Candle making is a lot of trial and error in perfecting your candles. Many candle enthusiasts have experiences worth sharing with newbies in the craft. That is why you should never believe the numerous candle making misconceptions you hear or read on the internet. Below are some of those misconceptions and the appropriate explanations for why they are false thoughts and are not scientifically supported by evidence.
- 1. Some Candles are Smoke-Free: The Biggest Candle Misconception
- 2. Scented Candles are Less Safe than Unscented Ones: A Totally False Statement
- 3. Freezing Candles Make It Burn Longer: A Myth
- 4. Some Candles Still Contain Lead Wicks: Worry No More!
- 5. All Soy Candles are 100% Natural: A Test of Purity
- 6. Soy Wax is Perfect for Pillar Candles and Votives: You May Need to Use Other Waxes on These
- 7. Soy Candles Have Poor Scent Throw: A Twisted Candle Belief
- 8. Candle Wax is Made from Harmful Chemicals: Then We Wouldn’t Have Candles Today
- 9. Soy Wax is Water Soluble: A Basic Science and You’ll Know This is False
- 10. All Scented Candles are Aromatherapy Candles: We Wish They Are!
- 11. Melted Soy Wax Doesn’t Burn on the Skin: It Still Stings!
- 12. Essential Oils are Safer to Use than Fragrance Oils: Not When You Have Allergies
- 13. Candle Soot is Harmful: An Old Tale
- 14. One Candle Wax is Better than the Other: Preference Always Wins
- 15. Triple Scented Candles Featuring Thrice the Scent Throw: A False Marketing Term
1. Some Candles are Smoke-Free: The Biggest Candle Misconception
This statement is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about candles. Candles, no matter what ingredients you incorporate into them, will still produce smoke because all candle waxes are essentially composed of hydrocarbon molecules, hydrogen, and carbon.
All properly made and well-burning candles produce a little smoke now and then but not continuous. If your candle produces excessive smoke throughout its burn time, you should evaluate your candle for possible causes.
One possible culprit of candle smoking is the draft. Candles burn best in a place with still air. When the candle is exposed to too much or little air, the flame’s ideal teardrop shape would be disturbed, making it flicker and causing smoking.
Avoid this by placing your candles in a well-ventilated area, away from drafts, vents, or strong air currents.
The wick may contribute to the excess production of smoke on candles. Longer wicks make candles burn unevenly, causing excessive soot and smoke. You can prevent this by always trimming the wick at ¼ inch every lighting.
If the smoking candle is in a container like a candle lantern or vase, the probable cause would be the container’s size being too small for the candle. When the oxygen being burned by the candle and the heated warm air meets, the two air flows disrupt each other, causing draft and smoking of the candle.
2. Scented Candles are Less Safe than Unscented Ones: A Totally False Statement
People perceive scented candles as less safe compared to unscented ones, probably because of the addition of fragrance or essential oils, which may smell bad when burned in a candle.
The scent made by these fragrances may also cause allergic reactions to some. However, it is proven that there are no known health hazards associated with scented candles.
While scented candles produce vapors and particles considered unsafe in high doses, research has backed it up that the typical burning of scented candles only produces small amounts of vapors, which are far from being a health risk for users.
For instance, a study published in 2014. Researchers burned scented paraffin candles in rooms of different sizes. After four hours of continued burning, they found out that some harmful chemicals produced were less than half as the recommended indoor air-quality limits set by the World Health Organization.
The study concludes that on the occasional use of scented candles, the amount of produced chemicals would not be harmful to your health.
3. Freezing Candles Make It Burn Longer: A Myth
Freezing your candles will not make them burn longer. On the contrary, it may damage the candle and crack it. If the candles are left longer in the freezer, chances are the wick would draw out the wax’s natural moisture, making the candle dry and not burn well.
The sudden temperature change from room temperature to cold temperature would produce wet spots on your candle. The moisture pockets in the candle and wick may result in tunneling, or when only a small portion of wax melts around the wick creating a small, vertical tunnel in the middle top surface of the candle.
Freezing a candle to prevent it from melting quickly when burned will not do any good. It will be bad for the candle’s wax memory and may only encourage tunneling. It may seem like the candle is burning slowly and may last longer. What happens is the candle wax melts differently, causing a wax pool on the candle, which may further result in large flames.
4. Some Candles Still Contain Lead Wicks: Worry No More!
Lead wicks were formally banned in 2003 as being identified as a public health concern by the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Candle Association has already refrained from using lead wicks since the 1970s, years prior to its banning.
Hence, there is no reason to be concerned about the toxicity of candle wicks, as they are guaranteed to be non-toxic and safe for everyone. The metals you see in candle wicks may have been zinc, which is completely harmless.
Lead is put in candle wicks to make them stand up straighter, and the candle to burn better. However, when lead wicks are burned, the chemical evaporates into the air, which can later be inhaled and cause harm to your health.
The decision to ban lead wicks is not abrupt, though. The action was made after 30-long years of the candle industry’s supposed self-regulation of its use. Despite its many benefits to candle making, we cannot miss the fact that the chemical is bad for our health.
If you’re still not convinced that leads wicks are long gone, there is a simple way to prove it. Just rub a white paper on an unburned wick. If the wick leaves a gray pencil-like mark on your paper, you should be worried about lead content, but if there isn’t any mark, then your wick is all safe to use.
5. All Soy Candles are 100% Natural: A Test of Purity
Many soy candles in the market are not 100% pure soy. Soy wax is a soft candle wax with lower melting points, causing it to burn faster. Candle making companies would often blend it to other waxes or add additives such as chemical hardeners to make it harder and slow-burning.
Candles are also added with fragrance oils, which we know are not natural. Even soy candles infused with essential oils are not all-natural, as the wax is chemically produced from soybean.
Soy wax undergoes a mechanical process to separate the soybean content from the oil. Then, the oil is refined, bleached, and heated to 140-220 degrees Celsius in the hydrogenating machine.
The wax is chemically distilled with hexane, bleached with chlorine, deodorized with boric acid, and hydrogenated. After these processes, the natural soybean has now been chemically processed to become soy wax.
6. Soy Wax is Perfect for Pillar Candles and Votives: You May Need to Use Other Waxes on These
This statement is absolutely false. Soy wax is naturally soft, sticky, and burns faster than other waxes. Hence, it is not suitable for molded candles like pillars and votives. It is, however, great for container candles.
Since pillars and votives are generally stand-alone candles, they need a harder wax base that will not melt quicky when lit. Pillar candles and votives are best made from palm wax, beeswax, or paraffin wax.
Palm wax allows you to create candles of unique textures like crystallization or feathering patterns. These designs were made possible because of the wax’s natural hard and durable texture that holds any shape and design.
Paraffin wax is an inexpensive alternative for pillars and votives. This wax is widely used across different candle brands because of its versatility. Its various melting points allow for making different types of candles.
Beeswax is a harder and more solid wax often used for blends of container and pillar candles. However, this wax is a more expensive choice than paraffin or soy wax.
7. Soy Candles Have Poor Scent Throw: A Twisted Candle Belief
Soy wax is a natural wax with a lower melting point and blends well with fragrance oils. It holds more fragrance compared to other waxes and gives off a strong scent throw. However, in the criteria of scent throw, paraffin wax always leads.
Aside from being one of the most inexpensive candle wax, paraffin is also number one to provide optimum scent throw. The wax can hold high amounts of fragrances, as well as colors. Paraffin wax’s various melts points are perfect for different types of candles, all with the best scents you can incorporate.
8. Candle Wax is Made from Harmful Chemicals: Then We Wouldn’t Have Candles Today
Candles are usually made from soy, paraffin, or beeswax, which fuels the candle flame. Researchers claim that candle waxes, especially paraffin, release harmful chemicals such as toluene. If this statement is true, we wouldn’t be enjoying all kinds of candles today.
However, this study was questioned by the National Candle Association as it is not published, and it was never verified that the candles tested were actually soy or paraffin candles.
Furthermore, the researcher’s claim in finding trichloroethylene in the candles could not have been produced in combustion since paraffin doesn’t have the content to produce it. This clearly shows no basis to say that candle wax or candles, in general, are toxic.
9. Soy Wax is Water Soluble: A Basic Science and You’ll Know This is False
Soy wax is not water-soluble, just like any other wax, as it is by definition, unlike other candle making waxes like paraffin and beeswax that stick well to containers and are hard to remove from the surface. People thought soy wax was water-soluble because of its characteristic of being easily wiped with water.
While it is true that you can easily clean soy wax with soap and warm water, it will not mix with water and be dissolved in it. One thing that causes the easy cleaning of soy wax would be its natural soft characteristics.
10. All Scented Candles are Aromatherapy Candles: We Wish They Are!
Scented candles are great mood boosters, but not all qualify to be aromatherapy candles. With regards to aromatherapy candles, they are made with natural essential oils and wax blends.
Fragrances used for aromatherapy are chosen carefully. Essential oils incorporated in aromatherapy candles are concentrated substances from plants and resins. These scents are relaxing and have some healing and health benefits coming from natural ingredients.
Evidence suggests that essential oils such as clary sage, bergamot, and ylang-ylang may ease stress and are great additions to aromatherapy candles.
11. Melted Soy Wax Doesn’t Burn on the Skin: It Still Stings!
While soy wax has a lower melting point (just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit), it still can get as high as 200 degrees or more, which burns your skin when you get in contact with it.
The lower melting point means that your wax melts a little quicker when placed on heat compared to other waxes like paraffin or beeswax. In this case, the melted soy wax won’t burn your skin at all.
However, the wax’s melting point is not the highest temperature it can get. So, soy wax can still burn when it exceeds the proper amount of temperature it can hold.
12. Essential Oils are Safer to Use than Fragrance Oils: Not When You Have Allergies
Essential oils are extracted from natural ingredients such as flowers, herbs, and spices. You may think they are the safest scents to use in your candles, but that is not always true. Essential oils are very concentrated and may pose some health concerns when not used properly.
The concentrated essential oils may not be good for sensitive skin, especially if used in excessive amounts. On the other hand, fragrance oils are chemically produced scent specifically made for candles. They have a great scent throw and are also safe to use.
When it comes to candle scents, no one scent beats the other. Both essential oils and fragrance oils are perfect to use as they are both specifically made for candles. Just always remember to incorporate the right amount of scents (no more than ten percent) to produce well-burning candles.
13. Candle Soot is Harmful: An Old Tale
Soot is a naturally occurring substance in candles. It is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of fuel and does not pose any health concern at all. Soot is produced when the candle wax is not sufficient to fuel the wick, causing a larger flame and producing soot.
This is similar to the soot produced by kitchen toasters and cooking oils, which we know are not harmful to our health. It is not the same soot produced by burning diesel fuel, coal, or gasoline, which is chemically unsafe.
If it still bothers you that there is soot in your candles, you can reduce them by trimming the wick to its proper size. Trim the wick at ¼ inch before every use to ensure the proper flame height to burn your candle evenly.
Avoid placing candles in draft areas to prevent flame flickering that would further lead to the production of more soot.
14. One Candle Wax is Better than the Other: Preference Always Wins
Candle enthusiasts often say that natural waxes like beeswax and soy wax are better than paraffin or other candle making waxes. This is because of the natural content present in these ingredients.
While this is not completely false, studies have proven that all well-made candles, no matter what wax used, exhibit the same clean-burning qualities without the risk of exposure to chemicals or harming people using the candles.
In addition to that, no one type of wax can cater to all types of candles as each has different pros and cons. The way you choose your wax depends on the type of candle you’ll produce and the amount of fragrance you’ll use.
Most candles are also produced by mixing or blending different kinds of wax.
15. Triple Scented Candles Featuring Thrice the Scent Throw: A False Marketing Term
Triple scented is a marketing term used to describe candles with a scent throw three times stronger than normal scented candles. It means candle makers incorporated three times the normal amount you’ll find in other candles.
For example, old candle making industries would incorporate 3% fragrance to their candles, which when tripled is 9%. However, using 9% fragrance has become a standard in the new industry. Tripling this amount would be 27% fragrance in your candles.
Incorporating this much amount into your candles is not achievable. Candle waxes can only tolerate up to 12% fragrances, and the rest would be either pushed out of the candle or pooled at the candle container.
Putting excessive fragrance oils does not guarantee a stronger scent throw. On the contrary, these oils may clog your candle wick producing weaker scents. Furthermore, these oils may not bind completely to the wax and will just become a hazard as fragrance oils are highly flammable.
Candle making is a field you need years of experience to master. It will take numerous tries to prove that some methods are working and some are not. You just need to make sure that all the things you practice in candle making are based on proven facts and not opinions without basis. Fortunately, with all this information shared by experienced candle makers and backed with Science, you wouldn’t be lost in your candle making journey.