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How are candles made?

While modern candle-making processes vary, most candles are made through the timeless process of placing a cotton wick into wax which is then molded, dipped, extruded, pressed, rolled, drawn or filled into a desired shape and size.

Are scented candles safe?

Yes. When a candle burns, the wax is drawn into the wick, where it is "consumed" by the candle flame to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide. The only difference with a scented candle is that a small amount of fragrance is released as well. Reputable candle manufacturers use only fragrances that are approved for burning in candles. They also carefully monitor the addition of fragrance to ensure that the candle will burn cleanly and properly.

What are the typical ingredients in a candle?

A candle consists primarily of wax and a wick. Many candles also contain dyes or pigments for color and fragrances for scent as well as other minor ingredients.

Are candlewicks made of lead?

The majority of wicks manufactured today are made of 100 percent cotton – with no metal core. Those few wicks with metal are typically zinc-core wicks. All of these wicks are safe. Even though Consumer Product Safety Commission determined in 1974 that lead-core wicks do not present a health hazard, most reputable candle manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to stop using lead wicks. If a consumer is still worried, a consumer can determine if a candle has a lead-core wick by using this simple test: Rub a piece of paper on the tip of an unused metal wick. A lead-core wick will leave a gray pencil-like mark, while zinc or tin will not. It is important for consumers to know that wicks made with cotton, paper, zinc, or non-metallic materials are safe.

What kinds of waxes are typically used in candles?

The most commonly used candle wax is paraffin. Beeswax, vegetable-based waxes, gels, and synthetic waxes are also frequently used in candles. Different blends of these waxes are popular with many manufacturers.

How long should I burn a candle?

Maximum burn times vary from candle to candle; follow the manufacturer's instructions. Always extinguish a candle if the flame gets too close to the candle holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (1\2 inch if a container candle or jar candle).

Will candle colors fade?

Candles will fade if left in the light for an extended period of time. Never put candles in a window or directly expose to bright outdoor light or indoor spotlights.

What causes a candle to smoke, and how to correct it?

A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. However, if the wick becomes too long, or an air current disturbs the flame's teardrop shape, small amounts of unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame as a visible wisp of smoke. Any candle will soot if the flame is disturbed. To avoid this, always trim the wick to 1/4 inch before every use and be sure to place candles away from drafts, vents or air currents. If a candle continually flickers or smokes, it is not burning properly and should be extinguished. Allow the candle to cool, trim the wick, make sure the area is draft free, then re-light.

What is the best way to store candles?

Candles should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place and, for tapers, in a flat position to prevent warping. When stored properly, candles can be enjoyed for years and play an important role in traditions.

Are candles safe to use?

Candles are safe when burned properly and responsibly, and according to manufacturers’ directions. When burning candles, consumers should always follow these simple, common sense steps:
  1. Never leave a burning candle unattended
  2. Never place a burning candle near something that can catch fire
  3. Keep burning candles out of the reach of children or pets
  4. Avoid putting candles in drafts to prevent rapid and uneven burning and excessive dripping.
  5. For Jar candles, keep wicks trimmed to about 1/4”. Long enough to melt the wax but short enough to limit smoke and soot.
  6. Extinguish taper or pillar candles when they get within 2" of their holders
  7. Discontinue use of a container candle when 1/2" of wax remains
  8. Keep matches, wick trimmings and foreign objects out of the candle wax
  9. Always store candles in a cool, dark, dry place.
  10. Candles should always be burned in proper candle-holders or on heat resistant bases.
  11. Keep votive wicks centered and trimmed to 1/4" while burning to prevent breaking the glass.

What is soot?

Soot is a natural by-product of incomplete combustion and is comprised primarily of carbon particles. Soot can be caused by fireplaces, stoves, furnaces, or even from cooking. If candlewicks are kept trimmed and there is proper ventilation with no drafts, there should be no incomplete combustion and, therefore, no sooting from candles. Do scented candles produce more soot or smoke than non-scented candles? Not necessarily. While unscented wax may tend to burn more efficiently in general, it is the size of the wick and flame that makes the most difference, not the fragrance. Candles produced using appropriate raw materials should burn cleanly if used properly.

Are scented candles triggers for asthma or allergies?

Although millions of Americans regularly use scented candles without any negative effects, it is always possible that a particular fragrance might trigger a negative reaction in sensitive individuals. Individuals with known sensitivities to specific fragrances may want to avoid candles of those scents. In addition, consumers should remember to burn all candles, whether scented or unscented, in a well-ventilated area.