What’s the Healthiest Candle?

by Head Health Nutter on January 8, 2011

Did you know that most of the candles on the market are toxic? But candle-light is so elegant, so relaxing… there must be a healthier alternative. There is! In today’s post we learn about beeswax candles and why health-conscious families choose them.

One of the best Christmas presents I ever received was an Original Pheylonian Beeswax Candle. These particular homemade Canadian candles (sold worldwide) use 100% pure cappings beeswax so they are completely natural, non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-carcinogenic and actually clean the air much like plants do!

Although they are more expensive, they’re also more cost-effective due to a high melting point (approximately 145F°). According to the candle makers, who compared the most expensive paraffin or veg wax to beeswax, found their Pheylonian candles burn 40 to 80% cheaper per minute, translating into an average of 10 cents per hour.

Beeswax also gives off a natural, relaxing, sweet smell and is both smokeless and dripless (two properties not found together in any other animal or mineral wax).

And these are just the highlights! But before we explain how beeswax purifies the air and list even more potential benefits, let’s review some facts about other types of wax.

Why is Paraffin Unhealthy?

Breathing the fumes from burning paraffin candles is essentially the same as breathing the exhaust fumes from a diesel engine.

According to a study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (used to support soy farming), burned paraffin candles emit many pollutants including benzene, toluene and ketones, all of which have been linked to asthma, cancer and birth defects. (Source: NYDailyNews.com)

Paraffin is the non-renewable, inexpensive grayish black ooze and crud (by-products) from gas and petroleum refineries. It’s then treated and bleached with chemical solvents to clean it up for use in candles. When paraffin wax, sterno and liquid paraffin are burned, they release deadly chemicals, fluro carbons and dioxins into the air.

Then, since burning petrochemical paraffin is so stinky, synthetic fragrances are added, many of which are irritating, reduce olfactory sensitivity and are toxic themselves when burned.

If these chemicals weren’t enough, those who sell beeswax candles claim that all paraffin has a chemical component used to solidify the wax called `acrolyn,’ and variations of it, which they say is a proven carcinogen. Apparently, this solidifier is also used in vegetable and soy wax candles.

Note: I gave up after about 30 minutes of online research trying to find another type of source (one without a vested interest) to back this up.

For an interesting read, the Pheylonian beeswax candle makers tell a story about acrolyn, explain how toxic paraffin candles are and warn us how current laws allow companies to label candles as `pure beeswax’ using as little as 10% beeswax.

Negative Ions: Nature’s Air Purifier

Nature produces negative ions through lightening storms, moving water like the ocean, waterfalls, rivers, etc. and by wind passing through forests. It cleanses the air of pollutants (dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, viruses, odours and toxins) through an electrical process.

Annie Bond in her Care2.com article explains:

Air contains billions of electrically charged particles called ions. Ions act upon our capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen, and therefore cause powerful effects on our lives and well being. The ions in the air can affect our mood, energy and health. Negative ions actually feel good. Too many positive ions make us feel bad and they are loaded down with pollution and allergens that are drawn to them and suspended in the air. Negative ions, on the other hand, remove the pollution and allergens from positive ions, allowing them to drop harmlessly to the ground.

Beeswax candle fuel is the only fuel that actually produces negative ions, which not only helps remove pollution from the air but increases the ratio of negative ions to positive ions, the ideal and necessary scenario for clean air.

Beeswax Produce Negative Ions

The last part of Ms. Bond’s quote, “beeswax candle fuel is the only fuel that actually produces negative ions” appears to be debatable according to the results of a recent Japanese study reported by fellow blogger Jane from Simple, Sustainable, Nature.

Although the study proves beeswax emits negative ions when burned, it also found that even paraffin candles emit negative ions, but at a significantly lower volume.

Either way, when I burn my beeswax candle (usually in the bathroom when soaking in a hot tub), I notice a significant difference in air quality. Especially compared to burning a paraffin candle! I did so last night and not only was the scent stifling, when I extinguished the candle I all but choked on the smoke.


Apparently, you can actually see how polluted your air is when burning a beeswax candle! Valerie Reiss blogged about how one beeswax candle maker (though, the link to their site was dead when I tried it) said the dustier your home, the more “black debris” will collect around the wick. I checked my candle – all’s good!

And the Pheylonian beeswax candle makers warn: “Do not burn paraffin at the same time as you burn beeswax. Due to the negative ion properties of pure beeswax, the black soot from the paraffin will become all to evident on your ceilings, walls and all static surfaces such as vinyl windows, computers, etc.”

Negative Ions & Health

Intuitively, the cleaner the air, the healthier. But I didn’t get that far in the research.

However, Dr. Jonathan Wright reports anecdotal research on his TahomaClinicBlog about how people claim beeswax candles provide relief of allergies, sinus problems and asthma. He also supports Ms. Bond’s conclusions, claims tainted beeswax doesn’t have the health benefits of 100% pure beeswax candles, and admits he’s affiliated with a beeswax candle company.

But if you want to go pure beeswax, just in case…

The makers of my Pheylonian beeswax candle promise their “candles are made of 100% Cappings Beeswax. Cappings are the thin layer of pure beeswax which seal in the fresh honey into each comb. Beekeepers remove this to extract the honey. This is all we buy and use.”

They also suggest that these hair-thin cappings wax, compared to the rest of the honeycomb, is the most “desirable, pure, air-cleansing wax, perfectly created by the honey bees, in conjunction with Mother Nature herself.”

They still make their candles like their ancestors who came from the Carpathian Mountains in the Ukraine to Canada in the early 1900’s! Read their rich family story here.

Although others may need more research before investing in beeswax candles, I vote all-natural is healthier! I love my Pheylonian beeswax candle and suggest you try one yourself (visit their e-shop when you’re ready).

Do you have a beeswax candle? Have you noticed any difference when you burn one compared with another type of candle?

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