Candles are very simple items that can be found in various households across the world. They are made from two main parts, which are the candle wax and the candle wick; and although, there are different types of candles in the world, these two parts are constant components of each one of them.
The type of material used in making the candle goes a long way in determining the type of candle in use. For instance, candles made from paraffin wax are called paraffin wax candles, those made from beeswax are called beeswax candles, and so on.
THE HISTORY OF CANDLES
Candles are objects that have been used to provide indoor illumination for thousands of years. The earliest forms of candles are those that are made from tallow or boiled down fat obtained from the carcasses of slaughtered cows and other types of livestock. In some part of the world, the fat used in making tallow candles were also obtained from generally unconventional sources such as sharks and other aquatic mammals (Ancient China and other eastern parts of the world were particularly known for this). Some other forms of early candles were made by wrapping insects up in paper which would then be set on fire (in such instances, the bodies of the insects serve as the fuel source). However candles have evolved since those times, and now, paraffin wax candles are some of the most popular types of candles.
There are different types of candles in the world and each one is named after the type of material used in making it. Tallow candles are some of the oldest types ever recorded by history, and they were relatively expensive to make. In contrast, however, paraffin wax candles are relatively new inventions which are much cheaper to produce in large quantities. And this is part of the reason why they are very popular today. Other reasons include the fact that paraffin candles absorb scents and colors well, and they can be used to form different types of candles of varying levels of hardness.
Other types of candles include soy wax candles (which are obtained from vegetable sources, and are therefore some of the most ecologically sustainable candles in the world) and beeswax candles, which are arguably some of the best types of candles in the world. Candles can also be formed by combining different compatible types of waxes in different percentages.
WHAT ARE PARAFFIN CANDLES?
Paraffin wax candles are some of the cheapest types of candles in the world. They were first invented towards the end of the 19th century, during the era when tallow candles were the most common types of candles in the world (tallow candles are the types of candles which are formed when fat derived from the carcasses of slaughtered cows and other livestock are gathered and boiled down in order to make candle wax. Due to the nature of the material used in making them (i.e. animal fat), tallow candles are typically known to give off the aroma of burning fat, which some people may find unpleasant. Also, the nature of the raw materials used in making tallow candles is responsible for the candle’s yellowish hue, and this is why tallow candles are not usually completely white in color, except in the event where they are suitably bleached).
Paraffin candles are very popular because they can be produced in large quantities, inside factories. As a matter of fact, this is part of why they easily and quickly replaced tallow candles, in the 19th century (when they were first introduced into the market). Being much cheaper to produce than tallow candles, and a lot easier to handle, paraffin candles were quickly preferred by candle makers (or chandlers). Also, tallow candles can take more quantities of colors and fragrance, which makes them a lot more suitable for making colored and scented candles. And because they are normally white in color, upon formation, there is typically no need to bleach this type of candles (i.e. paraffin candles).
However, despite all these reasons for the popularity of paraffin wax candles, there are still a lot of health concerns where this type of candles is concerned.
DOES PARAFFIN WAX CAUSE CANCER?
Some of the concerns many people have about paraffin wax candles has to do with the fact that people think they are unhealthy to the health of both humans and animals. This is because a lot of people say that candles emit certain gases which can lead to certain complications and illnesses; such gases or chemicals are usually a lot more abundant in the case of paraffin wax candles because such candles (i.e. paraffin wax candles) are made from the byproducts of petroleum or crude oil (they may also be formed from the processing of shale or coal).
Paraffin candles are usually reported to cause illnesses and conditions such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, birth defects, kidney damage, bone marrow damage and respiratory diseases such as asthma and allergies (although, technically, candles are not said to cause such respiratory diseases as much as they are reported to worsen them). This is because they are known to give off a relatively considerable amount of soot, benzene, toluene, acetaldehyde, acrolein and formaldehyde, which are carcinogenic agents and byproducts of petroleum which are not ecologically friendly. These chemicals are usually responsible for a lot of the health conditions associated with candles (particularly paraffin wax candles), when they occur in large quantities, especially in areas where there is no proper ventilation.
Although the burning of paraffin candles does not produce large quantities of carcinogenic agents, it is a fact that they (paraffin candles) do produce a considerable amount of these chemicals compared to other types of candles which are more ecological in nature (e.g. soy candles and beeswax candles, which are known to burn a lot more cleaner). Therefore it is possible for paraffin wax to cause cancer, if they are burned excessively and continuously; under conditions of improper ventilation.