle - 90 minutes

     

    2 hours in...

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 120 minutes Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle - 120 minutes

     

    Two and a half hours...

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 150 minutes Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle - 150 minutes

     

    Three hours... You really have to wonder how rigorous their testing procedures are... or do they just not care?

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle- 180 minutes Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle- 180 minutes

     

    Three and a half hours...

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 210 minutes Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle - 210 minutes

     

    Five hours burning now.  Dusk have a very disappointed customer and beeswax candles are now unfortunately tarred with the same brush...

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 5 hours Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle - 5 hours

     

    And after seven and a half hours I'd seen everything that I needed to see.

    Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 7.5 hours Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle - 7.5 hours

     

    Anyone who knows me knows that anything that I say, I will say to someone's face.  Brutally honest?  Yes.  Two faced?  No.  Three days ago, armed with my tests and photographs I called Dusk to try to speak to their product development people or the relevant buyer.  I was told by the Help Desk that they couldn't give me those details for "privacy reasons" and to rather send an email.  I sent an email the same day - firstly alerting them to the problem (selling a product that didn't perform, destroying their own brand and damaging the reputation of beeswax candles) and secondly offering to make their beeswax candles for them.  "Don't just give me problems, give me solutions"!  I received a response telling me that my email had been sent on "to the appropriate persons who will be in touch should they wish to discuss further".  The "appropriate persons" haven't been in touch yet.

    What's not to discuss?

    And that brings me to price.  Yes, there are beeswax candles on the market that are cheaper than Queen B candles, BUT I can say hand on heart (and having not increased our prices in over 6 years despite all of our costs increasing every year) that if they are cheaper they just aren't the same quality.  Now, that is a BOLD statement.  It may even seem arrogant.  I genuinely don't mean to be, I just know the cost of making pure beeswax candles.  Here's what makes Queen B candles different:

    1. we only buy 100% pure Australian beeswax (which is the most expensive beeswax in the world because it is free from the chemical residues that other beeswaxes have as we are free of the varroa mite)

    2. we only buy beeswax from specific honey flows, from specific beekeepers and we have searched far and wide over the past decade to find those beekeepers who are producing the best beeswax available... and we pay well above the market rate so that they earn a premium for the premium product that they sell.

    3. we then clean that wax (which beekeepers consider clean) properly ourselves over a period of 48 hours (using water and filtration)

    4. we spend literally months on wick testing before we launch a candle on to the market.  With literally hundreds of pure cotton wicks at our fingertips there is a lot of testing to be done.  The difference between the wrong wick and the right wick is often only evident several hours into burning... or in certain weather conditions... or on a particular surface.  It's not a craft, it's a science.

    5. we hand make every Queen B candle.  Sure you can churn them out of a machine faster (and cheaper) but you forgo quality and you forgo the 'je ne sais quoi' that makes a hand made product special.  Not sure how hippy you want to be about these things but I can be a bit out there and to me there is a certain magic in a candle that has been made by a person.  Sure it costs a little more.  Many a well intentioned person has advised me to look at mechanising our process or moving production off shore.  But to me it is untenable.  We have focused on being outrageously efficient and every single person who has ever worked at Queen B has understood very early on that if we aren't all efficient we are out of business.

    Designing and hand-making pure beeswax candles is a craft.  Ensuring they burn properly is a science.  At Queen B we try to do both with excellence, and THAT is the difference between a Queen B pure Australian beeswax candle and any other beeswax candle on the market.  Being a complete perfectionist has many, many drawbacks and one very obvious benefit.  The drawbacks are primarily mine to deal with, the single benefit is the greatest gift that I can give our customers and the bees that make the beautiful wax that goes into Queen B candles.

    Thanks to you for your support.  Ultimately it doesn't matter how good our wax is, how comprehensive our wick testing is or how much perfectionism we bring to the job, if no one is prepared to buy your wares you don't have a business.  Thank you for letting me run this business.  I consider it a great privilege to do what I am passionate about every single day.

    Cate xx

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