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...