Nothing warms the dark of winter better than candles. They are romantic, comforting, and even create those negative ions we love so much (negative ions pull dust from the air giving it that fresh ‘after a rainstorm smell). Candles are made primarily out of 3 different things: Paraffin, Bees wax, and more recently, soy. So whats the difference you say? Paraffin wax is a byproduct of petroleum refining and produces soot while burning. It is the most common candle type and usually, unless otherwise stated, what most of the candles on the market are made of. Paraffin is also very common in food and cosmetics, from candy to lipstick.
Bees wax candles have been made for centuries and are enjoying somewhat of a renaissance due to a greater ecological awareness and the increasing popularity of natural products. They are a great choice if you have allergies or sensitivities as they do not contain any soot producing chemicals or toxins. Soy candles are made of hydrogenated soybean oil (think margarine) and are commonly combined with paraffin or beeswax in candle making. Soy candles work best in a jar as their low melting point causes them to deform easily in the sun or warm environments. They produce less soot than paraffin and their main draw is that they are natural and vegan.
Fragrances are another thing to watch for. Most fragrances we are used to smelling in household air fresheners contain formaldehyde and all kinds of toxins. Essential oils provide a more natural scent without chemicals. You can find a variety of scents from places like The Body Shop, Whole Foods, or your local natural store. Use essencial oils to brighten your home by adding them to burning candles, or heat them up in a jar above a candle. The scented oils will disperse when heated filling the room with that beautiful smell.
For those who have small children, or don’t like the idea of an open flame should check out these led flickering candles as an alternative.