Natural candles such as soy candles, smell better, last longer and come from renewable sources. Environmental and health concerns about smoking and what we eat and drink are constantly covered in the media and get the attention they deserve. The good news is this attention has bought about a shift towards plant-derived goods for human consumption.
Candles however, seem to have flown under the radar as a potential health and environmental hazard. Did you know that as candles burn, their ingredients are released into the air that we breathe? And yet, somehow there are few regulations governing the manufacture and sale of candles in Australia.
Unlike natural candles, most commercial candles are made from paraffin. Paraffin is derived from crude oil, a non-renewable energy source and a waste product of petroleum refineries. When paraffin candles are burnt they emit toxic black soot, similar to burning diesel fuel. Research shows that burning paraffin wax emits human carcinogens into the air you breathe such as toluene, benzene, methyl ethyl ketone and naphthalene.
All candle wax consists of long hydrocarbon chains, which produce carbon dioxide when burnt. The effect on the environment depends on the source of these hydrocarbons. The carbon in paraffin wax was once trapped underground in old deposits, and when burnt releases black soot, which is damaging to your health and can discolour your walls and furnishings.
Natural candles made from pure soy are the healthy alternative to paraffin oil candles. The carbon in soya oil is derived from a plant that naturally created this oil. When this clean oil is burnt, there is a comparatively small impact on the environment. Pure soy wax is completely natural and renewable and is therefore better for the environment and health.
Another benefit to natural candles is they last up to twice as long as paraffin based candles, therefore they are much better value for money. Also, crucially, by purchasing natural candles made from soy, you are supporting the farmer. When you purchase candles made from paraffin, you are supporting the petroleum industry.
Yet another advantage of natural candles made from soy are, unlike paraffin wax, soy wax is water soluble. That means spills and wax drips can be easily cleaned up. It also means that the glass jars that the candles are set in can be reused and recycled after a quick wash in soapy water.