Candle Considerations by gjjur4356


									ten for today
By ReBecca Jones

Candle Considerations
Historians believe that about 5,000         so sweetly and cleanly. “Other than the           “We talk about notes,” Roth says.
years ago ancient Egyptians had the         obvious good things that bees do for          “The top note is the first scent that
bright idea of sticking a reed into some    us, it’s a renewable resource. There’s        comes out. Then, the olfactory sense
animal fat and lighting it. Candles         no waste in beeswax production,”              acclimates to that. The middle and
have been flickering in human homes         says Andraya Weitzel, spokeswoman             base notes are slower to react within
and gathering places ever since.            for the family-owned Clarks Wax               the nose. Most successful fragrances
    Candlemakers have come a long way       Works in Eaton, Colorado. “They’re            are quite complex. Single fragrance
in the intervening millennia, developing    hypoallergenic, and we believe beeswax        products don’t react with as much of
better waxes, wicks, and fragrances. Just   candles release negative ions, which          the olfactory sense as
in the past five years, technology has      relieve stress and boost energy.”             a blend of
advanced to include realistic flameless          The downside of beeswax is the           fragrances.
and even remote-controlled candles.         cost. They tend to be the priciest            If you have
Today, candle shoppers face a multitude     candles. Vegetable wax-based                  a blend,
of options, in a wide range of prices.      candles are less expensive and still          you’ll hit
    Does a cheap dollar store candle        avoid the use of petrochemicals.              harmonies
burn just as well as an expensive one            They also have one big advantage         with a
bought in a boutique? As a rule, you        over paraffin: they burn at a lower           number of
get what you pay for. But opinions vary     temperature and that has special              different receptors
on just what’s worth paying more for.       implications for massage therapists.          in the nose. It’s that
Following are some pointers to help         “You can put your finger into the             subtle transformation from
shed light on the topic of candles.         molten wax in these vegetable candles         initial sensation to the lasting base

                                            and not burn yourself,” says Richard          notes that we feel is most pleasant.”

                                            Roth, co-founder of Lumia Organic
                                            Inc. in Boulder, Colorado. “Some
      Wax facTS
                                            of the candles we make are selected
The National Candle Association                                                                  LiTTLe fueL PumPS
                                            by massage therapists for that very
estimates 1 billion pounds of wax is                                                      The National Candle Association
                                            purpose: they melt into massage oil.
used in candles sold in the United                                                        reports there are more than 100
                                            It’s a handy thing to have around. The
States each year, and 95 percent of those                                                 different types of wicks on the market
                                            wax in the candles is already warm
candles are made of paraffin wax.                                                         today, but most of them are made of
                                            and it’s not something you have to
     The industry group spokespeople                                                      braided or knitted fibers, usually cotton
                                            put into an oil heater. And if it spills,
insist that no candle wax has ever                                                        or a combination of cotton and paper.
                                            it cleans up with warm, soapy water
been shown to be toxic or harmful to                                                      The wick’s job is to absorb liquefied
                                            because it’s basically just vegetable oil.”
human health, even though paraffin                                                        wax and carry it up to the flame. In

is a petroleum by-product. But some                                                       essence, wicks act like little fuel pumps.
candlemakers—typically those who sell                                                         Some candlemakers warn shoppers
the 5 percent made out of something                The SenSe of ScenTS                    to beware the dangers of lead wicks. It’s
other than paraffin—question that.          About four out of every five candles          true that lead wicks can release toxic
At least one study, presented last          sold in this country are scented, though      chemicals, but the chances of finding a
year at the national meeting of the         most of them aren’t true aromatherapy         lead wick—at least in a candle sold in
American Chemical Society, indicates        candles, which use essential oils. Most       the United States—are extremely small.
that excessive use of paraffin candles      use synthetic aroma chemicals.                    “Basically, the candle industry in
in unventilated rooms can lead to               Still, well-made candles contain          the United States universally stopped
unhealthy levels of indoor air pollution.   only fragrances approved for candle           using metal wicks more than 20 years
     Air quality issues aside, makers       use. What makes for a pleasing                ago,” Roth says. “It’s rare to find
of non-paraffin candles say there are       scent is purely in the nose of the            a metal wick in any domestically-
other reasons to consider soy, vegetable,   smeller. But finding the right                produced candle. I can’t say the same
palm, or other kinds of waxes. Through      combinations of fragrances can                for imported candles, but the use of
the years, beeswax has been the gold        be akin to writing a symphony.                metal is very uncommon any more.”
standard for candles because it burns

76   massage & bodywork         may/june 2010
                                                                                      improved soil and less water pollution.
                                                                                      We’ve found non-organic commercial
                                                                                      agriculture quite troubling to us.
                                                                                          “I’d like to stress the fact that if
                                                                                      you believe in serving organic food on
                                                                                      your table, you should have an organic
                                                                                      candle on the table as well,” he says.
                                                                                          That’s a sentiment shared by
                                                                                      Closser. “I can’t get too righteous
                                                                                      about paraffin because I drive a gas
                                                                                      truck,” he says. “As long as we burn
                                          hasn’t been fully ignited by the
                                                                                      propane, diesel, and gasoline, there
                                          wick. That’s what causes soot.”
                                                                                      will be plenty of by-product left over.
                                             Beeswax doesn’t produce soot.
                                                                                      But on the other hand, one of the core
                                          That’s why, for centuries, churches
                                                                                      issues in our company is to support
                                          have burned only beeswax candles—to
                                                                                      organic farming, and so we’re trying
                                          avoid getting soot on the walls. “If they
                                                                                      to limit our use of petrochemicals.”
                                          burned paraffin candles in the Sistine

                                          Chapel, the artwork would have been

                                          destroyed in a generation,” Roth says.

                                                                                             coST and Burn Time
       The unWeLcome LefTover                                                         Cheap candles—typically imported
Candle soot is hardly a new                                                           from Asia—tend to burn fast
                                                 The vaLue of organic
phenomenon, but it went largely                                                       and unevenly. Investing in better
                                          There’s nothing inherently better
unnoticed until the advent of jar                                                     quality candles may, in fact,
                                          about a candle made from wax
candles, which became popular in                                                      save money in the long run.
                                          from organically-grown products.
the 1980s. Then, soot that otherwise                                                      “Chances are a more expensive
                                          Opting for organic products is
would have dispersed over a wide                                                      candle will burn longer, and will burn
                                          more a statement of values.
area suddenly became visibly trapped                                                  evenly all the way down,” says Dan
                                              “This is one of the leading areas
on the sides of the jar. It’s not                                                     Maurer, president of the SOI Company,
                                          where the organic movement can make
dangerous, but it is unsightly.                                                       a Walnut Creek, California, company
                                          strides in non-food products,” says
     “What happens is, in an apothecary                                               that sells soy-based products, including
                                          Roth, whose company buys exclusively
jar, the neck is narrower than the                                                    soy candles. “You may have heard of
                                          organic and not genetically-modified
sides, so the wick doesn’t get enough                                                 tunneling. You buy a jar candle and it
                                          vegetable oils for its candles. “We
oxygen surrounding it and it tends to                                                 burns right down the middle and you’re
                                          feel we’re doing our part to support
choke,” says Tom Closser, owner of                                                    left with all this residual wax on the
                                          the organic movement and organic
Aloha Bay, a Lower Lake, California,                                                  sides of the jar. That’s a bad candle.”
                                          agriculture, so farmers have another
maker of palm wax candles. “What
                                          market for their crops, and thereby
it coughs up is black carbon that
                                          bestow on all of us the benefit of

                                                       connect with your colleagues on 77
                                                                                                               ten for today

    Roth says that first-time buyers      wax contracts and pops off easily           markets a variety of flameless candles.
typically buy smaller candles, which      when it comes out of the freezer.           “The trick was to make something that

cost less but still offer high quality.                                               could run on a battery with the same
“After three or four months, we find                                                  characteristics as a real candle, the
the customer base shifts to some of                                                   same charm and ambience. That didn’t
                                                candLe SafeTy
our larger candles,” he says. “We                                                     happen overnight, and it still varies
                                          Candles can be dangerous. The U.S.
have one candle that retails for                                                      from manufacturer to manufacturer,
                                          Fire Administration estimates there
$19.95 that will burn for 120 hours.                                                  but nowadays, the nicest candles are so
                                          are an average of 17,400 home candle
The long-lasting candles become                                                       realistic, if you put them on your dinner
                                          fires each year, resulting in more
our best sellers because they’re so                                                   table people don’t know. They’ll pick
                                          than 1,500 injuries and almost 200
economical on a per-hour basis.”                                                      them up and try to blow them out.”
                                          deaths annually. More than half of

                                                                                          As with traditional candles, price is
                                          all candle fires start when something
                                                                                      the best indicator of quality. “You want
                                          flammable is left too close to a candle.
                                                                                      a candle that flickers correctly,” Marcos
      LefTover Wax                            To avoid a serious accident,
                                                                                      says. “Early on, a lot of these battery-
It’s one thing if you’re a Girl Scout     follow some basic rules:
                                                                                      operated candles, you’d think they were
trying to earn a merit badge. If so,      • Never leave burning candles
                                                                                      blinking out Morse Code. Getting
then by all means, round up all the          unattended.
                                                                                      that flicker right didn’t come easily.”
leftover candles you can find and         • Put them in sturdy holders that can’t
                                                                                          Small flameless candles
melt the wax to create a homemade            be easily knocked over, and place them
                                                                                      can be had for as little as $10.
gift for your mother. She’ll love it.        on stable, heat-resistant surfaces.
                                                                                      Nicer ones run $15–$25.
     But otherwise, recycling candles     • Never burn a candle on or near
                                                                                          The newest addition: remote-
rarely produces satisfactory results.        anything that can catch fire.
                                                                                      control candles and candles on
“It’s just not practical,” says Roth,     • Trim wicks to a quarter-inch in length
                                                                                      timers. “That allows you to place
who acknowledges that he, too, made          each time before burning.
                                                                                      candles in places it might not be easy
homemade candles as a child. “You’ll      • Keep burning candles away from drafts,
                                                                                      to get to, in little high-up nooks
be confronted with an unknown wax            vents, ceiling fans, and air currents.
                                                                                      and crannies,” Marcos says.

composition. Here, we have carefully
controlled composition of our wax.
                                                                                          Rebecca Jones is a Denver-
We do a lot of testing of our candles
                                                     high-Tech oPTionS                based freelance writer. Contact her
to make sure they burn properly.”
                                          One way to avoid the undeniable             at

                                          dangers candles pose is to go with
                                          flameless candles, which have become
       candLe care BaSicS                 deceptively beautiful in recent years.
Like anything made of wax, candles            “Candles have charm and
don’t tolerate heat well. “You don’t      everybody knows that,” says Sam
want them sitting in the hot sun,”        Marcos, general manager of www.
Weitzel says. Be wary of placing, which
burning candles too close together, for
the same reason. The heat from one
might melt the other. Keep burning
candles at least three inches apart.
    While the candles themselves don’t
require much maintenance, candle drips
are another matter. Drippings can be
removed from most candleholders by
running hot water over them. Be sure
to keep the water running to ensure
the wax runs through the pipes. An
alternative is to pop the holder in the
freezer for about an hour. The cold

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