WAX ADDITIVES, DO WE NEED THEM?

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There are candle products for sale filled to the brim with additives, and it's perfectly legal! Wax additives are a big part of the mainstream candle industry.

  • Additives eliminate product imperfections and enhance performance.
  • Additives enhance product appearance and retard degradation.
  • Additives allow low-grade materials to be used [without it unduly affecting burn performance].

Manufacturers are not naïve they know the inclusion of additives in candle products can present a risk to consumers, but candle manufacturing these days is a highly profitable industry, and each manufacturer wants to stand out in the sea of competitors with candle products that capture the largest market possible.

additives post coverIn the early days of candle making, manufacturers developed their own wax formulations. It was considered a combination of art, science and personal preference, and they spent years refining their technical and creative expertise [in working with various waxes].

 It’s therefore not surprising that have no desire to change over to a commercially produced candle wax, even though many high-quality blended waxes that do not include additives are available for purchase these days.

The quality criteria for waxes used in candle products are mostly unknown to consumers and it's not easily accessible. Time and time again there have been announcements of the consumer being endangered by poor quality raw materials, shortcomings related to technical safety, as well as the formation of harmful additives [or other such substances] occurring, but the purity and harmlessness of raw materials has never been questioned, because, for these manufacturers it would affect the all-important profit margin!

Wax Additives used in candle making can be broken into several distinct groups.

  • Polymers: Polymers are commonly known as synthetic polyethylenes and copolymers. These additives are used to dramatically improve the appearance and performance of a candle. Vybars [the most common polymer] improve opacity, hardness, fragrance retention, and colour dispersion.
  • Microcrystalline Waxes: Microcrystalline waxes are used to harden wax, assist with glass adhesion [in container candles] and allow the candle maker to push the fragrance load boundary without any ill effects.
  • Individually Based Solution Additives: Stearic Acid, Stearin, Mineral Oils, Mottling Oils, Polysorbate, UV Light Inhibitor and UV Light Stabilizer, EVA, Petrolatum, Polyethylene, Lustre Crystals, Container Maker and Universal Additive (to name just a few) are mostly used to improve the appearance and to reduce scent and colour degradation.
    So are additives a concern?

The fact is candle manufacturers do not need to incorporate additives into the making of their candles, but they do to ensure their candle products look fresh and inviting, regardless of how long they sit on a shop shelf.

As a hobbyist candle maker I used additives until I realised they were unnecessary and potentially harmful, then I did a full about-face.  As a professional candle maker, the only additive I opted to use for our 20-40 kilo pillar candles, was stearin to increase the overall hardness because of the sheer size and heat generated from around 9-12 candle wicks!  

chandelle galerie shop yellow candlesIn the Chandelle Galerie Candle School, I always explained to my students that the inclusion of additives was their choice.

The thing is, candles without additives may not look as pretty, they may not last as long, they might have frosting, wet spots, lumps and bumps, but they are entirely safe to burn, and I personally think that is pretty important!

If you are concerned about the potentially harmful effects of additives, please read our article on the use of phthalates in fragrance oils.

I leave you to make your own decisions and hope this article has been helpful.

 

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Tuesday, 28 June 2022

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