Bedtime Rituals for Better Sleep

final face & swet dreams

As children, bedtime rituals are instilled in us from a young age. Our parents teach us brush our teeth, take a bath, get our PJs on, and read a story to us before we go to sleep. As we get older and adolescence sets in, a consistent set of bedtime habits usually falls to the wayside. Sure, as adults we still brush our teeth and shower– but we often stay up late, use our smartphones 24/7, get stressed out, watch TV before bed, and eat at odd hours.

Sleep plays an important role in our health. It strengthens our immune system, cardiovascular health, helps us recuperate from ailments and injuries, keeps our memories sharp, regulates our weight and mood. To stay on point and well rested, I have been updating my bedtime routine. I turn off all my screens at least 30 minutes before bed. This includes not only the TV and laptop, but also my smartphone. I light the Sweet Dreams candle on my bedside table. I practice a sequence of floor stretches/yoga to stretch out my spine, legs and shoulders.  I cuddle up with my favorite book and read until my eyelids grow  heavy and extinguish the candle before I fall asleep. What do you do before bed for a good night’s rest?

Charlie and The Candle Factory

realscents

The other day, a business associate (Charlie) happened to be in our neck of the woods (which is definitely a neck of the woods!).  Naturally, I invited him to stop by the candle factory.  “Well, I have some bad news…” he replied.  “My wife and I actually have a ‘fragrance-free household.’ We are so sensitive to scents that we only receive magazines that offer a fragrance-free version, we only use certain fragrance-free skincare products, and so on.  Scented products give us migraines (or worse) and if we go into a store that sells Brand X candles, we instantly have to leave.”

Me too, Charlie! Me too!  The claims that are so often repeated by other brands (‘naturally scented’ or ‘pure aromatherapy’) end up leaving sensitive people wary of ALL scents, and understandably so.

So rather than talk about it, I said “Charlie, we’re different. But all I’m asking is that you come to the factory. If you can’t come in the door or if at any point find that you’re experiencing any irritation/sensitization, the tour will be over.”

Charlie tentatively got out of his car. We came through the entrance and he trailed behind, slowly waiting for the assault on his senses that occurs while flipping through magazines in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, or walking down the cleaning products aisle at the grocery store.  After a minute or two, I asked him how he was doing. “Fine?” he answered incredulously.  “I can smell a fragrant aroma, but it’s not like I expected…”

I could tell he was having a hard time processing the fact that he was surrounded by thousands of candles, drums of essential oils and indeed, a present and very real aroma; yet he couldn’t identify any of the usual negative effects.  Headache? No. Watery eyes? No.  Respiratory irritation? No.  And then, a smile of enlightenment appeared.  These candles are unlike any others he’d experienced.  And then he started having fun!  Charlie eagerly smelled each of our 30+ candle aromas and happily exclaimed things like “These are so clean!” and “It really smells like the plant!”.

For the next hour, we had the pleasure of explaining the differences between synthetic fragrances and unadulterated and completely intact pure botanical essences.  I showed him our small essential oil distilling apparatus (for fun, not for actually meeting our supply needs!). I showed him a 55-gallon drum of Lavender essential oil and explained the premium we pay for our ingredients, as opposed to synthetic fragrances.blankcandles2

We talked about “unscented” conventional products that actually contain synthetic fragrances to mask other chemical scents. We talked about “trade secrets” and the lack of labeling when it comes to mainstream personal care and cleaning products. We discussed intentionally vague words like “parfum” or “fragrance” that can mean any combination of petrochemical and phthalate-laden toxic ingredients.

We talked about health. We talked about the need for labeling requirements. We talked about how revolutionary it is to create truly authentic products in a world where chemicals are the norm. So, I’d like to take a moment to give thanks to the plant world; thanks to plant-based purity and thanks those who stick to their guns to create products with integrity.  There are some real heroes out there (Dr. Bronner’s, Urban Moonshine, Badger, Pangea, Weleda, Mountain Rose Herbs and more!)

And to all those who are chemically-sensitive, be proud of your bodies’ recognition of poison.  Just because the majority of the population is slowly becoming chemically desensitized doesn’t mean that the products on store shelves are safe.

To continue reading about this topic:

Dr. Aviva Romm recently wrote a great article about body burden and ways to reduce our exposure to toxins. (“Body burden refers to the total amount of toxic chemicals in your body at a given time, or the amount of a single chemical, for example, arsenic, lead, mercury, or PCB, to name just a few.”)  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7689/5-tips-to-reduce-your-exposure-to-toxins-and-lose-a-few-pounds-in-the-process.html

http://www.safecosmetics.org/downloads/NotTooPretty_report.pdf

February 2013 report from Women’s Voices for the Earth about how fragrance allergens harm public health: http://www.womensvoices.org/science/reports/secret-scents/

We’ve also written about our dedication to essential oils on our website:

http://www.wayoutwax.com/approach/why_essential_oils.html

http://www.wayoutwax.com/approach/aromatherapy.html

NEW: Colored Glass Votives Candles are Back!

colored glass votives

We’ve all been missing our pretty little colored glass votives since they went out of stock many months ago.  The glass manufacturer discontinued making the glass we had been using, so we embarked on an extensive search to find a different, yet equally lovely glass to pour our soy wax votives into.  We searched high and low, near and far, and finally found something that we love.  We hope that you will love them too!

As with all of our products, we only scent these using 100% pure essential oils, so you can enjoy all the benefits of aromatherapy without synthetic fragrances or candle dyes.   With these little gems, we can now offer a beautiful colored candle to compliment your decor without having to sacrifice the highest quality ingredients.  This new glass is a little bigger than the previous version and comes in translucent, rather than opaque colors, which brings a jewel-like glow when the candle is burning.

In addition to our 6 synergy scents from the Green Mountain Collection, we’ve also added 2 of our best selling single scents, lavender and sage, to the line!

lavender and sage

Also, for a limited time only, we are offering our holiday candles in this style.  Get them in Purely Peppermint, Cozy Home and Northern Forest, perfect for setting the mood during your holiday festivities and great for a relaxing night in too!  These make perfect stocking stuffers and gifts for everyone on your list.  holiday candles

Don’t forget to reuse or recycle the glass!  Once your candle has burned through, simply wash the container out with warm, soapy water and you can reuse it with one of our tea lights (holiday versions available here!) or votives.

We’re 20!

ImageHappy 20th birthday to us!  Way Out Wax was founded in 1992 with a vision to produce handcrafted works of art while utilizing socially and environmentally responsible business practices.  This means we’ve been in the biz for 20 years and we are celebrating!

Our products are a reflection of our beautiful, natural surroundings and the lifestyles of those who make them; embracing good health and maintaining the balance with nature.  We firmly believe in the “Triple Bottom Line” (People, Planet…then, Profit) and strive to create an alternative working atmosphere where creativity, flexibility and respect are given top priority.  It is our goal to build lasting friendships with our customers, our community!

It all began selling tie-dyed t-shirts at rock concerts.  Making a tie-dyed candle was a natural and profitable progression.  So in 1992, Jim Rossiter and a some dear friends began making candles under the name Way Out Wax.  The Kaleidoscopes and other Tie-Dyed candles grew steadily in popularity and had made quite a name for themselves by 1995 when Jim became increasingly aware that colorful candles aren’t in harmony with a healthy lifestyle.  Candle dyes, though beautiful, are unfortunately highly toxic and are proven to release a number of known toxins and carcinogens into the air while a candle is burning.  A company full of people who pride themselves on recycling, carpooling, eating organic food, and being environmentally conscious felt the need to apply principles of healthy living to every aspect of their lives, including the candles they make!

So, the Kaleidoscopes were bid a fond farewell and a new plan was hatched.  Working in conjunction with a certified aromatherapist, Way Out Wax decided to pursue all-natural aromatherapy candles.  Already skilled in the mechanics of candle making (thanks to the Kaleidoscope-days), we now could concentrate on sourcing pure botanical essential oils and the finest, all-natural wax blends. The results were what you see now.  We launched a line of single scent aromatherapy candles along with a line of synergy blends created by our friend and mentor, certified aromatherapist Wendy Dorsey. (The header image of this post is a picture of some of the first aromatherapy candles!)

Today, Way Out Wax still remains more committed than ever to providing an environmentally friendly candle in an increasingly toxic world!  We stick to scenting all of our products with 100% pure essential oils.  We use only unbleached cotton or hemp wicks with a paper core and refuse to add any candle dyes or synthetics.  We strive to reduce our ecological footprint while providing an affordable, practical, and uncompromised aromatherapy experience.

We have a lot of fun enjoying delicious aromas while proving that candles can be both beautiful and natural.  We thank you for reading and hope you enjoy our products as much as we do.  We are excited to keep the positive vibes flowing and this anniversary is a great inspiration for all of our future endeavors!

We invite you to come celebrate this anniversary with us!  “Like” us on Facebook to participate in our daily giveaways !  Visit our web site, fill up your cart with delicious goodies and enter “soy” in the coupon code box at check out and celebrate with us while saving 20% on your non-GMO soy wax candles!

Identifying a Clean Candle: Part 3- Dyes and Fragrances

This blog post is part 3 in a series.  Click here to read part 1 and here to read part 2.

Candle additives such as dyes and fragrances are non-essential ingredients in a candle, but they are the things that attract people to purchase a candle.  This area of ingredients is where a manufacturers’ claim of purity can be questionable as most of these additives are synthetic (chemicals) and may contain toxins.

In the beginning, Way Out Wax started out making brightly colored, psychedelic, tie-dyed “kaleidoscope” candles (pictured above) almost 20 years ago.  But, soon after the company began, the owner became increasingly aware that the brightly colored candle his company was producing were not consistent with the healthy, environmentally friendly lifestyles of those who created them.  Check out the full story of Way Out Wax’s history here.

Ever since that farewell to chemical dyes at Way Out Wax, we’ve been searching for and testing candle dyes that claim to be “all-natural” to no avail.  Bekro, the largest candle color supplier has even been quoted as saying that unfortunately, all-natural candle dyes just don’t exist.

Although there are natural, organic and plant derived dyes used in soaps and cosmetics, these are all water-soluble and candle dyes need to be oil-soluble.  Candle dyes are usually aniline dyes (chemical) with very scary MSDS (Manufacturers Safety Data Sheet).  Therefore, we choose not to use them in our candles as we choose health over aesthetics.  We know that everything that is put into a candle is eventually dissipated into the air and inhaled by you, your pets, and your loved ones.  If a brightly colored candle claims to have its color derived from an “all-natural” or “eco-friendly” dye, we encourage you to ask the manufacturer for more information about the origins and contents of that dye.

That being said, some of our candles are not the pure white of the wax and take on the subtle color of the essential oil that they contain.  If you look at the below picture, you’ll see that our patchouli votives have a brownish tinge. This coloring is from the patchouli essential oil, which is brown, although the color can vary a bit from batch to batch.  Other essential oils we use, such as orange, which is pressed from the orange peel, can also give the candle slight variations in color.

Speaking of essential oils, when it comes to candle scents, be aware of the distinct difference between a “fragrance oil” vs. an “essential oil.”  Essential oils are extracted directly from parts of a plant and have therapeutic properties.  Fragrance oils may be made of synthetic chemicals mixed with some form of natural oils or may be completely synthetic.  Again, this is something we would strongly encourage you to question the candle maker about.

In this 2001 study, the EPA reported that synthetic fragrances were shown to cause “possible mutagenic and genotoxic effects.”  Synthetic fragrances have also been shown to contain hormone disruptors which are linked to abnormal cell reproduction and may result in tumor growth.  These chemically-derived fragrances can also trigger allergy-like symptoms and respiratory distress for thousands of people with fragrance sensitivities.  According to this study from the University of West Georgia,  over 30% of the U.S. population reported adverse effects (such as headaches, sneezing, runny nose, etc.) from exposure to synthetically scented products.

True aromatherapy products will use only pure botanical therapeutic grade essential oils.  Aura Cacia is a reputable supplier of these oils and by visiting their web site you can learn about many of the scents that are available as essential oils.  Candles with scents such as “pumpkin spice,” “sugar cookie,”  and “ocean waves” will all be created using synthetic fragrances, as there are no botanical or essential oils of those scents in nature.

Although it is much more costly, we choose to only use essential oils to scent our candles.  Visit this page to learn why we feel so strongly about this and check out this blog post to learn why we don’t offer some of the most popular candle scents: vanilla, jasmine and rose.

If walls had ears…

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They’d have heard their fair share of music and laughter from our crew over the last 16 years!

Today we shut the door to the old factory on Harrel Street for the last time.

Moving often brings a nostalgic, bittersweet mix of emotions and a decade and a half in one space is a long time.   While we are so excited for all that the future holds, we feel it is important to stop and reflect.

A constantly evolving (and sometimes revolving) set of folks have spent months or years at Harrel Street and, together, we became part of a funky and fragrant mythology.   Over the years, we’ve employed glass blowers, carpenters, crafters, painters, storytellers, skydivers, comedians, inventors and many damn fine candlemakers.  Not always, but sometimes (more often than the national average!), there is just the right mix of music, world views, life experiences and timing to produce a sort of alchemical environment.  I am honored to say that we experienced this phenomenon in multiple manifestations.   You know who you are!

So, today, we are thinking back on all the fine folks that have been along for the ride.   With a pitcher of hot wax in hand, we’ve probed the mysteries of the universe and all grown up a little along the way.  It is with a grateful heart that we think of all you Waxers, both past and present!  Please know that today we sang a song and danced a dance in your honor.

Hey diddle diddle
to the people in the middle
we got HOT WAX
and it’s cookin’ on the griddle
Got the guitar strummin’
the drummer drummin’
the people all hummin’
and the vibe was lovin’
on and on and on
’til the breakadawn

(- Michael Franti)

It’s official.  We’ve packed up our aromatic carnival and headed north. Come visit us at our lovely new digs.  We’ve got lots of memories to create!

Identifying a Clean Candle: Part 2- Wax

This blog is part 2 in a series.  Click here to read part 1 and here to read part 3.

There are many different options and variations in quality when it comes to the type of wax candles are made out of.  Beeswax candles have been used for thousands of years, have a lovely sweet smell and are known to burn very clean and ionize the air (as long as there isn’t lead in the wick!).  The downfall is that beeswax candles can be quite expensive.  Lower cost waxes are now readily available.  Examples such as paraffin and vegetable waxes (palm and soy) have become quite popular.

Paraffin wax is a naturally occurring by-product and gets a bad rap in the candle world.  It’s true that burning low quality (i.e., unrefined) paraffin wax candles emits soot, particulates and other potential toxins but some paraffin waxes are very clean burning.  If a candle is made with paraffin wax, be sure to ask the candle maker if it is highly refined food grade paraffin (the same stuff used to seal home made jam jars and in hand dips at spas), where all of the mineral oil, which is the primary cause of air pollution concerns from this type of candle, has been removed.

Soy and palm waxes are made through hydrogenating the vegetable oils and when candles made from these waxes are burned properly, are known to be very clean with low soot and particulates.  Here at Way Out Wax we use palm wax in our pillar candle blend.  Our container candles are all 100% soy wax and we go one step above and beyond with our soy wax, ensuring not only a clean burn, but that the soybeans used to make the wax are grown by American farmers and is pesticide and GMO-free!

Stay tuned for future parts and thanks for reading!

Identifying a “Clean” Candle: Part I-Wicks

The candle industry is mostly unregulated with regards to claims of things being “clean,” “organic,” and “natural,” which makes life difficult as a consumer to decipher what may be a questionable claim of purity from an honest one.

Metal in candle wicks, poor quality waxes and synthetic ingredients may all contribute to indoor air quality concerns and increase soot production which can be deposited on walls and ceilings and affect the value of your home – not to mention, the potential affects on your respiratory system.  People with asthma,  COPD concerns and chemical sensitivities may be particularly affected by burning poor quality candles.

The best way to ensure that you are actually buying a clean and healthy candle is to educate yourself.  We want to help you become an informed, savvy, consumer so we put together this series of blog posts to help you understand what to look for and what questions to ask a candle maker when shopping for a high quality, clean burning candle.

At its most basic, a candle consists of wax and a wick.  Other ingredients are sometimes added to the basic candle recipe for aesthetics (such as dyes), aroma (essential oils and/or fragrance oils), and enhancement (chemicals that intensify fragrance and/or increase the burn time of the candle or make it burn brighter).  We’ll touch on each of these elements through this blog series and discuss how the type and quality of each ingredient can factor into how “clean” the final product is.

It is now illegal for candles produced in the United States to put lead in candle wicks due to the toxicity when burning, but it used to be a common practice.  The reason to put metal in wicks is to help the wick stay upright and centered as the candle burns and prevent it from going limp and create burning challenges.  In a manufacturing environment, it is time consuming to manually manipulate every wick, so having lead in the wicks made it a more efficient process.  Cost concerns overrode health concerns.

Consider this for a moment… there are thousands, maybe millions, of candles being imported into the United States everyday from places that do not have regulations about lead in candle wicks.  Is it possible that all of the candles are all being checked for lead before making it onto store shelves?  Our best advice for you is know where your candles come from!

Some candle manufacturers may use other metals such as zinc and tin in wicks, which is legal to do, but this is largely untested and their safety is unknown.  There is also a possibility that the zinc and tin used may contain traces of lead impurities.  An easy way to test for lead in a candle wick is to take an ordinary piece of white paper and rub it on the tip of an unburned wick.  If the wick leaves a gray, pencil-like mark, there is lead in it, if not, it’s lead-free.  Here at Way Out Wax, we don’t mess around with metals in our wicks.  We choose to only use unbleached cotton or hemp wicks with a paper core in our candles.  Visit this link to read the results of a 2001 EPA study on candles as potential sources of indoor air pollution.

This post is part 1 of a series on identifying a clean candle.  Click here to read part 2 and here to read part 3 and as always, thanks for reading!

Loving the Bug Out!… all-natural insect repellent candles and sprays

We’re all grateful for the long days and peaceful nights of summer!  What’s on our to-do list this season?  Everything from hiking, camping, swimming and boating to BBQ’s, beach and birthday parties.  Summer in Vermont is so short and we all try and get outside when the weather is nice as much as possible.

To make all of these activities enjoyable, it’s essential that we bring along insect repellent!  Think citronella or DEET are your only options?  Think again!  Way Out Wax offers 3 varieties of all-natural insect repellent candles (for patios, BBQs, beach, etc.) and sprays (for when you’re on the move) that really work.

Our Bug Out candles are made with our non-GMO soy wax and contain only pure essential oils.  The Bug Out sprays are water-based and also only contain pure essential oils.  NO CHEMICALS OR SYNTHETIC INGREDIENTS!  These are safe to use on children and pets as well (avoid contact with the eyes!).  Apply liberally and often for best results.

Here’s the rundown on your scent options:

  • Original: cedarwood, thyme, peppermint, rosemary and wintergreen essential oils.
  • Geranium: rosemary, lemongrass and geranium essential oils.
  • Hemp citronella: lemongrass and citronella essential oils plus hemp seed oil.

So get out and enjoy the summer with our Bug Out candles and sprays!  Check out the video above and then YOU decide… would you rather be buggin’ out or hanging’ out?