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

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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.