Do you light candles at home? Even among those who answer “yes”, most of you must be using Western candles. There are two kinds of candles; one is Western candles, and another is Japanese candles. There are many types of wax as well. The way a candle burns varies depending on the type of ingredients. In this article, we introduce types of wax widely available today as products. ■Paraffin wax
The most popular candle wax today is paraffin wax. Paraffin is wax obtained by distillation from petroleum and was discovered in the mid-19th century. The discovery of paraffin was revolutionary, and it turned candles from being valuables to mass-produced popular products. For it is made from petroleum, there is a particular smell when blowing off the candle. ■Stearic Acid Wax
Stearic acid wax is a type of fatty acid made from beef tallow oil and palm oil; it is mainly added to paraffin wax to make a candle. There do exist candles made with 100% stearic acid wax, however it is not very usual (for there are not many advantages in making them). When added to paraffin, it contributes to less bubbles, brighter dye colors and hardness. It is the must-have wax if you are making a paraffin candle. ■Beeswax
Beeswax is produced by bees (bees’ abdomen). It is animal-based wax which is a part of bees’ comb and is excreted by honeybees’ combs. It has stickiness, the color varies from yellow to brown, and has a naturally sweet fragrance when lit up. The color and the fragrance vary depending on flowers or plants which the bees are feeding on. It takes time and effort to gather beeswax, and honey candles made 100% from beeswax have always been valued highly. It can be used even in a smaller room for it is made from natural ingredients, and there is no unpleasant smell when blowing off a candle. ■Japan wax (vegetable wax) / Japanese candles
Japanese candles made in Japan since the Edo period are from japan wax (vegetable wax made from sumac wax and lacquer sap). Japan wax also takes time and effort to gather, and it is increasingly harder to obtain; that is why pure japan wax candles are expensive. ■Palm wax
Palm wax made from palm oil, which is extracted from oil palm fruits, produces less soot compared to paraffin wax and has a longer burning time. The surface of high-purity wax is crystalized. ■Soy wax
Plant-based wax made from soy beans. It has a longer burning time for it burns slowly at a low temperature and is the ideal wax for aroma candles. Compared to paraffin made from petroleum which is a limited resource or palm wax made from oil palm which the expansion of plantations is regarded as a social issue, it is getting increasingly popular these days as a nature-friendly candle. (Other than beeswax) wax itself does not have color or fragrance; that is why paints, dyes and perfume are added to make candles in most cases. Also, even the same kind of wax is used, the burning times varies according to the distillation process. For example, finely distilled paraffin wax does not produce much soot. In other words, if a candle produces a lot of soot when burning, it means it is made with low-quality wax and a candle wick, or that an unappropriated balance of paints or perfume is added. We should look closely at the way a candle burns when using one! Plant-based Japanese candles produce less soot and does not stain a room when used; this is one of the attractive points. Even if the room gets stained, you can easily wipe it off, too. The fact that cleaning is easy is one of the reasons why it is suited as interior decoration as well. Japanese candles sold at Japanese Kimono Online Shop are plant-based candles and every one of them is handmade with the traditional technique inherited in Kyoto; it is environment-friendly and easy to use.
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