Everybody loves relaxing with some atmospheric candlelight in the background, whether it is unwinding in the bath or a romantic meal with a loved one, candles can enhance our mood and lighten our souls. But what most do not realise is what they can do to our health. Most candles, even many of the luxury candles from top designer brands are made using paraffin, a by-product of crude oil production. Burning paraffin candles in unventilated spaces releases toxic chemicals and even carcinogens into the air, while nobody is suggesting that being in the presence of a candle for an hour or two will give you or your family cancer or breathing difficulties, over time it could increase the risks.
There are of course alternatives, many chandlers now produce soy wax candles, these avoid the harmful toxins and are a good alternative, however sourcing materials from genetically modified crops does not sit well with many. If you do not have a problem with GMOs then soy is perhaps for you.
Palm oil is great for candles, producing fantastic burn times and taking on scents easily, however there is a devastating side effect to the use of palm oil in products and that is to the world’s rainforests. Palm oil production is the number one risk to the endangerment of Orangutans. For most, this is not a price worth paying so the number of palm oil candles on the market is limited.
Beeswax is the most natural of all candle materials and has been used for millennia. Nature provides here with a sustainable but expensive by-product of honey production. Beeswax candles have a lovely natural scent but cannot be mixed with other scents. They are also yellow in colour which is not to the taste of all. Beeswax is a great option for candles if you are looking for candlelight the old fashioned way and are not concerned about different aromas or aesthetics.
Finally, rapeseed wax candles produce similar advantages to soy wax but do not come from GM crops, nor do they rack up the air miles that soy wax does coming from North America. Rapeseed is widely available as a natural crop around the UK and Europe and has recently gained culinary respect for its benefits as a cooking oil. If it is good enough for our food it should be good enough for our candles. Rapeseed candles burn clean with no soot, last longer and are more eco-friendly than palm oil, soy and paraffin. Candles made using rapeseed are slightly more expensive than soy, but for something that combines excellent results with the health and ecological benefits it is the winner when it comes to luxury scented candles.