There’s a time around the globe when millions of people fill the world with candles, colorful lights, prayers, and gifts of goodness to one another – it’s Diwali, or the Festival of Light, and it’s the most important festival of the Hindu religion. For five days every fall, warm flames big and small shine to represent the triumph of light over darkness, everyone exchanges gifts, and there are great feasts to share. This year, Diwali also coincides with the Hindu New Year, so we’re going to help you celebrate with your complete guide to finding the perfect candles for the Festival of Light.
In the past, people used candles primarily for light, but today candles have become so much more. So many types of candles exist these days, and they’re no longer limited to the practical aspect of surviving in the darkness. Besides their decorative value, and the ability to create a certain ambience, candles can have an incredible effect on your mood. You can use candles to bring a whiff of aromatherapy into your space; the many fragrant essential oils used in modern candles can help you to relax, rejuvenate, cheer up, or energize.
With so many types of candles on the market available to us, how can you choose the ones that are safe and beneficial for your health and environment? Which candles last longer and don’t drip? What is the difference between beeswax and soy candles? Why are paraffin and palm candles the least expensive? To answer these and other questions, we’ve compared different types of candles and made a list of the pros and cons of each one.
Beeswax – is the most natural of all waxes produced by honey bees.
- It can be used in almost any form, it’s easily moldable, and doesn’t droop.
- Is non-toxic, burns clean with no sticky, black petroleum based soot.
- Doesn’t require the use of fragrant oils since it has its own natural aroma which actually has a positive effect on our nervous system. Like the taste of honey the scent can vary depending on what flowers the bees had access to.
- Is a natural air cleaner as it produces negative ions, which help remove air pollutants.
- It contains propolis – a unique ingredient beneficial for our health.
- Burns and lasts longer than other candles.
- It takes about 10 pounds of honey to produce one pound of beeswax.
- Taking the beeswax from bees and using it for candle-making contributes to bees’ extinction.
- They are the most expensive type of candles.
Soy – made from vegetable hydrogenated soybean oil.
- Natural & nontoxic when burning.
- It burns 50% longer, cooler, and more evenly than other waxes, leaving almost no excess wax in the jar.
- Water soluble, so it’s easy to clean off surfaces.
- Because of the lower melting point of soy wax the scent is much stronger and does not require extra chemicals.
- Biodegradable and a renewable resource.
- It takes about 60 pounds of beans to make 11 pounds of oil.
- Almost all soy beans are genetically-modified and are grown with the use of pesticides and harsh chemicals.
- Most soy candles are not 100% soy, and contain a high percentage of paraffin.
- Even a 100% soy wax candle must be processed with a certain amount of paraffin. So, when burning a 100% soy candle small amounts of the carcinogens and toxins found in paraffin can still be potentially released.
- More expensive than paraffin candles.
Paraffin – a by-product of the crude oil refining process.
- Can have low, medium, and high melting points making it the most versatile wax.
- The least expensive type of candles.
- Burns very hot and fast.
- As dangerous as petroleum. Paraffin candles release 11 known toxic carcinogenic chemicals into the environment, including toluene and benzene, which contribute to global warming.
- Produces the most soot of all the waxes. Petro-carbon soot released from burning stains walls, furniture and is circulated through your air ducts.
- Not made from a renewable resource (petroleum is in limited supply).
Palm Oil – made from palm fruit that is grown on African palm oil trees.
- Used to harden other waxes and blends easily.
- Cheap to source.
- Can withstand high temperatures and don’t melt when not in use.
- Nontoxic when burning.
- The environmental impacts of using any palm products are devastating. Deforestation and slave labor are just two major concerns important enough to choose other types of candles over candles made of palm oil.
Other things to consider when choosing or making a DIY candle:
The wick in the candle is probably as important as the wax. The highest-quality candles use only 100% cotton wicks. They burn evenly, slowly, and don’t smoke as much as wiry wicks. But the most important, they don’t have some poisonous chemicals like other cheaper options. A pure hemp wick is a good alternative to cotton.
When choosing a candle we usually pay attention to two things: design and smell. Probably the greatest factor to consider in your purchase of candles is usually how they are scented. But did you know that synthetic, petrochemical-derived fragrant oils used in cheap candles are extremely dangerous for your health? Organic, pure essential oils on the other hand are the least harmful for us when burning, and also the least harmful to the environment when sourcing.
While these tips are great for Diwali, candles are useful for so much more. Many other holidays and special events use them. Make sure when you make your pick for this holiday, you buy in bulk to be ready for that next special event. With a few extra candles around you can easily set up an impromptu romantic dinner for you and your partner. Or, if the power goes out you’ll be ready to tell fun stories and make shadow puppets with the whole family, rather than spending a night bumping into tables. After so much work to make everything perfect for your loved ones, make sure you take a few moments for yourself and buy an aroma therapy candle for your alone time. You’ve earned it!