Candles are a great way to set the mood for any occasion. They can be used as decoration, they’re calming and romantic, and they smell good too! So what exactly are candles made of?
The answer might surprise you – while it may vary based on the type of candle you purchase, most candles use about 10% wax (paraffin or soy) with 90% fragrance oil. They also include wicks which provide fuel for the flame.
Paraffin wax is a mixture of hydrocarbons obtained as a by-product in the refining process. Paraffin wax has been used for many years to create candles because it burns relatively cleanly and can be molded easily into any shape desired.
The composition of paraffin wax varies depending on its source, but typically it contains alkanes with between 16 and 24 carbon atoms per molecule (e.g., hexadecane), pentacosane, heptacosane, octacosanoic acid esters, and tetradecanoic acid esters).
It also includes some long-chain branched components such as tridecanol; however, these are not classified separately since they do not contribute to the melting point.
Paraffin wax is cheap and holds both dyes and scents well. However, it’s not biodegradable or natural, and it’s made from a non-renewable resource, so many people avoid it for environmental reasons.
Heating paraffin wax releases soot and 11 known toxins — two of which are carcinogens — into the air. For these reasons, paraffin wax candles have been falling out of favor in recent years.
Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honey bees of the genus “Apis”. All-natural wax is made by bees from a special gland in their stomach. A swarm of bees uses it to build their honeycomb hives.
The wax is also harvested at the same time as the honey. Beeswax has a sweet scent from honey. It is white, yellow, orange or red. Beeswax is expensive because it takes a lot of work to make. It is hard to dye it because it is naturally brown.
*Beeswax has been found to have remarkable antibacterial properties and so its use would provide protection against bacterial contamination during storage or transportation. It also helps prevent other substances mixed with honeybees wax from burning too quickly.
Soy wax is a natural and renewable alternative to animal-based wax, such as beeswax. Soybeans are grown without the use of harmful pesticides or GMOs so it’s environmentally friendly too.
It has been used by candle makers for centuries because soy candles burn very cleanly, enhancing their fragrance and leaving less residue behind on the glass jar after burning than other types of candles.
The soybean provides an inexpensive source for raw materials from which products can be made for many industries, including textiles, lubricants/cutting oils, plastics & elastomers (materials), inks/paint additives, foodstuffs (vegetable oil), and biofuels.
Soy wax is also biodegradable, unlike paraffin wax. The melting point for beeswax is lower than most of the other waxes on this list. This makes it easier to burn in cooler weather or during wintertime.
Coconut wax is also a type of plant-based wax that you might use on candles. It’s all-natural and doesn’t come from animals like other types of wax do. Coconut wax creates a slower burn. It also doesn’t release much soot, and it lasts for a long time.
Gel wax is not a type of wax. It’s made from mineral oil and resin. Gel wax is clear and can be used to make transparent jar candles. The wax holds both scent and dyes well. Gel wax can be hot and make glass containers explode.
Palm wax is a natural and sustainable product that’s used in making candles. It comes from the same trees that produce palm oil. Palm wax produces an even burn with little to no ash residue left behind, which makes for easier cleanup.
And like soy wax, this type of wax burns cleanly without releasing toxins into your home environment while you’re burning it on your candle. However, many people still avoid using palm-based products due to deforestation concerns.
A candle’s wick is what lets it burn. It transfers the wax from the candle to the flame and then burns itself in the process. Candle wicks can be made of different materials, like cotton. Sometimes the wick also has metal in the middle to help it stand up straight.
The most popular candle wicks are made from cotton fibers, braided in a flat shape, and then covered in wax to enable them to stand straight. A candle can have one or more wicks, depending on the size.
Some candles are colored by adding a colorant to the wax. Candlemakers use some type of pigment or dye like those that you might see in food coloring bottles. The most popular choices for candle dyes and pigments come from natural sources, such as berries or leaves.
Other options include iron oxides, titanium dioxide, carmine/cochineal extract (a red dye made from ground beetles), ultramarine blue powder(made with minerals), and copper mordants. Adding these substances helps make your candle’s flame change colors when it burns down into different parts of the jar!
Many candles are scented. This is because the scent helps give them a special aroma and feeling that can make people feel happier or relaxed, depending on what type of fragrance they choose to burn in their candle.
Fragrance oils come from many sources, such as fruit peelings (orange), herbs (rosemary) flowers (lilac), roots/roots powders(eucalyptus root powder), leaves/stems(lemon leaf oil).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Yankee candles made of?
Yankee Candles are typically made from paraffin wax, fragrance oil (natural or synthetic), and a wick. The type of candle will determine the ingredients that go into it! For example, beeswax candles need to be scented with honey-based fragrances because they’re not able to melt off these types of oils like other types of candles can.
What are PartyLite candles made of?
PartyLite candles are made from food-grade paraffin wax, and they have no dangerous chemicals. Plus, each PartyLite candle has a pure cotton wick that emits white smoke instead of black because there is no lead in the wick.
What are white candles made of?
Most white candles are made out of a waxy petroleum compound called paraffin. It is naturally white.
What are colored candles made of?
Red, green, blue, and other candles are made of paraffin wax with a dye or pigment mixed in.
Candles are a great way to create ambiance, but what exactly is in them? As it turns out, there’s more than just wax and wick. There can be additives like dyes or fragrance oils that help make the candle smell better.
I hope this article has given you some new insights into the chemicals that are used to make candles. Did we miss anything? Leave your thoughts in a comment below!