WHAT MAKES A QUALITY SCENTED CANDLE?
Scented candles are everywhere, and are more popular than ever before. Whether you are buying one for yourself or as a gift, the variation of waxes, fragrances, shapes, sizes and prices can sometimes leave you with an overwhelming amount of choice. The many components that make a scented candle unique are often made to attract a specific target market. With prices ranging from pence to hundreds of pounds, it is important to know what makes a quality scented candle?
We asked 100 regular scented candle buyers what they thought the most important factors were in a quality scented candle. The options that were given were as follows…
– Scent throw strength
– Candle lifespan
– Environmentally friendliness/naturalness
– Other option
Fragrance came in first place with almost all participants saying it was one of the most important factors that contribute to a quality scented candle. Furthermore, packaging and presentation came in second place, and finally, environmentally friendliness/naturalness coming in at third place.
What determines a candles performance is of a direct result of what the candles are made from.
90% – 95% of a scented candle is its wax. Because of this, the wax used in the candle contributes significantly towards the candles fragrance, scent throw, lifespan and eco-friendliness. But what is a quality wax?
There are many kinds of waxes that are used for scented candles. These include palm, gel and bayberry wax, but the three most used waxes, in which 94% of the candle market are made from, are paraffin (69%), soy (22%) and beeswax (2%). Each wax holds its own natural fragrance, melting point and price level.
The overwhelming majority of scented candles on the market today are made using paraffin wax. Why is this? Firstly, it is by far the cheapest and most easily accessible wax on the market. It is also the wax that holds and distributes scent the most effectively, therefore they can contain a more concentrated ratio of fragrance and still produce the full room fragrance effect.
WHAT’S THE CATCH?
However, despite sounding like the perfect wax to use for a scented candle, paraffin wax isn’t all that it cracks up to be. This is due to the fact that paraffin wax is made using the by-products of petroleum, which literally means it is toxic waste. Before being melted into candle jars, the wax is sent through a refining process where the dirty wax is mixed with a variation of chemicals like industry strength bleach, which is where it acquires its pale colour. After this process, the wax is confirmed to be ‘safe’ and ‘non-toxic’ despite being made from substances that are incredibly harmful to the human body. Although the wax is not being consumed, fumes are produced directly from the fuel the flame is utilising to keep alive, which in this case is crude oil and bleach.
It is often surprising why paraffin wax doesn’t occupy an unpleasant smell. This is because it is either covered up by scented fragrance, or by additional chemicals that are added to the wax to specifically conceal the smell. Although there is no evidence that lighting paraffin wax candles in moderate use cause major health issues, they can often encourage breathing difficulties and light-headedness that can contribute to other problems. There has not been a large amount of research done on the effects of paraffin wax in relation to the human body, therefore I feel it is best to keep away from them.
Scented paraffin wax candles are often low in price and in low-quality packaging. As a result, they often appeal to the mainstream mass market. Some more expensive paraffin wax candles are often larger in size, but this does not mean they will last longer than other waxes, as paraffin wax is one of the fastest burning waxes on the market.
The next most commonly used wax is vegetable based soy wax. Made from soybeans, It is a much more superior quality of wax than paraffin due to the fact that it is natural, clean-burning and a renewable and environmentally friendly substance. Soy wax can also come in organic form. It also boasts a longer burning time than paraffin wax and its close relation palm wax.
Soy wax is often seen in better quality candles due to the reasons stated above. Although soy wax is a little more expensive than paraffin wax, it is much safer and better for your breathing and living environment.
It is important to understand that all waxes are made differently and just because it states that soy wax is used in a candle, doesn’t mean that other waxes or chemicals haven’t been mixed with it. We would recommend soy wax as a good quality alternative to paraffin wax.
The final wax is by far the most superior wax of them all. It is well known for its health benefits and burning properties. known as the queen of the waxes, it is beeswax. Beeswax is our favourite wax at Bewell Manor and we use it in many of our products. This natural wax is made by melting the honeycomb that bees produce to hold honey and lay eggs. Surprisingly, It takes the lifetime work of 20,000 bees to produce just 1kg of wax. This is why it is one of the most expensive waxes to use for scented candles. It is also the best wax to use for scented candles.
Beeswax holds many hidden and unique features that make it the perfect wax for all candles a-like. Firstly, it is a natural air cleaner. The fumes it creates when it is melted produce negative ions that help eliminate bad odour, pollutants, dust and mould in the air. This improves the overall air quality in the environment the candle is lit, perfect for young lungs or people who suffer from breathing problems. It also produces a naturally sweet scent that aids stress and anxiety. Furthermore, because its melting point is so high, it is one of the longest burning waxes on the market, so even a small beeswax candle lasts a long time.
Beeswax has many features that other waxes do not have. Although it is the most expensive of the candle waxes, it is definitely worth the extra few pounds. It is a natural product, but it is commonly mixed with other waxes and substances for a variety of reasons. Sometimes beeswax is classified as being organic. However, this is often debated, as it would require the farmers to ensure that each bee obtained all pollen from organic plants, which would be very difficult to do. The term ‘100% natural beeswax’ declares that nothing artificial has been added during the candle making process.
5% – 10% of the candle is taken up by the candle’s fragrance. Any ratio over 9:1 and the candle can start to encounter burning issues like flickering, smoking or even cause the wax to catch fire. Most good quality scented candles are fragranced by pure essential oils made from plants, fruits and spices. The term ‘pure’ means that the oils are 100% of what they claim to be, and have not been diluted by other oils. Essential oils can also be organic. However, just because they claim to be organic, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are pure forms of the oil as they could have been mixed with other organic oils.
Cheaper candles often use artificial fragrances, synthetic aroma chemicals and aromatic resins. These may smell quite nice, but the fumes they produce may not be safe to inhale. If the candle is fragranced with pure essential oils, this is an indication that the candle is good quality.
Candlewicks can be made from a large array of materials, including hemp, cotton and even pieces of thin wood. Cotton braided wicks are the most common. They come in a number of thicknesses and braid patterns depending on what wax they are melting. Wicks with larger girths create wider melting pools because they produce larger and higher temperature flames.
Although wicks are a very important aspect in a candle, they all broadly work in the same way. Because of this, it is difficult to judge a scented candles quality based on its wick.
PACKAGING & PRESENTATION
You shouldn’t always judge a candles quality based on the packaging. But nine times out of ten the quality of the packaging often indicates the quality of the product inside. The first thing to look at is the jar the candle is in. Scented candles can be found in a variety of different shaped and sized jars. They are made from a whole host of different materials including, metals like copper and tin, stones like marble and limestone, and even man-made materials like concrete. However, you will find that the majority of scented candles are found in glass jars.
Glass jars are commonly used because they are reasonably cheap to produce and are strong enough to cope with the heat produced by the candle flame. Thin glass can often lead to the candle jar cracking by the time the flame has reached the bottom half of the container. Good quality glass jars are thick, especially at the base where the candle is in contact with a surface. Other qualities like the shape, size, colour and transparency of the glass are a personal preference.
Most people believe that jars made from materials like marble and copper are naturally going to hold a reasonably good quality candle. After all, who would put a cheap standard scented candle in an expensive housing? Just because the packaging is nice, doesn’t always mean what is inside it is too. Quite often, the most pleasant smelling organic candles can be found in cheap tins on the niche market.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Some higher standard candles come in exterior packagings, like a box or a bag. This is a subtle indication that the candle inside is ‘worthy’ of protection and can make the candle ‘feel’ as though it holds extra value. Some candle packaging is very impressive and has the ability to give the candle a unique and profound image. Some even contain small booklets, tissue paper and free gifts to really make the candle feel like a luxury item. From leather bags to engraved wooden boxes, candle packaging varies a lot, but doesn’t always relate to the quality of the actual candle.
You should be cautious when determining a candles quality by its price. The general rule of thumb is that cheap candles often use poor quality ingredients, in contrast, more expensive candles contain better quality ingredients. However, what is stopping a shop from selling a £5 candle for £45?
Judge a scented candle on all of the aspects mentioned above. The wax, fragrance, wick, packaging design and cost will all indicate the quality of the item.
WHERE IS THE CANDLE BEING SOLD?
If the shop or website you are buying from has a good record of selling quality items, then the candle will most probably be good quality too.
LOOK AT THE INGREDIENTS
Ingredients are not always displayed on the candle’s packaging. Check whether they are displayed on the companies website. If they are not clearly stated, then the company is clearly not comfortable or proud of the ingredients they use. This can mean that the candles are made using poor quality ingredients. Words like natural, pure, organic and botanical indicate a good quality product.
SMELL THE CANDLE
If you are spending more than £25.00 on a scented candle, you need to make sure that you like the scent the candle produces. If you cannot find the scented candle in a shop, some websites offer the buyer a free sample of the product before committing to an order.
LOOK AT REVIEWS
Satisfied customers who share positive reviews of the candle prove that the item is worth buying. Reviews may contain information about the candle like its performance or longevity.
Follow the advice on this article and you will be sure to buy a quality scented candle that you’re proud to light in your house or give as a gift. At Bewell Manor, we guarantee that the materials used to create our scented candles are of the best possible quality.
Visit our shop at www.BewellManor.com/shop