Waxing Lyrical about Candles !

March 5, 2024

Just sitting down to have a cuppa and I decided to light one of my many candles which got me thinking about what ingredients are used in their manufacturing process.

Candles have been a source of light for early human civilisations such as the Egyptians, Romans and Chinese. Tallow from animal carcasses was the main ingredient of wax during these times , although other materials  such as plants, insects and some rocks have also been used.

Beeswax is known to have been used by the Tang Dynasty  (618-907 A.D) and was introduced to Europe in the middle ages, but was limited due to the high costs and lack of availability.

Fast forward to today and candles are available in a variety of waxes. I believe paraffin wax still dominates the global market in volume sales with beeswax, soy, coconut, palm oil and even synthetic gels and other formulations being used.

As with all things, my primary issue is with health, not only for humans, but for those of us who have pets, particularly small furries such as hamsters and gerbils.  Even those of you who have indoor fish need to be careful. Here’s a link to an animal group that you may be interested to read more up on:

https://www.cats.org.uk/cats-blog/are-scented-candles-safe-for-cats

I’m not a fan of paraffin wax based candles because the paraffin is derived from oil and this raises the risk of toxic fumes being emitted. Yes the other types of wax candles may cost more. but in long term, raise less questions about their effects on our lungs.

If in doubt, I always prefer to err on the side of caution and believe that it’s better to stick with candles derived from coconut and other oils that are GRAS (generally regarded as safe) and which are used in cooking. These will have undergone more stringent testing before being allowed to be sold as food for safe human consumption.

Finally, as with any open flames, please don’t leave  any lit candle unattended and never leave them close to anything that could cause a fire risk; blow them out when you go to bed.  Your local fire service will have advice on this and other safety measures for your home.

One of our community members, Paul Gower is very knowledgeable about candles, so do message him if you have any questions.

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