Somewhere, and I have no idea where, I have a reference for the scientific literature upon which this claim is based. When I first put a website up for Queen B (which is over a decade ago now) every single claim and statement was fact checked be me. Those fact checking references were duly recorded somewhere clever about 7 laptop computers ago and for the life of me I can't find where it is. And, if you google it, you really just find lots of beeswax candle website all making the same claims and all quoting one another or, quoting some random health blog with zero scientific validity.
The question was put to me again recently by a couple of asthma sufferers (air quality in Sydney has been badly affected by the bush fires with particulate matter levels 1,000 times over the 'safe' limit). All I had to offer in the absence of those elusive links to the actual research are photographs that I've taken of my candles at home because I find it so fascinating (as an aside, yes I probably do need to get a life)
The theory goes like this: dust, pollen, pollution, viruses, smoke, germs, aromas etc are all positively charged ions that float in the air (because they are lighter than air). A beeswax candle when it is burning emits negative ions (as does a waterfall, or those ionisers that you plug into a wall or himalayan salt crystal lamps are also said to, but I haven't done that research). The negative ions emitted by the candle attach to the positive ions floating in the air and that forms an atom which is heavier than air and thus drops to the ground or, if it is close enough to the candle, is drawn into the pool of wax.
I personally think that a picture speaks a thousand words so here are just a few from my candles that I burn at home.
Which brings me to my final point which is about the candle care. Depending on how much particulate matter is in the air where you live (and it tends to be high if you live near main roads or if you live near building works or even if you live next to bushland) there can be quite a bit of dirt in the pool of wax and this can affect how your candle burns. A couple of things to note:
- Sometimes the top of the wick will look "dead" (see photograph below)... that is where the dirt is trapped and that is why we always say that you MUST trim the wick of your candle whenever you go to relight it. It is trimming off the 'dead' part of the wick. Lock that one into your memory bank... it's critical.
- Sometimes the dirt may gather around the base of the wick and when you go to relight your candle you will have trouble relighting it. This is a basic physics problem - if the dirt is stopping the wick from drawing the wax (it's fuel source) then the candle won't light properly and will go out. The solution: when you light the candle, hold the flame of the lighter or the match to the base of the wick until you can see that the wax changes colour and starts to melt... that shifts the dirt clogging the wick and allows the wick to draw fuel.Beeswax candles are exceptionally clever, the candle will work it out from that point on, you just need to give it it's fuel source. I generally don't suggest tipping out the wax (because you're tipping out hours of candlelight)... the candle will work it out.
In the photo below you can see both the 'dead' top of the wick and the dirt gathered at the base of the wick.
Yours in pursuit of clean air and nature's finest light,