HOW TO BUY THE BEST BEESWAX CANDLES: #1

September 25, 2018 2 Comments

How to buy the best beeswax candles

When Big Moon Beeswax attends Artisan showcase events, we get many, many questions about how to buy the best beeswax candles and we realized that we needed to get some straightforward, honest information out there to the candle buying public. We decided to do a series of blog posts on the subject called, “How to Buy the Best Beeswax Candles” and we’ll break it down into different areas to look for during this blog post series.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE BEST BEESWAX CANDLE MAKER

Let’s start off by pointing out that there are a number of great beeswax candle-makers out there making beautiful and safe beeswax candles. This is not a post about ‘our candles are better than their candles’ because not one beeswax candle-maker has the “best beeswax candles” in the world. As a candle-maker Big Moon Beeswax wants to help people know what types of things to look for when buying beeswax candles because there really is no oversight on all the candle-makers out there and no requirement to offer proof of advertising claims. In the United States, we have the National Candle Association to provide candle-makers with valuable information on the science of candles and industry guidelines, and hopefully, most beeswax candle sellers are well versed in these guidelines.

START WITH SAFETY

If you are buying your candles in a shop, a large chain store, or at an Arts & Craft show, check to see if they use safety information labels on the candles they sell. There are guidelines for the type of information that safety labels should have and all candles should come with safety instructions. Even if the candle is too small to affix a label to it, the packaging or handouts should include that valuable information. Yes, it’s costlier to provide safety instructions with candles, but our customers are worth it! Be wary of anyone selling beeswax candles that doesn’t take that added precaution because if they skip this safety step, what other steps are being skipped during the candle production process?

LOOK FOR EXPERIENCE

Now this is going to sound odd coming from a candle company founded in 2016, but it’s important to point this tip out because it makes a big difference in the quality of the beeswax candles you buy. Before we were Big Moon Beeswax, we were private label candle-makers for another beeswax company for several years. Before that, we were candle hobbyists for many years and are well past our learning curve years (and it takes YEARS to learn to make a candle that burns beautifully, as well as safely!)

As candle-makers, we are supportive of new candle-makers learning the craft and we wish them many happy years of learning the science of candle making. What is concerning is when a novice candle maker decides to make a few candles and then sell them at farmer’s markets or on the internet without many months, to years of learning the art of candle making. It is an art, but it’s more SCIENCE than art. There are hundreds of wicks to chose from and they greatly impact how that candle is going to burn for the customer. It is alarming and disheartening to see “how to make beeswax candles” posts and videos on the internet and they tell you to get some “string” or “a wick” and dip it in hot wax until you have a candle. Even on candle forums, an alarming amount of new candle makers are using wicks that they can’t identify and then they sell these candles at farmer’s markets or on the internet. An experienced candle maker has gone through more candle testing than anyone could imagine. You must test, test, and test some more before a candle can be considered reasonably safe to sell. It costs a lot in time and money to do all this testing, but again, our customers are worth it! An experienced candle maker will know everything about the candle they are making: what its rate of consumption is, flame height, melt pool and heat index, just to name a few. If they use fragrance and color additives, that adds another level of things to know. There should be zero guesswork about a candle by the time it is sold to the consumer.

SO HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY AN EXPERIENCED CANDLE MAKER?

About the best you can do is to look to see how long they have been in business. If they’ve been around for years, then they obviously are doing something right. What you won’t know is if the candle company has a high employee turnover rate. When Big Moon Beeswax worked as a private candle maker for another candle company, we were surprised to see that there was a constant turnover in volunteer candle-makers. Only one person that belonged to the candle company knew how to make candles and she was overseeing volunteers that came and went daily. The volunteers had zero to little candle making experience and it showed in the finished product. To their credit, this candle company would not sell the truly unacceptable candles, but they wasted so much wax, time and resources due to the high turnover and poor finished product. The company had been around for many years, but the candle-makers came and went too frequently to be good at what they were making. A candle consumer would not know something like that though so you can only look to see if the candle quality remains consistent or are some candles better than others? Were the items packed with care? 

LOOK FOR A CANDLE COMPANY WITH YEARS OF CONTINUANCE IN THE BUSINESS

Has a particular candle company been in business for a few years, shut down for a while and resurfaced again? This can happen when a candle maker doesn't have the financial resources to work continuously or have the time to make candles year-round, or the candles they sold got too many negative customer feedback and they had to start over. Regardless of the reason, a start and stop candle company shows instability from within and should be something to consider before buying from them.

The United States has a few beeswax candle companies that have been in business continuously for years with the same owners and the same production guidelines to keep the quality steady. Family-run companies are a bonus because every candle maker in the company is personally invested in the success of their company and the quality of their products. Big Moon Beeswax is a family-run company and each person brings their unique skill set to the candle-making table. We have two experienced candle crafters, a product developer, two artists and a ceramic artist. We take the best from each person’s skill set to create our unique designs and we care what people think of our finished products. We dreamed it and we brought it to life. We care about what we make because it’s not just a candle for sale, it’s a piece of our creativity and artistic expression. That’s true handcrafted artisans.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, residents are fortunate to have several experienced candle companies to choose from: Big Dipper Waxworks has been around for at least 20 years and is still helmed by the same owners. While Big Dipper Waxworks appears to be the largest of the Washington State beeswax candle companies, with the largest number of employees, the original owners are still part of daily production to ensure the quality of their products. Washington State also has smaller family-run candle-crafters too like Beehive Candles (in business since 2000), Farmer’s Daughter Mercantile since 2013 and Big Moon Beeswax since 2016 (that's only our branded company date, we've been making candles privately for years.)

Across the US, there’s Ymittos on the East Coast, one of the oldest continuous beeswax candle makers in the country. It took them over a hundred years, but they finally put up a web-page, even though it's not used as an online store, preferring to take orders over the phone instead. Root Candles has been burning brightly since the 1800's as well and has grown into a company that uses beeswax blends and added fragrances.  Bluecorn, in Colorado, is another experienced beeswax candle company being in business for 27 years. The Beeswax Candle Co in Texas is a family-run business and use tools handed down from their grandfather’s beekeeper days. There’s also Beeswax Candle Company in Virginia that has been in business since 2003. Toadily Handmade Candles have been making candles since 2006. These are just some of the experienced beeswax candle makers inside America's backyard. 

Listing these more established candle companies does not mean we can’t show new beeswax candle makers some love as we ALL had to start out at the beginning. Even the "newbees" need a chance, but just know that they are still going through a learning curve until many months, or several years, gives them the experience they need to make a candle that is not only beautiful to look at, but burns correctly. If you want to give a new candle maker a chance, just keep a more watchful eye on the burning candle than usual, as to make sure that each candle you burn from them is consistently safe.

Of course, the only way to truly find the best beeswax candles to buy are to try a small order from the candle companies that seem to interest you the most. Every person has their own preference as to what makes a great beeswax candle and you need to find your perfect match (is that a pun?) So as your budget will allow, try out different beeswax candle companies and see how you like them. You may find that you have a favorite pillar from one company and favorite tapers from another and a favorite votive from yet someone else. There are many quality beeswax candle makers out there, so whenever you need to buy more beeswax candles, give someone new a try until you’ve found the one that works for you.

Thanks for taking time to read this blog post and stay tuned for the next installment of How to Buy the Best Beeswax Candle. 

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2 Responses

Sue Richards
Sue Richards

October 17, 2018

If you buy a lot of beeswax like I do you learn early on to try out different brands because each one is different. You end up having favorites though.

Robin Clarke
Robin Clarke

October 03, 2018

Really appreciated your mentioning other beeswax candle sellers and not criticizing them like other candle stores do. It’s nice to get honest information! Thank you for putting us customers needs first instead of trying to sell us on one company!

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