Candles. We can't get enough of them.
(Take candle company ECOYA, for example, which sells a candle around the world every 29 seconds.)
"The candle industry is flourishing," General Manager Claire Barnes told The Huffington Post Australia.
"They have become part of our day-to-day lifestyle and a luxury item that everyone has in their homes."
Looking for a touch of ambience for your lounge room? Light one up. Searching for a scent to mask your room-tidying laziness? One guava and lychee sorbert candle, please.
Not only do they evoke powerful senses and memories, but they also look damn pretty (there's something hypnotic about that gentle flickering flame).
But have you thought about what goes into that pot of smelly wax?
We've broken it down for you:
Most commercially-available candles are made with paraffin wax -- a petroleum by-product refined from crude oil that is also commonly used in beauty products. Highly refined, it can be melted at both low and high temperatures and used accordingly in a range of products -- from tea lights to pillar candles.
However, paraffin candles -- particularly those that are scented -- are widely believed to give off potentially hazardous chemicals when burned and have been associated with causing damage to the brain, lung and central nervous system.
"We burnt paraffin candles in our homes for years without any knowledge of what paraffin was or the impact it had on our environment," Barnes said.
"They were a functional item to provide light and often came in the classic forms of taper and pillar candles...The industry has very much moved on."
Soy wax is a relatively new and natural alternative that is made using hydrogenated soy beans.
"Soy does not contain any of the harmful chemicals associated with the use of parrafin," Barnes said.
Biodegradable and free from pesticides, this one ticks all of your environmental boxes.
"(It also) burns cleaner and cooler and lasts longer." So the few extra dollars that you may pay will make up for themselves. Due to its makeup, however, expect your soy candle to fade, bleed or acquire a frosty layer over time.
Natural beeswax is smoke-free, non-toxic and non-allergenic, and has a superior burn to any other type of candle wax due to its high melting point. Pure beeswax candles naturally ionise the atmosphere aaaand they emit a light, honey aroma as they burn. So really, everyone wins.
Artisan candles will traditionally use a blend of soy and beeswax -- but they can cost an arm and a leg. So choose wisely.
Wax types are not the only red flag when it comes to candles. Wicks can come hidden with a metal core containing zinc, tin or lead -- and a health warning to bat.
Safer alternatives are those that use a cotton or paper wick, and are either unscented or scented with essential oils.
Claire's Top Tips For Ample Burning
1. Always trim your wick -- including the very first burn and every burn after."This ensures the wick doesn't mushroom and create unnecessary soot which can turn your candle black on the inside. If the wick is mushroomed or too long, it also creates extra heat which will burn your candle faster."
2. Always burn you candle until the wax pool reaches the edge of the glass. "Soy wax retains a memory, so this will ensure it always burns flat and that you get the most out of your candle."
3. Stop burning your candle when you have 1cm of wax left. "This is a safety tip. Always ensure there is sufficient wax left in the glass."
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