Charlie and The Candle Factory

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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

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?

Organic Aromatherapy Soy Wax Candles from Way Out Wax!

Did you know that Way Out Wax makes an organic candle?  We created our True Organics line for the conscious consumer who wants to incorporate organics into all aspects of their lifestyle.

What makes these candles organic, you ask?  Great question!  Well, we start with certified non-GMO, pesticide-free soy wax (soy wax itself can’t be certified organic due to the change in chemical structure that occurs when converting soybean oil into a wax- but this is as close to organic as it gets!), then we add 100% certified organic essential oils, a cotton or hemp wick and THAT’S IT!  These candles are all meticulously handcrafted in our Vermont factory, just like the rest of our candles!  Once again, Way Out Wax is setting industry standards for excellence, environmental stewardship and innovative, uncompromising aromatherapy. We invite you to join us in supporting sustainable agriculture and socially responsible, earth-friendly business practices through your purchase of True Organics!

There are 6 amazing scents available in this line.

Jupiter Grove: Calming and soothing lavender meets uplifting and balancing valencia orange.

Zanzibar Mint: Spicy ginger blends with the cooling and uplifting notes of peppermint in a sophisticate, tantalizing concoction.

Sol Tranquility: Refreshing, sparkling citrus notes of Argentinian lemon, Australian litsea cubeba, white ginger peel, and spicy cinnamon bark dance with soothing base notes of lavender flowers to create a whimsical aromatherapy experience.

Oriental Jade: A majestic oriental fragrance which incorporates top notes of Orange Blossom (a representation of good fortune) and Chinese cinnamon bark with a heart of rose geranium and palmarosa enrobed in ylang ylang, warm patchouli, cedarwood and evergreen cypress.

Sicilian Mandarin: Zesty and tangy… a crisp base of green and red mandarin peel with a swirl of pink rose encompassed in a rich citrus melange of Brazilian orange, Argentinian lemon, and passionate pink grapefruit.

Mediterranean Sunrise: A sparkling top not of peppermint and litsea cubeba with a melange of bergamot, lemon, orange and pink grapefruit complemented by a heart of rose and warm palmarose kissed by a hint of sweet ylang.

Choose from three recycled and reusable containers (7.5 ounce frosted tumbler, 11ounce recycled glass and 8 ounce travel tin) with a choice between two label designs for each scent.  One design track is graphically based on a fleur-de-lis pattern, with organic lines and a color palette that follows the ancient spice route.  The second design track is based upon a set of six original watercolor paintings completed exclusively for and inspired by the organic essential oils line.  The paintings and designs were produced by northern Vermont artist Julie Ruth.

Which ones do we like best?  Staff picks include Zanzibar Mint, Sol Tranqulity and Jupiter Grove, but really all of them smell amazing!

Have Candles, Will Travel

Last week, Susan and myself (Linda) from the Way Out Wax sales office took a trip to the Whole Foods All Access show in Woburn, MA.  Along the way, we were able to deliver some candle orders and visit some of the wonderful stores that carry our products.  Our first stop was at the Hunger Mountain Co-op in our capital city of Montpelier, VT.  We absolutely love this co-op!  They have an amazing selection of organic produce, local goods and foods, a delicious prepared foods buffet and a fantastic bulk section!  Before we left, we loaded up on some healthy snacks for the road and picked up a few herbal remedies from their health and beauty department.  Here’s a photo of Susan posing with their selection of Way Out Wax products.   Next stop… New Hampshire!  The Lebanon Co-op was our next delivery location.  This is a beautiful, large grocery co-op with tons of variety.  We were ogling their delicious prepared foods section and loved the huge selection of bulk items they offer.  They have a modest Way Out Wax selection within their floral department, which looked and smelled lovely!

We then continued on to Concord, NH, where we visited Bona Fide Green Goods.  We absolutely fell in love with this store’s earth-friendly products for everyday living!  Susan and I oohed and ahhed over a every corner of the store.  We eventually decided to bring home a set of these, one of these, and this, although we each saw at least 10 other things that we wanted!  Of course we also loved that they had a beautiful display of both our Bug Out insect repellent candles and sprays as well as our everyday aromatherapy candles.  So we had to pose with the goods!  Eventually, we made it to our hotel in Woburn and got our booth set up that night.  We had a great 2 days at the show, met lots of friendly folks and got to chat with hundreds of people who share our passion for natural products of all kinds.  It was a great opportunity to tout our own eco-friendly ethics and our true aromatherapy candles.  Did you know that all of our container candles are made with non-GMO soy wax?!  That’s a fact that we were happy to share.  Here are a couple of shots of us in action at the show.Overall, it was a busy but fun few days.  We hope you will stop in to shop at the wonderful stores we visited on our travels (Hunger Mountain Co-op, Lebanon Co-op, Bona Fide Green Goods and Whole Foods) and grab some eco-friendly goods (including Way Out Wax!) for yourself!

Way Out Wax Candles says GO GREEN!

Step by step we can all come together to make lifestyle changes and go green to  help reduce our negative impact on the environment!  Listed below are a few things we try to do regularly.  We invite you all to like us on Facebook and post what you do to help the Earth!  At the end of May, we’ll choose a random winner who will receive a Bug Out care package to help keep the bugs away the all natural way this summer!

Here’s our list:

  1. Buy local produce that is in season (this way you’ll get the most nutrients possible and support your local farmers).
  2. Use reusable bags when you shop!
  3. Compost.
  4. Hang your laundry outside, instead of using the dryer (when it is not raining).
  5. Insulate your home.
  6. Maintain tire pressure in your car and carpool as much as possible!
  7. Use efficient light bulbs (not to mention turning lights off when they aren’t being used.)
  8. Walk or ride your bike if possible!
  9. Reuse and Recycle.
  10. Plant as many trees as you can!

I’m sure that there are many more creative ways to produce a positive outcome.  That’s why we want you to share your ideas with us! We all need to work together to reverse the damages already done so we can make this world a healthy place for our children!

Earth Day SALE!!

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Here at Way Out Wax every day is Earth Day, but having an official Earth Day gives us a wonderful excuse to celebrate!  We’re committed to producing high-quality, truly healthy products with integrity—products that represent the powerful connection between individuals and the environment!  Here are some of the ways we are good to the earth:

  • We use earth-friendly, completely natural & biodegradable ingredients.  From our waxes, to our scents, to our biodegradable corn-plastic peanuts and pillar wrappers.  We work exclusively with environmentally friendly ingredients & processes.
  • Prevent pollution.  By choosing natural ingredients, rather than synthetic alternatives (some of which are known to emit toxins) we keep things simple and clean and we love it because our production workers don’t have to wear protective gear and respirators.
  • Recycle.  In every stage of manufacturing we recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and we also collect glass bottles & aluminum cans to supplement our donation fund.
  • Reduce.  Resisting industry pressures to “over-package” individual candles, we work to eliminate unnecessary waste by employing “minimalist packaging” and encourage reusing of all our glass & travel tin containers).
  • Reuse.  Our factory reuses packing materials in which we received raw supplies for shipping outbound packages.  Even the “new” boxes we buy are often second-hand from a company that sources “overruns” and other gently-used boxes. Other items (like empty plastic bags or boxes) are donated to businesses in the community that make use of them. We even make “puffs” out of old newspaper that we use in shipping as packaging materials.
  • Support Local Environmental Organizations.  In addition to our donations to social and educational organizations, we are proud to donate time, resources and candles to environmental groups in our home state of Vermont.

What are you doing to be good to the earth?  We invite you to celebrate Earth Day with us with a very special sale!  Visit our website to shop for your favorite products and enter coupon code “earth” at check out to receive an additional 25% off your entire order!  We encourage you to share this with your friends, but hurry, this offer expires at midnight on Sunday April 24th!

Happy Earth Day!!

Do you look for these qualities in products you purchase? We want you to know that we fit into the categories of:

  • NON-GMO
  • NO CHEMICALS OR SYNTHETICS
  • NO DYES
  • NO PESTICIDES
  • VEGAN (CONTAINER CANDLES)
  • MADE IN THE USA

Saving Energy at the Wax Factory

Hooray for energy upgrades!  This week we’ve had about 20-30 of our lights replaced to reduce the energy consumption here at the Way Out Wax factory.  This has happened thanks to a partnership with Efficiency Vermont, who identified the light fixtures as an opportunity for energy savings through a free energy audit that they conducted.  Efficiency Vermont is an energy efficiency utility- the first of it’s kind in the US- that provides technical assistance and financial incentives to help Vermont households and businesses reduce their energy consumption.   Our contractor tells me that they are replacing our old metal halide lights with new T5 high bay fluorescent lights, which will use 1/3 of the energy that the metal halides lights did.

Additionally, motion detectors were connected to the lighting in areas of the factory that are used infrequently, so that the lights will switch on only when someone is in that particular area… no energy will be wasted by lighting areas where we aren’t working.  These upgrades will not only reduce our energy use and corresponding electric bills, but will also strengthen our status as a member of the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership.  Did you know we are a member of that organization?  Check out the their standards that we’ve adopted.

We’re always looking for new ways to reduce waste and energy use around here.  Some of the other strategies we’ve already implemented include:

What ideas do you have that might help us reduce energy use and waste?