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What Candles and Wicks Are Made Of
What Candles Are Made Of:
Paraffin development began in 1830, but manufactured paraffin was not introduced until 1850. It provided an alternative to tallow which gave off an unpleasant odor when burned. In 1854 paraffin and stearin (the solid form of fat) were combined to create stronger candles, very similar to those we use today.
Most honey and bees wax is collected from July to September. It can come from the pollination of canola, sweet clover or sunflowers. Generally these plants result in a lighter scent and lighter colored beeswax.
There are two types, solid beeswax and honeycomb wax. The solid bees wax candle is created by pouring liquid wax into a candle mold. The result is a smooth, dense candle which burns for an extremely long time. Honeycomb beeswax candles are created by rolling honeycomb textured sheets. The honeycomb candle is less dense and burns faster.
Beeswax candles produce a bright flame, do not drip, do not smoke or sputter, and produce a fragrant honey odor while being burned.
CRYSTAL WAX CANDLES
These are also called wax tarts or wax potpourri. They are made with an all-natural candle wax that holds twice as much fragrance as paraffin wax candles, making them suitable for highly scented candles. They are used with a potpourri warmer (without any water). The fragrance emerges when the candle starts to melt.
Gel candles have a new and unique look. They give off a beautiful illumination and a wonderful aroma. And they burn three times as long as wax candles.
But be careful. Gel candles produce a higher burning flame and they burn much hotter. Too much heat can shatter a glass candleholder or container which can ignite nearby combustibles, resulting in a room fire. To be safe, never burn a gel candle more than four hours.
Soy wax candles are made from soy beans. They are non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and bio-degradable. They burn up to 40% longer than paraffin candles and burn evenly which means there is no tunneling effect. However, it is not recommended to burn more than four hours at a time. Soy candles are very sensitive to temperature and light. They should be stored away from sunlight, fluorescent lighting and other sources of heat.
WHAT WICKS ARE MADE OF TODAY
Most wicks manufactured in the US are made of 100% cotton or some paper-cotton combination. They are either square or flat braided. Some candles made in the US contain metal wicks. These metal wicks are typically made of zinc or have a tin-core. They are known to be safe and non-toxic.
Zinc core wicks are most commonly used for gel candles because of their rigidity while the candle is being made and during the burning. However, some gel candle are made with cotton and paper core wicks.
Be aware that some imported candles, mostly from China, have been found to contain lead wicks. Fortunately, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has proposed the banning of lead wicks in all candles sold in the United States
If you are concerned that your candle may have a lead wick, there is an easy way to test it. Take a normal piece of white paper. Rub the paper on the tip of an un-burnt candle's wick. If it leaves a light gray pencil like mark, you know it is using a lead core.
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