What makes a high quality candle
Candles: warm light for cozy hours
Warm, soft candlelight is just as much a part of the Christmas season as cookies and hot drinks. The range of candles is huge and there are also big differences in price. What should buyers look out for?
Whether slim or thick, colored or white: candles are available in almost every imaginable shape and color. They are made from paraffin, stearin or beeswax, and often from a mixture of paraffin and stearin.
- Most candles are made from hard paraffin, a substance that is created as a by-product of the refining of petroleum. This means that they are not exactly among the most environmentally friendly products. Paraffin melts at around 55 degrees Celsius.
- Much less often, candles are made of stearin, which is mainly obtained from vegetable raw materials such as palm oil. It only melts at around 65 degrees and is less elastic than paraffin. Although stearin is considered a renewable raw material, environmentalists are also critical of it. In order to cultivate the common raw material palm oil, large areas of primeval forest are cleared in Southeast Asia.
- Beeswax candles must not contain any additives. The natural raw material is only available to a limited extent, which is why beeswax candles are usually more expensive than candles made from paraffin or stearin.
- Candles made from vegetable wax based on rapeseed, sunflower or soybean oil are considered a vegan and sustainable alternative. However, one should pay attention to the growing conditions and buy candles made from local organic raw materials if possible.
Additives in colored candles and scented candles
Paraffin or stearin candles are initially white. In order to produce colored candles, fat-soluble color pigments are added to the raw material - the result is solidly colored candles. Soaked candles are cheaper to produce: manufacturers dip white candles in a mixture of wax and color pigments to wrap them in a colorful coat.
Uncolored candles burn best, because dyes can clog the wick and negatively affect the burning behavior. Paraffin and stearin burn largely odorless. Fragrances of the most varied of aromas and intensity are added to special scented candles.
Pollutants: Avoid smoke and soot
Burning candles removes oxygen from the air in the room and causes pollutants. In the opinion of consumer advocates, however, the quantities are very small, regardless of the fuel. If the candle begins to flicker or to soot, the pollution with fine dust increases significantly. Therefore candles should not be in a draft or burn with a wick that is too long.
If the flame burns deep into the wax, it does not get enough oxygen and more pollutants are formed. To extinguish, press the wick into the liquid wax, as this will prevent smoke. If candles have been burning in a room for a long time, they should be well ventilated afterwards.
What matters when it comes to the wick
The wick of a candle is usually made of braided cotton threads. The thicker the candle, the thicker the wick. The wick pulls up liquid wax that burns. In the middle of the flame, however, the temperature is lower than at the edge. It is therefore important that the wick curves in about a quarter circle and extends into the hotter zone of the fire. There the wick tip comes into contact with oxygen, glows and gradually burns off.
Recognize the quality of candles
It is difficult to assess the quality of candles before buying them. The RAL quality mark can be a reference point. Products that are marked with this have been tested with a view to high-quality raw materials as well as low-smoke and drip-free burning.
Another characteristic of good candles is weight. The heavier a candle of the same size, the longer it should burn. Around seven to ten grams of wax burn per hour - with stearin, it tends to be a little less. However, the strength of the wick and the size of the flame also play a role. Finding the optimal ratio of wick and diameter is considered a high art of candle making.
Making candles: pressing, pouring, drawing
Candles can be made in three different processes. Industrially manufactured straight candles are mainly pressed. For this purpose, powdered paraffin is filled into a sleeve and pressed together on both sides under high pressure.
Alternatively, candles can also be poured. Liquid wax is poured into rubber molds and solidifies in them. Pure stearin candles are only made using a casting process. Simple, elongated candles in particular can also be made using the drawing process: The wick is repeatedly dipped into liquid wax, which cools down layer by layer.
This is how candles burn down safely
As beautiful as their light is - wherever candles are burning, you should always observe a few precautionary measures. Candles should always stand upright and never burn down unattended. It is also advisable to protect them from drafts. Always keep a sufficient distance from flammable objects such as curtains. A distance of at least ten centimeters is also recommended between the individual candles.
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