Essential Oils for Winter, Part III

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Spring is on its way for sure, but we’re still knee-deep in snow here in Northern Vermont. If you haven’t read the first or second parts of this blog series, please do so to read more about warming and uplifting essential oils for Wintertime!

We find it is also important to stay grounded and inspired.  When we can’t put our bare feet on the Earth (without fear of frostbite), our friend Patchouli truly helps with this feeling of harmony and content.

We understand that Patchouli is a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ scent and for those who aren’t the biggest fans, envision dank, life-giving soil of the Earth and forget the “stinky hippie” references. If patchouli is too strong for you by itself, try burning it simultaneously with sage or lavender to sweeten it a little!  It also blends well with Rosewood, Frankincense and most citrus oils.

Silk Road traders in the 18th and 19th centuries scented their precious exotic fabrics with Patchouli as a way to mitigate pests and simultaneously give the luxurious fabrics an accompanying perfume.  Ink from India was scented with Patchouli, conveying romanticism and linking aroma with the written word. Patchouli is indicative of pure purpose and passion!

Lastly, but certainly not least, for inspiration we look to the woods!  Trees are full of wisdom and in winter conifers are strong, true souls who hold tight to their needles. Spruce, fir and cedar inspire our hearts and minds every time by sharing their gratitude and strength to help keep continual motivation!

Before we know it, buds will be blooming!  The birds have already started singing their Springtime tunes, they know it’s coming, slowly but surely!

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Staying Healthy with Cedarwood

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Cedarwood has been used throughout history in the Middle East. The ancient Egyptians utilized Cedar for embalming, building water-crafts to sail the Nile and for intricately carved temple doors. Cedars are incredibly hearty trees and grow up to one thousand years old! They are a symbol of resilience and regenerative life force.

Amidst flu season, we turn to these wise trees to stay healthy. Cedar has powerful astringent properties and respiratory inhalation is the most effective means of absorption. We’re illuminating these dark nights with Northern Forest candles to enjoy the natural healing powers of cedar, spruce and fir. Our candles are handcrafted with 100% pure essential oils and GMO-free soy wax— to keep you connected to nature’s healing powers!

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

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.

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.

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!

Top 5 Candles for Summer

As a follow up on our top 5 candles for Spring, we wanted to share our personal favorites for summer time! Can’t believe it is already July, before we know it we’ll find ourselves harvesting all the veggies from our gardens and lugging in wood to prepare for winter.  In the meantime, we want you to know what the candle maker’s are burning this time of year! The following scents are our personal favorites that help to balance and refresh!

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  1. Bug Out – Keep bugs away the all-natural way! Our three blends utilize Mother Nature’s best defenses (essential oils) to effectively deter insects in a way that’s safe for you and the environment.
  2. Orange – This uplifting aroma helps to balance your spirit, I find that it smells yummy enough to eat, but we don’t recommend that.
  3. Lemongrass – Is our newest single scent, so new, it’s not landed on our website quite yet, but it is available in pillars and votives and we love it as it is a wonderful earthy, refreshing scent.  It can be ordered over the phone though… 1-888-727-1903!
  4. Lavender – Everyone loves lavender, or at least MOST people do!  This calming aroma will help relax you after a day of running around, gardening, or whatever you do!
  5. Clean Air – Our all-natural odor neutralizing candles and sprays are made with a proprietary blend of over 22 botanical essential oils!  They work hard to eat up foul smelling odors by absorbing them and leaving you with nothing but clean air!  This is our number one most sought after product; it is great to eliminate the smells of cooked fish, stinky pets and friends (no offense to them)!

Jasmine, Rose, and Vanilla Scented Candles

Jasmine, rose and vanilla are all amazing and popular scents that we love, but, did you know that all three scents come in the form of absolutes rather than essential oils?  Absolutes are similar to essential oils, only their method of extraction is much more elaborate and is either done using CO2 or a solvent such as hexane.  Essential oils are made primarily by steam distillation or cold pressing (like from the rind of an orange).  Absolutes result in a very complex, highly concentrated and expensive oil.

Producing jasmine absolute is an incredibly labor intensive and delicate process.  First, the jasmine flowers must be hand picked during the night since much of the fragrance will evaporate during daylight hours.  The blossoms must be very carefully picked, packed and transported because they are fragile and if they get crushed, the quality is compromised.  Then, a solvent is used to extract the oil, and then evaporated away, leaving behind only the absolute oil.  It takes about 8000 jasmine blossoms to produce 1 gram (about 1mL) of jasmine absolute.  A single pound of pure jasmine absolute oil may cost between $1000 to $4500!  So, if we were to make one of our glass tumbler candles with pure jasmine oil, it would cost us about $40 to produce.  Check out the prices of jasmine absolute oil for yourself at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Rose is actually available in both an essential oil and an absolute.  There is very little oil contained in the rose petals, which is why it requires over 30 roses to produce 1 drop of rose absolute!  Making rose absolute is more efficient, producing a greater amount of oil from fewer petals compared to the distillation process to make the essential oil.  Compare the prices of the absolute vs. the essential oil at Mountain Rose Herbs.  If you’ve ever handled a rose before, you know that the petals containing the oil are very fragile and bruise easily, making it also a delicate operation to collect and process the petals.  There are myriad types of rose absolutes, but the top three used are Bulgarian, Maroc, and Damask-Turkey.  To scent one of our glass tumbler candles with pure rose absolute, it would cost us between $40 and $76 per candle.

Vanilla is the most popular candle scent.  Vanilla absolute oil, like jasmine and rose, is produced using the fragile flowers (not the beans!) of the vanilla plant.  The deep trumpet-shaped flower, a member of the orchid family, must be hand pollinated, except for in locations in Mexico where a native hummingbird is capable of doing the work.  The delicate flower will wilt if not pollinated within a few hours of being opened.  These factors contribute to the price of vanilla absolute oil, which you can see for yourself at Mountain Rose Herbs.  It would cost us about $26 to scent a glass tumbler candle with pure vanilla.  Visit this post to learn more about why we don’t make a vanilla candle.

So, while we love these scents, we won’t be making any aromatherapy candles at Way Out Wax with them anytime soon.  We share this information to help educate folks and encourage them to ask questions.  There are a lot of inexpensive synthetic jasmine, rose, and vanilla fragrances out there used by candle makers and perfumers alike.  Check out our website to learn more about synthetic fragrances and learn why we’ve made such a strong commitment to not using them.  Remember, if the price of a product claiming to use these “essential oils” seems like it’s too good to be true, it just may be!