Candle Ingredients 101: How To Choose The Best Quality Candle
Not all candles are created equally. With a plethora of waxes, wicks and fragrances out there, how can you tell what really makes up the best quality candle? From smoking, sparking, uneven burning and more, there’s a lot to be concerned about when you’re lighting a flame in your home. We’re breaking down what makes the best quality candle.
The first thing you want to consider is the wax. Typically, candles are made from paraffin wax, which is made from petroleum oil and produces harmful byproducts when burned or melted. While paraffin is very affordable and easy to use, it is not very eco-friendly and can deposit a lot of soot onto your walls and ceilings. Additionally, studies have shown that paraffin wax fumes can cause severe adverse effects on the eyes and respiratory system.
Alternatively, soy wax is a great choice health-wise, scent-wise and it’s eco-friendly. Soy burns slowly, which results in less soot and smoke, allowing you to enjoy your candle fragrance for longer. Also, since soy burns so cleanly, the scents are stronger and more pure.
Soy does not release toxins into the air, while paraffin is known to release 11 known toxins (two of which are carcinogens) into the air. This is incredibly important to note especially if you live with children and pets. Furthermore, soy is made from soybeans, a renewable resource, which makes it environmentally friendly.
Note: Be wary of candles that are “blends” as they will often list only the main ingredient. For example, a "soy blend" candle is usually a blend of soy and paraffin. Look for candles that are 100% soy or list an ingredient breakdown.
The type of wick used in a candle can affect how evenly it burns, how fast it burns and how much smoke and soot come from your candle. Wicks used to contain a lead core, which can cause lead poisoning, but they have been banned since 2003.
Most wicks are made from cotton with a paper, zinc, tin or cotton core. Cotton wicks are generally the best if you want to avoid soot, smoke and flaring. Zinc and tin cores have been tested safe, but can often lead to high temperature burning and cause flaring and mushroom wicks. This can make your candles burn too fast, flare up and create unsafe flames.
The best quality candles will have a wick that is the right size and construction for the candle. You can tell your candle has a good wick if it burns cleanly, evenly, and creates a pool of liquid wax all the way across the surface of the candle within 2 to 4 hours.
How good a candle smells is definitely a matter of personal taste, but there are certain things candle makers can do to ensure that you are getting the best version of the scent they’ve designed. For example, what are the fragrances made out of?
There are a lot of misconceptions about fragrance and the oils—both synthetic and natural—that make them up. Firstly, it’s important to note that everything in the world is a chemical. From the food you eat to the air you breathe, nothing is chemical-free. When people hear the word chemical they often think of the word “toxic” but toxicity is really a matter of dosage. For example, water is all natural but people have died from water intoxication. Both natural and synthetic oils can be toxic—in certain doses. Simply put, there aren’t enough fragrance oils in candles to cause harm.
Almost all luxury candle companies use a combination of natural and synthetic fragrance oils. This gives depth and complexity to fragrances and expands the range of raw materials available to perfumers. It also allows fragrances to be more consistent from batch to batch.
By using synthetic oils, fragrances can be vegan and cause less allergies. Many natural and essential oils are traditionally made from animal byproducts. For example, musk is made from animal glands while synthetic versions of musk are cruelty-free. You are also less likely to be allergic to the synthetic version of many fragrance oils, and perfumers will often choose synthetics for this reason alone.
Synthetic fragrances are often identical in molecular structure to its natural counterpart. Just because something is synthetic, doesn’t mean it is bad. Synthetic really just means “man-made." Using synthetic fragrances allows for innovation, which is a fantastic thing for fragrance and for the environment. For example, if you loved the fragrance of a rare plant, it’d be much better for the survival of that plant to innovate a synthetic version as opposed to killing it off.
Now that you know what makes a great quality candle, how do Bijou candles stack up? We’re incredibly proud to say that our candles are made thoughtfully, artfully and with the best quality ingredients on the market. We use 100% soy wax, pure cotton wicks and carefully curated blends of natural and synthetic fragrance oils. Rest assured that we have considered all of your candle needs. From wick to wax to whiff and beyond, when you light up a Bijou, you’re lighting up some magic!