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!

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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!

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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!

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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 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!