OK so what’s the point of buying a handmade and hand-poured soy wax candle from a chandler like me (yes, a candle maker is called a “chandler” I found out the other day, which is inconvenient because he’s my least favourite of the Friends characters, which is my favourite show… anyway…) when you can go to just about any retail shop on the planet and buy a candle that will do largely the same thing.
Well firstly let me point out that no, not just any other candle will do the same thing as a handmade, hand-poured soy wax candle from someone who actually gives a damn about what they do! I’m in the process of putting together some videos to show you how much effort I put in to each and every candle I make and trust me there is a lot to it – far more than meets the nose.
For a start, the amount of aroma added to each candle is an incredibly important factor in creating a quality candle. Too little fragrance and you’ll be wondering “what’s the point of even lighting it?” but too much fragrance and you’ll regret lighting it up at all. So knowing exactly how much fragrance is needed is a critically important skill and isn’t a matter of just following guidelines or looking at a chart – it’s also an art and depends on the type of wax being used and other factors not the least of which is experience through trial and error.
Another factor that candle makers strive to educate people about and a factor that separates truly remarkable candles from average, run-of-the-mill candles and downright cheap ones is what type of wax is used? Don’t be fooled by the labels either. I have, on countless occasions, relied on a label that says “soy wax” only to find out that it is in fact a soy wax / paraffin wax blend! When more people find out about this scandalous false labelling I’m sure consumers will put these deceptive brands out of business. The gold standard for candles using the word ‘soy’ is ‘100% soy wax’, meaning that it is made out of nothing but soy wax – which will produce a superior aroma and remove the health question marks associated with burning paraffin wax.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll get a kick out of buying something that you know is actually handmade to the greatest extent possible (short of making the jar and wick I suppose – and good on those candle makers who do this!). There’s something about knowing that what you have bought has been carefully crafted when its alternatives were simply run off a factory production line that has no soul. Such handmade candles are also unique, which is what I love. When I burn a hand-made candle from another candle maker or use any other handmade product for that matter, I can’t help but think about that dedicated craftsperson slaving away just so I can enjoy this particular moment.
I have also found that in the case of candle makers, we are far less tempted to cheat by using false terms such as ‘soy wax’ when in fact the candle is a blend of paraffin wax and soy wax, because we actually pride ourselves on the product we produce and aren’t so concerned with small savings that might be made by diluting the quality of the product simply to increase profit and pay for a layer of staff for example. I would much prefer to maintain my reputation of producing high quality candles than jeopardise everything to save a few dollars. It’s my personal reputation I would be jeopardising after all… not just a company name.
Some people like buying hand-made because they know they are supporting small business or Australian-made, but in my case perhaps selfishly this isn’t why I buy hand-made. I actually prefer quality and I have found again and again that quality is the realm of the craftspeople, not the big companies, in nearly every example. Would you prefer to have an Italian pizza made by a small local Italian restaurant or a multi-national pizza chain? I rest my case.