Frequently Asked Questions
The most commonly used candle waxes are paraffin, beeswax, soy wax, palm wax and gels. Different blends of these waxes are popular with many manufacturers.
When you light a candle, the heat of the flame melts the wax near the wick. This melted or liquid wax is then drawn up into the wick by capillary action. The flame’s heat vaporizes the liquid wax to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide (the same byproducts that humans produce when exhaling).
A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. However, if the wick becomes too long, or an air current disturbs the flame, small amounts of unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame as a visible wisp of smoke. Any candle will soot if the flame is disturbed.
To avoid this, always trim the wick to 4mm before every use and be sure to place candles away from drafts, vents or air currents. If a candle continually flickers or smokes, it is not burning properly and should be extinguished. Allow the candle to cool, trim the wick, make sure the area is draft free, then re-light.
Unless a candle has defects that are obvious to the eye, you probably can’t tell just by looking. That’s why The Hahndorf Candlemaker strongly recommends that you purchase candles from a reputable manufacturer.
A new, internationally funded study on candle emissions has confirmed that well made candles of all major wax types exhibit the same clean burning behaviour, and pose no discernible risks to human health or indoor air quality.
The independent laboratory tests, conducted at the Bayreuth Institute of Environmental Research in Germany (Ökometric GmbH) and completed in late 2007, constitute the most extensive and rigorous scientific investigation of candle emissions to date.
In carrying out the tests, reference candles made from paraffin, soy wax, stearin, palm wax and beeswax were burned in a specialized testing chamber. Emission gases were analyzed for more than 300 chemicals known or suspected of toxicity, health risks or respiratory irritation at elevated concentrations.
Targeted chemical groups included dioxins and furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, short-chain aldehydes, and volatile
organic compounds. Recorded emission levels were then compared to any known relevant indoor-air standards.
The study found all of the waxes burned cleanly and safely, with no appreciable differences in burning behavior.
Their combustion by products were virtually identical in composition and quantity, with all emissions levels registering far
below the most restrictive of any applicable indoor-air standards.
There have been several misconceptions regarding paraffin vs soy waxes. Many proponents of soy waxes are making extravagant claims about the superiority of soy to paraffin. It is important to realize that both are safe, viable “natural” raw materials with different chemical compositions thus offering many varied benefits depending on end user applications.
Both paraffin and soy waxes are organic and occur naturally.
As soy wax proponents seek to establish a market share, there is a misconception that it must be done at the expense of paraffin waxes. Various manufacturers who utilize soy wax materials, have launched aggressive marketing campaigns designed to ” disqualify” and ” discredit ” paraffin wax. Unfortunately, their negative publicity campaigns have resulted in numerous misconceptions and generally unsupported scientific claims. It is important to clarify that both paraffin and soy waxes have been found to be biodegradable, safe and effective when used in well designed product systems.
Refer: Independent laboratory tests, conducted at the Bayreuth Institute of Environmental Research in Germany (Ökometric GmbH) and completed in late 2007, which constitute the most extensive and rigorous scientific investigation of candle emissions to date.