All Queen B candles are individually hand crafted from 100% pure Australian beeswax.
The main alternative to beeswax is paraffin - representing over 95% of all candles sold.
Paraffin is a petro-chemical by-product which, when burned, emits a toxic smoke (for toxicity information go to http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/rtecs/rv55730.html). Paraffin is the grayish-black sludge oozing out of petroleum refineries. It is sold by the petroleum refineries (you can see a product data sheet at http://www.shell-lubricants.com/Wax/pdf/ShellSyntheticParaffin.pdf).
To make this waxy sludge more 'palatable' it is then bleached (which creates dioxins), processed and then texturised using carcinogenic chemicals. Candle makers then take this bleached, toxic wax, and colour it with synthetic colourants and artificial scents selling these candles to the unsuspecting public to burn in their living room!! Fantastic!
The toxic smoke from the paraffin candles covers your walls, furniture, carpet and curtains, not to mention the inside of your lungs and your skin. The soot given off from the burning of paraffin candles is the same as that given off by burning diesel fuel. Some of the air contaminants in paraffin fumes include toluene, benzene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and naphthalene - substances found in paint, lacquer and varnish removers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that benzene and toluene are probable human carcinogens.
In addition, many paraffin candles are made with a lead core or zinc core wick, further polluting your environment with toxic smoke.
A University of Michigan study has found that wicks that have either lead or lead cores (used particularly in scented paraffin candles) emit potentially dangerous levels of lead into the air - including allergens and even carcinogens including benzene, acetone, mercury and toluene. The effects of these emissions can be damaging to the cardiovascular, neurological and immune systems. The scientist concluded "burning leaded candles can result in extensive contamination of the air and house dust with lead ... House dust is widely recognized as a primary route of childhood lead exposure through hand-to-mouth activities" (go to http://www.umich.edu/~newsinfo/Releases/1999/Oct99/r100699.html).
While it is illegal to sell candles with lead core wicks in Australia, we are aware of at least one case in the past couple of years where a large US beauty company which proclaims as part of its mission 'environmental leadership and responsibility' were forced to recall their candles which were found to have lead core wicks. Indeed they continue to sell candles in paraffin coated cups. There is a lot more profit in paraffin.
A similar study was conducted in Australia by Mike van Alphen which concluded "Modelling of a number of residential scenarios and detailed exposure assessments readily demonstrate that daily candle* burning of several hours duration would result in elevated blood lead levels. The burning of multiple candles in a confined space for greater than 3-6 hours daily would readily result in severe Pb poisoning." (go to http://www.lead.org.au/mr/9-8-99.html)
Another interesting link:
Natural beeswax is considerably more expensive than paraffin. If a candle does not say 100% beeswax, then you can be almost guaranteed that it isn't. In fact, legally, a candle maker is allowed to call their product a 'beeswax' candle with as little as 10% beeswax content. We are aware of one candle company, claiming consciousness, who simply dip their wicks in beeswax, then inserting the beeswax coated wick into a pure paraffin candle, and promoting the candle as beeswax.