Candle Colors: Dyes & Pigments
What dyes do you color your candles with?
REACH is a new European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use. It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of CHemical substances. The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances.
REACH is similar to Proposition 65 in California, which is intended to protect California citizens and the State's drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.
Bart Burger, our CEO, just returned from Europe and is now blending with new liquid dyes that are both REACH and Prop 65 compliant. They are non-hazardous and non-carcinogenic. They contain none of the 26 listed prohibited aryl amines by the German safety group. They contain no aromatic solvents like Toluene, Xylene, benzene, ethyl benzene, naphtha and naphthalene. They are in a vegetable based solvent/oil with no petroleum solvents and have excellent solubility in all waxes. Their shade, consistency, stability and strengths are just as intense, crisp, clear and bright as our original candle dyes. In fact we are able to use less dye (as little as 0.001%).
The dye manufacturer also offers this guarantee: "These dyes, whose formulation remains proprietary, are eco-friendly. We do not use solvents, but instead an ingredient which is FDA approved for food contact, and pharmaceuticals. All pertinent health and safety information has been provided per the US Code of Federal Regulations."
In compliance with the United States Clean Air Act our candles do not cause any hazardous air pollutants or fumes. In conformity with The Clean Water Act none of the chemicals in our candles are listed as hazardous substances, or pollutants. None of our ingredients are tested on animals.
Were your old candle dyes toxic?
If you would sprinkle the pure dyes on your dessert, probably yes. But burning a few milligrams of dye in a candle? It has not been established that the minute quantities of potentially harmful chemicals that are released into the air while a candle is burning actually have any effect on your health. Also, our candles are made from vegetable wax, mixed with a minute amount of color. Most candles are still made of petroleum (paraffin).
Remember, everything that is not purely natural in your home (paints, plastics, particle board, carpets, synthetic curtains, even the dyes in clothes) will release toxins into the air. Comparatively, the amounts of toxins released through the burning of (vegetable wax) candles are probably inconsequential. But this does not mean that we should not try to minimize exposure to any non-organic compounds.
Why is it that some candle makers don't use any color, especially for soy candles?
You would have to ask the specific manufacturer, but from our burn tests with soy wax we discovered that pure soy candles (not a soy blend) will not color well. Yes, some colors will look nice, but not all. Heavy amounts of dye can also clog the wick. Candle dyes add cost. Candle dyes don't make the candle burn cleaner, and it doesn't help the scent. Dye has little purpose aside from making the candle attractive, or to make it fit in with a color scheme for a room or an occasion.
What is paraffin wax?
Paraffin is a chemically distilled and refined petroleum product.It is then purified by sweating or solvent refining. Paraffin, which is not a true wax, consists mainly of a mixture of saturated straight-chain solid hydrocarbons.
Is paraffin wax toxic?
Paraffin in its purest form is non-toxic when ingested by humans. In fact, highly refined and purified paraffin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in food, cosmetics, and medical applications. Paraffin is used in spas and physical therapy centers to apply heat to stiff joints. It's also used in removing hair. You or someone you know has likely used petroleum jelly maybe even on a scrape. A lower grade paraffin is commonly used for manufacturing candles. This being said, we do not know which substances are released into the air when you burn a (low grade) paraffin candle. After all, we are talking about a crude oil derivative here, just like kerosene.
Why don't you still make hand painted tapers with paraffin wax?
Back in 1993, when our company was founded, we started out with a line of very decorative taper candles. We used paraffin to make them, just like every other candle maker at the time. Hardly anybody knew about vegetable waxes. We have since discontinued this line. The only refineries that make paraffin wax are now in China; moreover, the quality is constantly changing: sometimes causing bubbles, lousy burn times, excessive dripping and soot, etc. Also the sales kept dropping to the point where we could not even justify all the specialized equipment taking up so much vaulable factory space. Instead, we recommend palm wax taper candles. I know the tapers are not as fancy, but they are essentially dripless, soot free, burn longer, and sell through seven times faster. In addition, we have also stopped using any paraffin wax or petrochemical additives in any of our products as we are always looking for products that are more sustainable for the planet and are healthier.
I read an article about health issues related to lead core wicks. Do you sell any candles with lead core wicks?
Ten years ago there was some coverage in the media regarding possible health issues related to candles containing lead wicks. This has been somewhat confusing and misleading. Very few American made candles have wire core wicks and those that do have zinc core wicks, not lead.
In my humble opinion, it all came about because of a PR campaign. A PR firm, hired to deal with the issue of candle soot, found it expedient to focus the media attention on another issue. I don't believe American consumers were being poisoned by lead wicks. I know over a hundred candle manufactures, and none of us ever used lead wicks.
Why do some of your jar candles have two wicks?
Our bigger jar candles have been engineered using dual wicks because this more quickly creates a wider wax pool. At the same time, two small wicks burn slower and put out less carbon than one thick wick. The end result is that we get a stronger hot throw, longer burn times and no leftover wax.
What kind of wicks to you use?
All our candles are made with 100% braided cotton wicks, some of them have a tiny paper core. None of our candles contain metal, zinc, or lead of any kind. We have tried hemp wicks and have yet to find a reliable certified organic source. We are encouraging wick manufacturers in Europe and the US to switch to organic cotton.