Greenspace Candles was started by two friends who fell in love with all the benefits of industrial hemp. In 1999 they learned of the health hazards of most candles on the market. They noticed a few brands of so-called ‘hemp’ candles, but came to learn that the remainder of such candles (80-90% of the candle) was often paraffin, a petroleum-based wax, which has been found to contain many carcinogenic toxins as well as create soot in the buildings they are burned. A similar realization occurred with learning about aromatherapy–while shopping for candles they found that many of them were labeled as ‘aromatherapy’ candles when indeed, unless otherwise specified, most were toxic, carcinogenic paraffin candles simply with added essential oils.
Once they learned alternative waxes were available that were 100% plant, it became apparent that they could help the planet AND the people while promoting the advantages of hemp via the creation of an all-plant candle. The decision was made to make soy wax candles with hemp oil, all in fabulous fragrances. The first candles were made on the back porch of the founders’ home in Portland, Oregon. 10 years later, their family was growing, and they made the decision to sell their thriving company.
The new owners are as partnership dedicated to continuing the Greenspace tradition of producing safer, Earth friendly soy wax candles. Now Geenspace Candles are available on-line, at Portland Saturday Market and other area craft fairs, in consignment shops in the Portland area and are offered wholesale to businesses across the Country.
Besides creating great smelling, long-lasting eco-friendly soy candles, Greenspace helps lessen its footprint on the earth by 1) using both sides of printed paper or keeping for notes, 2) recycling or reusing all packaging received as well as containers and bags, 3) using renewable wind power energy for electricity, 4) using cushioned envelopes made from recycled paper and/or recycling packaging materials instead of virgin bubble wrap, and 5) taking back candle containers for reuse (mostly from the local community).
Part of our mission is to help the public become aware of the toxins around them so that we can all make informed decisions about what we put into our home, into or onto our bodies, and into the environment. Our favorite charities to help out are Farm Sanctuary, Best Friends, The Humane Farming Institute, and OSPIRG.
From The November 2003 Issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser( http://www.naturalfoodsmerchandiser.com/nfm_backs/nov_03/candle.cfm )
Candle Market Burns Brightly
by Anna Soref
Candles do more than produce light; they are lit for celebration, ritual, fragrance and romance, all reasons why consumers are buying up votives, pillars and tapers in record numbers. In 2002, U.S. candle sales reached $2.3 billion, up by more than 10 percent from the past year, according to the American Candle Association.
What does a naturals retailer need to know about candles? They seem harmless enough, a simple wax with a cloth wick. But throughout the years, candles have been made with not-so-healthy materials, including tallow and lead, which can fill a room with noxious fumes and scar walls with soot. Today, natural candle manufacturers are discovering ways to create bright- and long-burning candles with nontoxic materials.
What’s In A Wax
Humans have been searching for the ideal candle medium for about as long as they’ve been using fire. Early candles were simply tallow–animal fat–with a piece of cloth for a wick. Later innovations included spermaceti oil from whales, bayberry wax and beeswax. When paraffin was introduced in the late 19th century, it revolutionized the candle industry. The petroleum byproduct produces odorless, long-burning candles at a fraction of the cost of other materials.
Whether or not paraffin is a healthy candle wax is a matter of debate. Some people question whether a gasoline byproduct and a nonrenewable resource should be on naturals shelves. Others say highly refined paraffin burns cleanly and, when combined with other healthy materials, is an affordable option for quality natural candles.
“We use paraffin because we are a candle company and it’s a great wax,” says Dave Cacciamani, vice president of Morrisville, Vt.-based Way Out Wax. Its pillar candles contain food-grade, 100 percent biodegradable paraffin, beeswax, vegetable wax and hemp seed oil. “We’ve been researching for over six years now to get a good paraffin-free pillar and not had anything that’s come close to satisfactory for us in terms of appearance and burn quality,” he says.
Paraffin-free pillar candles can even be dangerous, Cacciamani says. “Without paraffin, a pillar candle can be brittle and get fractures, increasing oxygen to the flame and causing a blowout where wax can go everywhere and be a fire hazard.”
Many naturals companies make paraffin-free container candles because consistency is not an issue. Way Out’s container candles are primarily soy along with other vegetable waxes. The container candles come with lids for easy transport and are scented with pure essential oils.
For some manufacturers, paraffin is not a wax option. “Paraffin is carcinogenic,” says Tami Bazies, owner of Portland, Ore.-based Greenspace Candles, which makes 100 percent paraffin-free container candles. “It creates a lot of petrocarbon soot, which is ugly and can damage furniture and wall paint.” She says the company does not offer pillar candles because soy wax doesn’t work well enough in the stand-alone form.
The Wax and the Bees
So where does beeswax come from anyway? Honeybees secrete beeswax to build combs and store honey. Beekeepers can obtain wax from cappings, scraping or the comb itself. Cappings produce the most wax and are the preferred method. When the bees fill up the comb with honey, they cap it with wax, which the beekeeper can take without disturbing the hive. –A.S.
For Aroma Naturals, candle fragrance is the key to making a healthy candle. “It’s more important that the smell comes from essential oils than where the wax comes from,” says owner Tina Rocca-Lundstrom. “There are more harmful toxins from synthetic fragrance than there are from food-grade paraffin.” The Irvine, Calif.-based company’s candles are made from three different wax varieties, including 100 percent vegetable wax, beeswax and paraffin.
Currently, there are no government labeling requirements for candles, so manufacturers don’t have to list ingredients. Retailers and consumers need to educate themselves about candle ingredients, Rocca-Lundstrom says. “They’ll buy a soy candle to avoid petrochemicals, but then it has artificial fragrance with all kinds of harsh chemicals in it,” she says.
The company’s two staff aromatherapists source essential oils from around the globe. The oils are tested with the waxes to make sure they are the right quality and burn properly before they are purchased.
Aroma Naturals VegePure candles were chosen to be in the Golden Globes’ and Emmys’ gift bags this year. “We were really excited to be picked, and that so many people out there are learning about how different essential oils smell from synthetic fragrances,” Rocca-Lundstrom says.
Many people consider beeswax to be the finest candle medium available. “It’s got a very high melting point so it burns at a much slower rate. It’s pretty much the slowest burning candle fuel out there,” says Jon Kornbluh, owner of Blue Corn Naturals in Rico, Colo. “It’s got a really special light, a much warmer and brighter flame than other waxes.” Beeswax carries a high price tag, though, the main reason it’s not used more often.
The company makes candles from raw beeswax purchased from domestic beekeepers–about 20,000 pounds of it a year. “The wax bricks will have bee parts, whole bees, sometimes honey pockets,” Kornbluh says. “After you melt it and strain out the large particulate, you are left with this incredible sweet-smelling material that is just magic. It’s very much alive.”
Until recently, Blue Corn’s beeswax line was scented naturally by the pollen. But it now offers an aromatherapy line that combines essential oils with the fragrance inherent in the beeswax. “It really affects the blends we do; some oils really want to go with that note of beeswax and some don’t,” he says.
Unlike many companies that pour their candles, Blue Corn rolls its beeswax pillar candles from solid sheets of beeswax. Minute layers of air between each layer help the candle’s burn quality, Kornbluh says. “It also looks beautiful, [because] we finish the candle with a beveled wave. It’s our distinct look,” he says.
What About Wicks?
Candle wax is not the only area of concern about toxic materials when it comes to candle making. In 1991, the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission banned the use of lead in wicks for support while burning. Yet, because laboratory testing is needed to detect the metal, many manufacturers, particularly foreign ones, continue to use the toxic substance, which can release up to five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for young children.
Naturals manufacturers have discovered a range of alternative wick materials. Greenspace Candles uses unbleached cotton and hemp for the wicks in its container candles. It wasn’t until six months ago that owner Bazies was able to source a company making wicks with soy wax. (A small amount of wax is needed on the wicks when they are inserted by machine.) “It’s great because my candles are 100 percent paraffin-free,” she says.
Retailers who merchandise their candles with care will have the strongest sales. “Retailers who keep their shelves clean and really pay attention to how [candles] are displayed do really well,” Rocca-Lundstrom says. Way Out Wax has increased its sales by supplying retailers with information cards customers can take with them. “Education definitely helps,” Cacciamani says. “The stores that do well display our educational materials and do their own publicity for natural candles.”
But considering the numbers (see sidebar), candle sales should not be too difficult for most naturals retailers. “Alternative waxes are happening,” says Kornbluh. “Awareness about air quality and toxicity is increasing and so are natural candle sales.”
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 11/p. 32, 34
SATYA MAGAZINE (June/July 2003)
Blow-out! Plant-wax Candles
By Catherine Clyne
Leave it to Satya to sniff out a shady side to something as (seemingly) harmless as candles. That’s right–relaxing, softly glowing, scented candles.
Did you know that most candles emit toxins that can give you headaches and nausea at best, or worse–be absorbed into your body to accumulate and cause damage somewhere along the road? Rather than beeswax, commercial candles are usually made of paraffin, a petroleum product that when burned, releases carcinogens in a sooty smoke that–blackening walls and furniture–is absorbed by the lungs. Scented candles often have synthetic fragrances added, some of which are quite dangerous when burned. Mix in the chemical fixatives and synthetic glosses that bind the candles, and bleached cotton wicks and metal-laced cores, and you’ve got quite a foul stew.
It’s not easy to avoid this, since candles are not required to have ingredients listed. So what to do? The good news is there’s a growing number of enlightened candle makers who are creating “clean-burning” candles made from plant-based renewable resources. So if you like to relax with softly glowing candles, we discovered a few nice ones, but there are many others out there.
We were intrigued by this small Portland, Oregon based, woman-owned business. Greenspace Naturals makes high-quality vegan candles from soy wax and hemp oil with non-chlorine bleached wicks that are 100 percent hemp or cotton. Laced with essential oils, these clean-burning candles come in recycled glass or tin containers (which prevents accelerated melting). The aromatherapy candles have unusual combinations of essential oils, like “Lunar Lavender,” a blend of lavender and cinnamon with a hint of ylang ylang, or “Lemon Squeeze,” with lemongrass and cinnamon ($8.45 six oz. tin; $13.88 glass square). The cinnamon adds a surprising and refreshing touch of spice. Greenspace Naturals does not use paraffin wax, animal products, synthetic fixatives, or chemical glosses. A portion of their profits is used to help preserve the environment and fight animal cruelty.
To view or order from their online catalog, visit www.greenspacenaturals.com, or call (503) 289-4206.
To learn more about Satya, visit http://www.satyamag.com
“I received my candles this weekend and absolutely adore them! They smell wonderful; burn perfectly; and look better in person than I ever hoped. I just wanted to personally thank you for making such a great product.” – C. Eckhardt
“Your candles are the BEST! They burn so clean and last for hours! Best of all, they burn all the way down to nothing. I’ve never found a candle that would do that before! And the natural oils and scents you use are wonderful — especially mango, grapefruit and vanilla.” – M. Closson
“Fell in love … I came across your booth in the the Portland’s Saturday Market, I bought it because of the tin…not really the candle (okay so shoot me!), I burned it for the first time last night and I LOVE IT!! I lit it at night, and dozed of and awoke 4 hours later, with a really light pleasing scent, and it barely dented the candle .. I love the fact that it’s not overpowering scent and that it lasted so long and the tin didn’t get hot!! All I can say is wow ….” – A. Song
“Just wanted to let you know I have been enjoying my candles. They are incredible. Thanks for the freebee. My mother sent some to her friend, who enjoyed them as well. I think she will be ordering for herself soon! ” – C. Stover
“Hello! I recently received a candle of yours…Vanilla Bean Dream…and I LOVE it! It truly does scent my entire house and lastsforever! I want to buy one for my mom. My friend got it at the Portland Saturday market…where else do you sell them?” – N. Hilton
“I have had several of your candles over the past year and just love them! They definitely last longer than other candles. I especially appreciate the wonderful depth of fragrance that I have not found with other candles–no matter what scent I choose!” – D. Goles
“We love giving them as gifts. In fact, this last year we got complaints from our family when we got them something other than your candles for the holidays!” – F. Maher
“I absolutely love your candles! There’s no need to buy any others anymore thanks to how long and cleanly yours burn!! My favorite is the Vanilla Bean Dream and the new mango is great too, they smell good enough to eat!” – M. Monroe
“Just wanted to let you know your soy candles are great! I love all the fragrances I’ve gotten and they burn on and on!!” – S. Aoki
“Hi all, I can vouch for how wonderful these candles are! Tami passed them out to all the guests at her wedding. They don’t smoke or put out black soot like some rather expensive candles I’ve bought in the past. The scents are fresh and very authentic. You don’t think someone just sprayed the room with Glade! (Just FWIW if you want a testimonial from someone who has tried these candles. They are fabulous.)” – Lisa Nyberg
“I sure love your candles! They have been a hit so far. Also, since starting my quitting smoking program, the smell of the candles help me get past some of the cravings since I’m not smelling the 30+ years of smoke inside the house.” – B. Smith
“We have been enjoying your long burning candles in our office and at home since they were first introduced five years ago. The natural scents are very pleasant, and without any gray on our walls!” – Dr. Bowers
“Your candles are the best! They burn for much longer then other candles and the scent is light and natural not like the overly perfumed candles from the store.” – A. Makhoul (referring to the Pure Aromatherapy blends)