What are you sniffing? What you should know about candles!

When I was in elementary school we did a classic “science” experiment. We held something over a burning candle and noted the black icky soot that collected. It was an exercise in carbon. But it wasn’t until recently in my life that I realized exactly what it was.

Most candles on the market are made of paraffin. These are the candles you buy at the Walmarts, the gift shops, the corner stores, anywhere. Why are they all made from paraffin? It’s cheap and readily available. So why is it so? It is because of where it comes from.

Paraffin is the sludge left over after refining crude oil into all the useful fuels. So basically you have a barrel of oil from the ground. The highest grade stuff comes out first. These are your jet/rocket fuels and kerosene. Next is the everyday fuels for cars and the like. Last is diesel. THEN, once all the useful fuels are refined out the sludge that’s left if paraffin.

This is the stuff that goes into all those fancy, scented candles most people have in their homes. It is even used in baking to add gloss or bind. In fact it is the one main reason I no longer give any business to a certain Canadian doughnut/coffee chain. They use paraffin in almost all their “baked” products.

Think about this. When you burn a candle or add this to your drop cookies you are inhaling or ingesting the WASTE product of the oil business. YUCK!

But there is hope. A few friends have been posting some interesting alternative candles on Facebook and I have decided to include them here.

The first is a citrus candle.

Basically it is a hollowed out orange/grapefruit/etc leaving the center stalk. Fill the reservoir with any kind of kitchen or cooking oil and voila! I have been saving bacon grease to make candles so I will experiment with using that instead of kitchen oil.

You can find the step-by-step at Instructables.com

Another is an emergency Tuna Can Candle. Yeah. Why not? The first lantern oils were wicks in fish oils.

You can find many tutorials on youtube including THIS ONE

As always though there are more alternatives to regular candles than just these. Beeswax are by far the best in my opinion. They are natural and a renewable resource. They smell good and burn very long. Soy candles…meh…While they are not as bad as paraffin they do have a major drawback. It is hard to find soy candles that have been produced using sustainable means. In fact a lot of the soy on this planet comes from areas that have been clearcut for the purpose of producing soy and the environmental impacts far outweigh the benefits. But that is just my opinion.

Hope you enjoy these ideas. If you have any more please send them to sean@onthegreenpath.ca. I would love to hear all about them!

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