Friday, September 16, 2011

Medway Candle Crosses the Pond--for Research Purposes

We're putting on our travellin' shoes and taking to the road. England--the home of traditional, hand-made bee skeps, fields of lavender and centuries of herbal and gardening lore, calls out to us. Ok, it's calling in a sort of funny accent, but we're used to that, having spent a lot of time watching BBC.

We're going to do a couple of things on this autumnal venture down the lanes and hedgerows of the Old Country. We're going to check out the landscapes and botany of the place (much of which is similar to our own) and see if we find any eye-opening medicinal herbs that may also be growing under our noses right here at home. We're going to meet some beekeepers (we hope) and learn from them. We may even eat a scone or two, and sample some farm-made cider.

It's an exciting time here at Medway Candle--and for those of you who buy Mike's candles and Lori's creams at the local farmers' markets, don't you worry. After a short hiatus, Mike will be returning to at least one winter market and sometime this winter, you'll even be able to buy candles and essentials from us online. But don't worry: if you run out of beeswax candles or Bee Balm, Bee Serious or Bee Cool before our website's up and running, you can call or email us and we'll make sure to get you the products you need.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Medway Candle Welcomes Pete's Frootique

Medway Candle is so pleased to announce that the fine people at Pete's Frootique have added our beeswax candles to their line-up of natural products. Fact is, we've had a little piece of wedding cake under our pillows for a year, waiting and hoping that the best grocery and gourmet store in the province would take a gander at our candles, lip balm and creams: with Pete's stellar natural products section and their focus on providing the best to the folks of Halifax (and all of us who travel to the city to buy from their fantastic cheese counter, outrageous dessert shop and endless arrays of fresh veg) , it seemed like a match made in Heaven! Knowing that our beeswax candles are keeping company with the fine soaps, SLS-free shampoos and lovely essential oils crowding the shelves at Pete's on Spring Garden Road gives us a warm Medway Candle glow...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stinky Bee Becomes Buzz Off--and Bites are Down 80%!

Our new venture into mosquito repellent has been big fun and our test groups are telling us they like Buzz Off (nee, Stinky Bee) for all the bites they aren't getting. Tested on Long Cove Road, the buggiest place in Port Medway, with occasional forays into Keji adjunct and up the Mersey River with some naturalists, Buzz Off seems to be repelling the little devils at least as well as scary DEET-based bug juice, and without the toxicity. Made with smelly essential oils researched  in tropical climes like India and Thailand, our Buzz Off is composed of affordable and safe oils each shown to prevent bites. Personally, we hate the smell (having spilled a batch on the kitchen table), but our testers like it fine! Some are even using it as a perfume!

Made with four top-secret essential oils in a carrier base of grapeseed or olive oil, Buzz Off works for a solid hour before you need to reapply. One ingredient was chosen for its reputation as a tick repellent, the others, all repellents in their own right, work synergistically to offend mosquitoes and send them off looking for something else to eat. They'll still buzz you, but you'll find you get significantly fewer bites.

Now, if someone would only come up with a way to get us to put the stuff on BEFORE we go outside and get the first ten bites! (Why do we always hope there won't be any bugs?) One thing for sure, for Buzz Off to work, you have to put it on!

Our new, 25ml bottles are thick green glass--gorgeous--and sell for only $10.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Glass?

Our signature cobalt glass jars are the result of weeks of searching not just this continent but the whole world for just the right containers. It's not easy to find good containers in eastern Canada; most people give up and use clear plastic. But when you're using essential oils and vegetable carrier oils, you want to keep them as strong as possible for as long as possible. Essential oils keep their useful qualities when you keep them from the light, and we already knew that glass isn't going to leach chemicals into products the way plastics do. So we went out of our way to find lovely, thick, dark glass jars for our water-free Bee Serious and Bee Balm and our Bee Cool lip balm too. They cost a little more, but they're worth it. Recyclable, beautiful and safe, our cobalt jars are one example of how when compromising would have been easier, we stuck to our plan. If you're gonna do it, do it right.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Welcome to The Studios at Key West!

Photos from our candle shop and herb garden. Photos by Mike Bienstock...

 Black currant in bloom...

Melting beeswax for candlemaking

Lady's mantle, muscari and dandelion...


Spearmint, wild fruit mint and creeping Charlie

Purple and white violets and essential oils.

Votive candles

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bee Serious is for Seriously Sensitive Skin

Most people don't realize that hand creams are waaay over-engineered. Who knows why companies put so much junk in their products? A tiny pot of hand cream can have 25 or 30 ingredients!

The problems with having a lot of ingredients are several: for one thing, the more ingredients, the more likely there will be interactions between the various components, which may be irritating to delicate skin.

Another problem with lots of ingredients is that the useful or "active" ingredients can be present in teeny amounts and the manufacturer can list them on the packaging, even though their effects are nonexistent. So you'll see lotions or creams advertised "with aloe" or "with Vitamin E", but there's not enough to do you any good. Such products are "filled" with chemicals, additives, preservatives and usually the main ingredient, water.

A third problem is that the more ingredients, the more likely people with sensitivities will be sensitive to one or more ingredients. Some of us can't use "ordinary" ingredients like lanolin, alcohol or aromatics like camphor, which is cooling and smells nice, but can be irritating.

So we've created Bee Serious salve. Partly out of selfishness--the creator struggled with sensitive, cracked and painful hands for 30 years. Bee Serious cured her. Her hands are smooth and soft and healed. Bee Serious has an oil, a wax and essential oils. That's it. It works. If your hands overreact to soaps, dust, housework or gardening, if your skin cracks and hurts, try Bee Serious. Seriously.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Medway Candle Bath Salts

If you're looking for a last-minute gift that's personal but not presumptuous, bath salts scented with essential oils are inexpensive, thoughtful and gorgeous. We put 'em in embroidered satin and organza bags; you can have them in the ever-popular lavender or orange, with bergamot and petitgrain. You'll see them at the Nova Scotia farmers' markets in Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Hubbards--and at occasional fund-raisers like the one we did Saturday at the Chester Area Middle School (CAMS).

Epsom salts help restore levels of magnesium and do all kinds of good things for your body, because they're absorbed through the skin when you bathe. For the whole scoop, check out this link to the Epsom Salts Council

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Our 100% Pure Beeswax Candles

Medway Candle beeswax candle are all-beeswax, and that's a big deal. Candles with as little as 10% beeswax can be labeled "beeswax"--and too often are! If your "beeswax" candles aren't labeled "100% beeswax" they may contain large amounts of other waxes. Candles that aren't all-beeswax burn faster, drip and smoke. 100% pure beeswax candles should burn 4-5 times slower than paraffin.

We also use 100% cotton or paper wicks (depending on the type of candle), ordered from a reputable supplier. Our beeswax comes from a large honey producer whose harvest includes golden blocks of filtered beeswax. Mike hand-dips 7, 8 and 9-inch tapers (and other sizes by custom order), working late into the night by the heat of a Black Bear woodstove while he listens to jazz.

Votives, tea lights, hearts in two sizes and pillars are poured by hand into metal molds, allowed to cool, then removed from the molds and hand-finished. For ordering information or price lists, send us a comment on this blog; we'll get back to you within a day.

Breaking News: Our website is coming soon!

Monday, March 28, 2011

All-Natural Preservative Herbal-Active Hits Medway Candle Essentials!

Our water-free hand creams were created because we couldn't find a safe, natural, cruelty-free preservative that would allow us to put water in our products. (Without preservatives, water-based products are an open invitation to microbes...) Salves, which contain no water, are unwelcoming to bacteria, so we started with them.

But after much investigation, we've found a natural, vegetarian, cruelty-free preservative! It arrived last week, in an unassuming brown paper envelope.

Herbal Active is extracted from star anise, by Vic Cherikoff, in Australia. It's a broad-spectrum preservative being used in food and cosmetics, effective in teensy concentrations. We plan to use it in our water-based creams, which are currently under construction!

Medway Candle Bee Serious Balm

Bee Serious has been around for awhile now. It's based on the realization that the more ingredients a product has, the more likely someone will have a sensitivity to it. For example, some of us can't use products with glycerin, lanolin or borax--all ingredients common in hand creams.

Since I was 17, my hands crack at the least exposure to dish soap, dirt, metal and dust. A latex allergy makes most gloves useless, too. Over the years, the skin became thin; peeling an egg was hazardous duty!

People with sensitive hands know how painful it can be to do even simple things like cooking, sewing or brushing your hair. And most products only make it worse. So what's a seriously sensitive gal to do?

Make her own hand cream, of course. Bee Serious has four ingredients; an oil, two waxes and a drop of essential oil. Grapeseed oil, beeswax, soy wax, lavender. It works. My hands are smooth and whole; healed. They don't hurt anymore. It only took 29 years...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Essential Oils or Fragrance? What all candle-buyers should know about scent

Dear Readers,
If you're not already very clear on the difference between fragrance oils and essential oils, read this excellent article on the hazards of fragrance oils. Now, for the next week, read the label of every product you own--detergent, shampoo, soaps, cleaners, air fresheners and candles. Of course, candles! And know this: if a product claims it contains "fragrance" it is talking about chemically synthesized scents. (You may even find that "unscented" products contain fragrance to mask the smell of the product!) Look for products that contain only essential oils--they're hard to find. But they're worth it. Go on now, and follow the link below to find out more than you ever wanted to know about the fragrance chemicals currently found in nearly every product on the market.

This is Why Medway Candle Shuns Fragrance Oils

Why Not Paraffin?

If you've ever suffered stomach distress after dinner by candlelight or oil lamp, it might not have been the food...Here's what restaurant owners, Perfect Hosts and all of us need to know about paraffin candles...
Paraffin Candles: The Nasty Facts

What is Paraffin?

  • Paraffin is extracted from the sludge (called “slack wax” because of its oil content) left from the processing of crude oil. It is a waste product. The oil industry is delighted to have found a use for paraffin: the burning of candles in homes, restaurants and churches.
  • After the slack wax is obtained, solvents are added to further extract leftover oil.
  • To remove unwanted colour, the product is then passed through a bed of clay: after this filtration, the clay bed is passed through a furnace, which burns off the chemicals left from the paraffin filtration—and where do you suppose those chemicals wind up? In the air.
  • To remove unwanted odour, the wax is passed through a vacuum stripping tower, which uses water or steam to remove more chemicals (and where do they go?).
  • In scented candles, the addition of chemically synthesized fragrances increases the soot levels, asthmatic and other allergic reactions and carcinogenic compounds. Because paraffin tends to neutralize essential oils (which are steam distilled from herbs, fruits, bark, spices or flowers), the candle industry uses manmade chemical fragrances in paraffin candles. Besides, chemical fragrances are much, much cheaper than essential oils.
  • Although using lead in wicks is prohibited, many candle producers (particularly from other countries) still do so. Lead has been used to make the wicks stiff, so they stand up while the candle burns. The lead is vaporized on burning, and rises into the air, where it is inhaled.
If You're Burning Paraffin, You're Breathing Poison

In a random group of over 30 candles tested, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found:

carbon disulfide
carbon tetrachloride
carbon black (soot) particulate matter

trichlo-roethene                                   tetrachloroethene                                toluene
xylene                                                  styrene                                                 phenol
cresol                                                   chlorobenzene                                     ethylbenzene

Some of these chemicals have been identified as known cancer-causing agents. Others cause lung, kidney and liver and eye damage, skin burns and birth defects.

Paraffin candles (especially scented ones) can cause allergic reactions, dermatitis, lung problems, asthma attacks and even stomach upsets. Paraffin candles, being petroleum products, emit soot, which deposits on walls, furnishings and art works (and in lungs). Beeswax and soy candles do not create soot.

Medway Candles--Taper, Votive, Pillar, Tea-light or Heart?

 Mike's making candles by the dozen. Hand-dipped tapers in 7, 8, and 9 inches. Custom tapers from birthday-sized to menorah candles, to Danish Christmas candles. And all kinds of other candles, and all in beeswax.

Beeswax Facts

            It’s inexpensive!
Beeswax, because of its hardness and higher melting point, burns 4-5 times longer than paraffin, making beeswax candles a cost-effective choice.

            It’s safe
Beeswax gives off no harmful chemicals when it burns.

            It’s smokeless
Beeswax doesn’t smoke when it burns (although the wick will smoke when you blow out the candle).

            It’s renewable and green
Beeswax doesn’t require off-shore drilling, or refining. It’s environmentally safe and always in production.

            It’s a natural air purifier
Burning beeswax produces negative ions which bind to particles in the air (such as dust, dander and pollen): the now-heavier particles drop to the floor, leaving the air cleaner than it was before. 

            The Colors of Beeswax
Beeswax comes in colors ranging from nearly white to pale gold, to brown. The color in beeswax comes from the nectars and pollens brought in by the bees; beeswax tends to darken as it ages. But beeswax candles that appear greyish-brown have been melted and poured at too-high a heat...

           White Beeswax?
Although beeswax is white when it first comes from the bee, hive activity turns it gold with pollen. “Bleached” beeswax is white. It can be bleached by the use of light, filtration, melting, natural products or chemicals. Even natural bleaching can remove the natural, honey-like fragrance, so true beeswax lovers generally avoid bleached wax.

Medway Candle is Online!

Finally, when someone asks, "Do you have a website?" we can answer, "Sure do! And it's a blog."

Medway Candle started about a year ago, when Mike Bienstock realized that no one was selling beeswax candles in Queens County, and there were darned few around in Lunenburg county, too. At his home, located on the sweet mouth of Nova Scotia's Medway Harbour, he started making candles with the fine, pure wax of Tom Cosman, and people started buying them. Several hundred farmers' markets later...