One of the things I enjoy most about my field of work is the unexpected aspect of healthy and non-toxic living. Health and wellness is not just about what you put in your mouth or what foods you’d be better off avoiding, but also encompass what you put ON your body, the air you breath, the environment you dwell in, your stress levels and mental wellbeing.
It has been quite a journey learning how to clean up my environment, switching to holistic and chemical-free beauty products, decreasing harsh chemicals in the air I breath, taking my thoughts captive to support my dreams and wellbeing and how I can inspire and educate others on how to do some of the same.
Because we only get one body.
And that body needs us to be an advocate for its wellbeing because sadly, the companies that are selling the many foods and products we consume each day are not.
Don’t freak out here. No need to go and spend $90 on a holistic facial toner or rose petal infused lotion. The beauty in non-toxic living is the simplicity of it. With a few base ingredients, some essential oils and a little heart, you can rock out just about any alternative to your current beauty regimen.
This is an area I will begin incorporating on the blog because I feel that everyone who is anyone can benefit from it. We all use different beauty, house cleaning, air freshening, painting, [etc.] products so we can all stand to learn how to clean up our environmental toxins, why we need to for our health [and the health of our offspring] and how to begin incorporating clean, non-toxic living for everyday, real life.
Awareness is key here. Ignorance may be bliss in the short term [maybe], but we know that the synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, artificial scents and colors, among others, can have serious effects on our health and if you’re of childbearing age, the health of your future littles.
So, making a choice to live a non-toxic life has incredibly powerful effects on your health, both in the present and your many years ahead. That’s pretty powerful, huh?
Today I want to start this journey with a super simple recipe to make non-toxic candles. There are endless possibilities with these bad boys and I encourage you to have fun with this. You can change the essential oil combinations, the fruit or herbs you add to the candle, the size and shape of your jar and more.
But first, why does it matter what candles you use? I’m not putting it on my skin or ingesting it, so how does a burning candle effect my health in any way? Ah, great questions my friend.
How Your Candles Can Be a Source of Toxins + What to Do About It
- Aromatherapy candles often use paraffin, a petroleum byproduct which releases carcinogenic soot into the air when burned. This can aggravate those with asthma and allergies and those with other lung or heart problems. Burning a paraffin candle is like filling your home with diesel fuel and can be as dangerous as second-hand cigarette smoke. There can be numerous other toxic chemicals released from burning paraffin candles, many of which are found in other products like paint thinner, varnish removers and lacquer [that is some pretty harsh stuff!].
- The American Lung Association says, “Refrain from using scented or slow-burning candles that have additives.” The very reason most of us burn candles is to fill our homes with warm, sweet scents that remind us of baking cookies or being in our favorite spa, but these very smells we love an can be irritating to skin, lungs and eyes and can cause organ system toxicity.
- Choose candles that are scented with essential oils or try your hand at making your own candles where you an use a variety of essential oil combinations that can actually work to purify the air with their antimicrobial properties. My favorite combo is lavender and lemon, obviously. See recipe below.
- Toluene and benzene can be released into the air from the sooty residue of burning candles. The Environmental Working Group gives these two ingredients as 10 for their overall health concerns [based on a 1-10 scale with 10 being the worst]. Toluene is a potent neurotoxin and has been linked to toxicity of the immune system and blood cancers like malignant melanoma. No thanks.
- Again, go for beeswax and soy candles that take pride in a non-toxic product or make your own!
- Candle wicks, especially from older candles, can be made with lead. A candle with a lead-core wick can release five-times more lead into the air than what is considered hazardous to children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air. Lead exposure is linked to hormone disruption, learning disabilities, behavioral problems and numerous other health problems. The good thing is that lead-core wicks were banned in 2003. There is an easy test to see if your wick contains lead- rub the wick on a piece of paper, if it makes pencil like marks, trash it. Also, you can use your fingers to separate the wick and look for a visible wire inside.
- Look for wicks made of paper or cotton and have “lead-free” on the label.
For those individuals struggling to lose weight, I highly recommend starting to swap out your potentially toxic candles [and other beauty and cleaning products] as these chemicals and other compounds can accumulate in adipose [fat] tissue. This makes your body pretty apprehensive to let go of the weight, after all, those fat cells are protecting you from the dangers of those nasty chemicals! [Check out the Get at the Roots Program to learn how you can address this issue and many more that may be keeping you from releasing the weight for good!]
Candles are not the only ways to release warm, sweet scents into the air. Try some of the below tips to help bring clean scents to your home.
3 Tips to Scent Your World Without Candles:
- Diffuser or nebulizer- use either to bring not only the wonderful scents of your favorite essential oils, but also the incredible benefits they harness.
- Take a warm bath with Epsom salt and lavender, ylang ylang or geranium essential oils. If you do not have a whole house water filter, I would recommend purchasing a Crystal Ball Bath Dechlorinator to eliminate some of the chlorine from your water prior to you soaking.
- Rub essential oils behind your ears, on your temples or on the bottoms of your feet to help relax or invigorate, whatever you’re looking to feel. Make sure you choose pure oils and use a carrier oil for babies and children.
Ok, now for the good stuff! I love these candles and I have them burning around our home. The first time I made them I couldn’t smell anything so I made sure to add quite a bit more oil the next time around. You can adjust the oil combinations to your liking, skies the limit!
- 2- 12 oz Mason jars or other glass container
- 2 "lead free" wax wicks
- 2 clothes pins
- Double broiler
- Glass measuring cup
- 8 cups soy wax
- 25 drops pure lavender oil
- 20-25 drops pure lemon oil
- Fresh lavender, optional
- Lemon slices or peel, optional
- In a double broiler, pour soy wax and allow to melt, stirring occasionally to help break up the way and melt evenly.
- While the wax is melting, prepare your Mason jars by putting a drop of melted wax on the metal tab of the wick and gently place the tab on the inside bottom of the mason jar, using a pen or skewer to secure it in place while the wax dries. Because there is only a small amount of way, it will only take a few second to dry. Attach a clothes pin to the wick and lie the clothes pin on the rim of the Mason jar to hold the wick in the center of the jar.
- Once the wax has melted completed and is a yellow-ish liquid, pour into a glass measuring cup or something that will be easier [and safe] to pour wax into each jar. Pour the wax into each jar slowly, leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch free on top.
- At this point you can carefully sink the fresh lavender and lemon slices or peel into the candles. I used a skewer to help push it close to the sides of the jar and held them there for a few moments to allow a bit of the wax to dry and hold it in place. You can't see a whole lot of these because the wax dries white, but the fresh elements peaking through is a great touch.
- Allow the candles to set completely then remove the clothes pins and cut the wick down to about 1/4 inch. Light and enjoy!
- Please be very careful while making these candles, we are dealing with hot wax here!
- To keep the wax from making bubbles and cracks, wrap a towel around the jar to keep it from cooling too quickly. This would be especially important if you're in a colder climate or your house is a bit chilly.
Questions about essential oils or other whole food supplements? Please contact Justine Campbell, RD, NTP to learn more about the science behind these awesome compounds and how to make them part of your non-toxic medicine cabinet.