These days many of us are looking to buy natural and organic candles as a way of eliminating some of the toxins our bodies deal with daily. There's a limit as to what you can do about exhaust fumes, but there's a lot you can do to control the air quality in your home.
There are 3 major waxes that are used to make candles (listed in order of historical use):
- soy wax
In order to assess what can truly be called 'natural' and/or 'organic', let's start at the beginning and look at the dictionary definitions of these words.
- existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind (eg “carrots contain a natural antiseptic”)
- in accordance with the nature of, or circumstances surrounding, someone or something (eg "sharks have no natural enemies")
- relating to or derived from living matter (eg "organic soils")
- (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals (eg "organic farming")
Common sense really. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new or anything you didn't know.
So now let's look at those waxes I listed, but we're going to look at them in reverse order...
Most of you will be used to reading 'natural soy wax'. The real facts are that soy wax is chemically bleached, heavy metal hydrogenated soybean oil.
Like extra virgin olive oil, soybean oil has a colour and strong aroma when extracted from the soy beans. To remove some of the colour and aroma, soybean oil is first chemically bleached with industrial bleach (what you buy in the supermarket is approximately 10% bleach, they use 100% bleach) and then it is hydrogenated (using nickel, a heavy metal as the catalyst) to convert it from an liquid into a solid.
It is completely misleading and deceptive to the average consumer to call a chemically bleached, heavy metal hydrogenated oil natural or organic. I'm sure you had no idea that when you purchase a 'natural soy wax candle' that you are buying this chemically treated wax.
And don't even get us started on those soy candles that they market for you to then rub their chemically treated oil on to your hands or body. It is absurd. Why is the Department of Fair Trading not doing anything about this? Your guess is as good as mine
So what about paraffin wax?
Paraffin wax is a by-product made from refining petroleum. Again, it fails to meet the dictionary definition of 'natural' or 'organic' in that it is a human-made wax. Quite apart from that, I'm not sure about you, but I choose not to run my car exhaust into my living area.
Why on earth would you combust a petrochemical byproduct in your living space?
What about "food grade paraffin waxes" that many candle companies try to sell you as being an improvement on paraffin wax? Is a chemically treated petrochemical an improvement on a simple petrochemical? You can read more about "food grade paraffin wax" here or, I'll summarise... 'food grade paraffin wax is composed of vegetable oils, palm oil derivatives, and synthetic resins plus other materials'. That is not natural or organic. It is quite absurd that it is marketed as something that you want to set on fire in your home.
Beeswax fits the definition of both natural and organic.
Beeswax is made by female worker bees for a 3 day period of their lives. The worker bees consume honey (which is 'ripened' flower nectar gathered by her sisterhood from flowers) and extrude beeswax from wax glands on her abdomen.
As you can see from the image above, beeswax is white when first made by bees. Any colour in beeswax is impurities. Some of those impurities are lovely - like honey, which gives beeswax its lovely aroma. However, other impurities - like pollen and propolis - will affect how a beeswax candle burns.
It is this knowledge earned through 25 years of perfecting our craft, and tens of thousands of hours of test burning beeswax candles (our own and others) that gives Queen B is reputation for the best burning beeswax candles on the market. It is also what makes Queen B a sought after judge of beeswax and beeswax candles both nationally and internationally.
A female worker bee makes 1/8th of a pinkie nail of beeswax IN HER LIFETIME. It's a privilege to burn pure beeswax candles, so we honour that.
It's the reason we're so fastidious about sourcing of beeswax, about our wick testing, about how we clean our beeswax, and it's why we continue to hand make every candle.
Honouring the gift that is bees and products of the beehive is literally our reason for being. When we started making beeswax candles over 25 years ago, all of the beeswax candles on the market were made with bright yellow (dirty) beeswax. They were usually sticky because the beeswax wasn't cleaned properly. And they were often covered in a layer of dust from being made on a farm and they were sold unpackaged (or in plastic). It drove me bonkers!
If beeswax candles are the only candles made from a truly natural wax, if they burn more beautifully than any other candle on the market, if beeswax candles have historically been the choice of churches, royalty and the aristocracy (ie people with money) then why isn't anyone making them professionally any more? Bottom line - the price of beeswax. Unfortunately that also means that all of those lessons that had been learned by beeswax chandlers, who were typically apprenticed to a master chandler at a young age, have been lost. We've learned them again during our long apprenticeship in making pure light.
What we now know is that because beeswax is a completely natural wax, it is different to work with every day. A beeswax from bees foraging on ironbark is different to a beeswax from bees foraging on yellow box. Working with beeswax on a 10 degree day is different to working with beeswax on a 20 degree day and a 30 degree day... and every day in between is different too.
Don't even start me on wicks... we have literally hundreds of pure cotton wicks at our disposal (different types of cotton and different weaves & tightness of weave) and finding the right wick for a particular candle can be like finding a needle in a haystack. But when you find the right wick, the resultant candle is sublime.
I challenge you to burn a Queen B Bee Light candle or a Tosca candle in a still environment and to not be completely overwhelmed by its beauty. They are an example of humans working in complete harmony and respect for nature. You could not create anything that would rival them with a human made wax.
It's the reason we have a lot of information and tips on our packaging... and blog posts!