Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions? We've got answers! And if we don't, then we'll try our best to find them for you.

What kind of wax do you use? 

We start with a natural, eco-friendly soy wax that is produced from 100% American-grown soybeans and is FDA approved and Kosher certified. To that, we add a proprietary blend of food-grade paraffin and vegetable wax, keeping the formula 100% vegan and cruelty-free. The end result is our own custom soy wax blend, specifically designed for strength of fragrance, longevity of the candle, and purity of burn.

Which of your candles are 100% soy wax?

We produce a line of unscented, 100% soy wax candles that are currently used as table candles in a local Houston restaurant. However, our scented candles are a majority soy blend. 

Why don't you use 100% soy wax in your scented candles?

We did in the beginning, but we quickly realized that the performance of our 100% soy candles did not match our expectations. Soy candles have a wonderfully strong "cold throw" (how fragrant a candle is when unlit). However, they tend to have a weaker "hot throw" (how fragrant a candle is when lit) than a soy wax blend. We desired to produce a candle with both a fabulous cold throw and hot throw. Through testing different waxes and formulating our own custom blend of soy and paraffin waxes, we believe we have achieved that.

Are candles made with petroleum-based (paraffin) wax safe?

According to the National Candle Association (NCA), validated scientific studies have shown that all major candle waxes exhibit the same basic burn behavior and produce virtually identical combustion byproducts, both in terms of composition and amount. To date, no peer-reviewed scientific study has ever collected or analyzed any emissions data on any candle wax, including petroleum-based paraffin, and proven them to be harmful to human health.

Where do you get your fragrance oils?

When we select fragrances for our candles, we get pretty passionate about the strength and character of the fragrances we introduce to our collections, and we get equally (if not more so) passionate about the safety of the fragrances we put into our candles and people's homes. For that reason, we procure fragrances from American companies that maintain strict compliance with all fragrance industry regulations and that strive to not only meet but exceed industry standards across America, Canada, and Europe. Our fragrance oils are a unique and complex blend of scents, many of which are a result of being infused with natural essential oils.

Are fragrance oils and essential oils the same things?

Fragrance oils and essential oils are not the same. Essential oils are pure liquids containing aroma compounds that are removed from the seeds, flowers, leaves, roots, and stems or bark of plants through methods such as distillation, expression, or extraction. These oils carry the distinctive essence, or scent, of the plant from which it was made, and they are frequently used in perfumes, flavorings, and medicines.

However, not everything in nature produces an essential oil. Fragrance oils are synthetic and are created with a mix of aroma chemicals as well as natural ingredients like essential oils, extracts, and resins.

Do you use essential oils in your candles?

Many of our candles are made with fragrance oils that have been infused with natural essential oils. However, essential oils are not available for every scent we would like to offer. Therefore, we utilize fragrance oils which draw on synthetic aroma chemicals and other natural ingredients when no essential oil is available.

We choose not to offer 100% essential oil candles even when the oil is available because burning an essential oil changes its properties. At best, the candle would smell nice before lit and have very little scent once lit. At worst, the otherwise beneficial properties of the essential oils would deteriorate and emit a fuel-like smell that could be harmful to pets and people. 

 

Are scented candles safe?

According to the NCA, consumers can be confident that a well-made and properly burned candle, whether scented or unscented, will burn cleanly and safely. Although there are no known health hazards associated with the use of scented candles, unfounded concerns about the safety of man-made fragrances vs. “natural” fragrance materials and essential oils continue to populate the media. The fragrances approved for candle usage – whether synthesized or “natural” – do not release toxic chemicals.

How much fragrance oil do you use?

There is a maximum amount of fragrance that can be added to a candle before it no longer burns cleanly, properly, or safely. To achieve our superior fragrance strength, Upper Room Candles uses a premium amount of fragrance oil. The amount of fragrance oil we use in our candles is based on the particular oil components, the wick type, and chosen vessel. We do a great deal of testing for each different oil, wick, and vessel combination to ensure each candle meets our standard of excellence. Fragrance oil is not one-size-fits-all, and if we treated it as such, then we could not call our candles premium handcrafted candles. 

Are your candles all natural?

Although our candles are crafted with some of the finest natural materials and ingredients available, we do not label our candles as "all natural." The only way to scent candles naturally is with pure essential oils. However, for safety and performance purposes, we do not create candles from 100% essential oils. At best, the candle would smell nice before lit and have very little scent once lit. At worst, the otherwise beneficial properties of the essential oils would deteriorate and emit a fuel-like smell that could be harmful to pets and people. We choose to craft candles with fragrance oils that adhere to the strict Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) standard regarding safety. Our fragrances are non-toxic when used for their intended purpose in candle-making.

What sort of chemical reaction occurs when a candle burns?

When you light a candle, the heat of the flame melts the wax near the wick. This melted or liquid wax is then drawn up into the wick by capillary action. As explained by the NCA, the flame’s heat vaporizes the liquid wax to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide (the same byproducts that humans produce when exhaling).

Are scented candles triggers for asthma or allergies?

According to the NCA, millions of Americans regularly use scented candles without any negative effects; however, it is always possible that a particular fragrance might trigger a negative reaction in sensitive individuals. Individuals with known sensitivities to specific fragrances may want to avoid candles of those scents. In addition, consumers should remember to burn all candles, whether scented or unscented, in a well-ventilated area.

Do scented candles produce more soot than unscented candles?

Depending on the specific composition of some fragrance oils, there may be a slight increase in the small amount of soot produced by a candle. However, wick length and flame disturbance are the primary factors that impact sooting in a properly-formulated and quality-handcrafted candle.

What causes a candle to smoke?

According to the NCA, a well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. Contrary to popular belief, candles do not soot because of the wax type, fragrance, colorants, or additives used in the candle’s formulation, but sooting is primarily due to flame and combustion disturbances. If the wick becomes too long or an air current disturbs the flame’s teardrop shape, small amounts of unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame as a visible wisp of smoke. Any candle will soot if the flame is disturbed.

Is candle soot harmful?

No. The minuscule amount of soot produced by a candle is the natural byproduct of incomplete combustion. Per the NCA, candle soot is composed primarily of elemental carbon particles, and is similar to the soot given off by kitchen toasters and cooking oils. These everyday household sources of soot are not considered a health concern, and are chemically different from the soot formed by the burning of diesel fuel, coal, gasoline, etc. 

How can I minimize sooting?

No one wants to see black smoke billowing from their candle or a black ring forming along the rim of the candle container. Although ever candle has the potential to soot, you can minimize the amount of soot your candle produces by following a few simple instructions: Trim the wick to ¼ inch before every use to promote proper flame height, place the candle away from drafty areas to avoid flame flickering, ensure that the wax pool is free of debris, and extinguish the flame by blowing it out rather than capping the candle.

Are your candles vegan?

Although we can say that our candle making process is 100% vegan, we acknowledge that we are not the starting point in any one area of our materials. We strive to source our products from companies that observe strict, ethical practices. Nonetheless, from the glass to the wicks, the wax, the wick holders, the wick stickers, the labels, and the shipping materials, many different companies and ingredients go into the making and distributing of one candle. We cannot speak to their entire process, only ours.

Why are some candles slightly different in color?

Our candles are free of any added or artificial dyes. You may notice that different scents vary in appearance with differences in their shades of wax, ranging from milky white to creamy ivory to a pale canary or even a powdery rose. This is due to the natural properties of each fragrance oil. 

Why is my candle changing color?

Due to the fact that Upper Room Candles contain no added or artificial dyes, nor do they contain any added chemical color-lock preservatives, some oils may react to differences in light, sunlight, and temperature. Oils containing vanillin, for instance, will turn yellow in direct sunlight and may even begin to yellow in certain indoor lighting. The change in color, however, does not affect the scent throw or candle performance.

Do your candles contain Phthalates?

Phthalates, or phthalate esters, are esters of Phthalic acid. They are used to dissolve raw materials when making fragrance oils and have been used for many decades in a myriad of pharmaceuticals, household, and industrial products. Recently, there have been concerns that high levels of Phthalates can cause a host of health issues. It is not clear whether the levels that people encounter cause adverse effects, but it is clear to us that products would be better if they didn’t pose any such risks.

While both the U.S. and Europe have imposed laws against Phthalates in children’s toys, (since they are put in the mouth) there are no rules against Phthalates in candles. Nevertheless, Upper Room Candle has opted not to use any fragrance oils containing Phthalates.

Do your wicks contain any metals?

No. Lead wicks have been officially banned in the United States since 2003, and before then, they were primarily limited to inexpensive imported candles (per the NCA). Metal-core wicks are approved for use in the United States and are sometimes used in container candles and votives to keep the wick upright when the surrounding wax liquefies during burning. Today's metal-core wicks are made with either zinc or tin and are sometimes identifiable by looking at the top of the wick and seeing a black dot in the center/core. Upper Room Candles has voluntarily chosen not to use any wicks containing metals. Our wicks are 100% cotton.

Do your wood wicks crackle?

Our wood wicks create a multi-sensory experience, both auditory and olfactory. They are made of two identical pieces of wood pressed together to create a unique "flowering" effect as they burn. They crackle and blossom as wax is pulled upward between the layers of wood like the stem of a flower, releasing its fragrance throughout the room. Not only do our wood wicks perform beautifully, they are environmentally friendly. The wood is 100% American sourced and manufactured in mills that maintain a Forest Stewardship Council certification and practice environmentally friendly forestry standards. Since wood wicks are natural, the difference in wood grain from one wick to the next may cause a difference in burning characteristics. 

When should I trim my candle's wick?

A properly trimmed wick is crucial to the performance of the candle. Prior to each lighting of a candle, wicks should be trimmed. For cotton wicks, trim to at least 1/4 inch before each lighting. Although candles should never be placed under a ceiling fan or in a drafty area, if they are, then the wicks will flicker, the candle will likely soot, and the wicks will probably need to be trimmed back during the burn period. 

Do not trim the wicks while the candle is still lit.Blow out the candle; trim the wicks; and then relight.

How do you trim wood wicks?

After the initial burn, trim wood wicks before each relighting. You may use a paper towel and pinch off the black top, or cut the black off with a wick trimmer or toenail clippers. 

Wood wicks tend to soot more than a cotton wick simply due to the nature of the wick. It is wood, and it is on fire. However, close tending to the wick can greatly reduce the sooting and assure optimal candle/wick performance. 

Wood wicks may require more frequent trimming as the candle burns down into the vessel. You may also find the need to trim the wick multiple times during a single burn period. Wood wicks are an investment in time and require more care, but they offer a wonderfully, relaxing return in their beautiful crackle.

Why does my wick have a mushroom shape after burning?

Regardless of the type of wick used, 100% cotton and wood included, lighting it on fire will produce carbon build-up and turn the wick black. Wick choice still matters because some wicks produce more carbon than others. This carbon deposit looks like a black mushroom on the end of the wick. It is the prime factor in producing the black soot that billows into the air and accumulates on the inside of the vessel.

Mushrooms are normal and are not necessarily bad. If they are large enough to create black smoke, then trim them. If they are not creating smoke, then let them burn and trim them before the next lighting.

Why is it not recommended to burn the candle over four hours?

The longer a candle burns, the more carbon builds up on the wick (the bigger the mushroom you get). Once a candle reaches a full melt pool, it has released the full amount and power of its fragrance. The flame can be extinguished, and the fragrance will continue to emanate from the vessel (as it would if it were a fragrant wax melt) for a while longer. Depending on the strength of the oil--each has its own unique properties and potency--the scent can linger for 24 hours.

Why is there such a large range in approximate burn times?

Even candles of the same size and with the same wick and vessel will vary in burn times. Through our own testing, we have found an approximate range of burn times that encompass all our many fragrances, regardless of the many factors that play into burn time. 

One of the factors is the fragrance oil. Some oils are "heavier," containing notes of vanilla, smoke, or spice. These oils tend to take longer to reach a full melt pool with each lighting and burn more slowly. Some oils are "lighter," containing notes of citrus, light florals, and berries. These oils tend to reach a full melt pool more quickly and burn hotter as the candle burns down further in the vessel.

Other factors include wick length, candle placement, and general candle care. Properly trimming the wicks will prolong the life of the candle and allow you to get more burn time. Long wicks produce high flames and high heat. This will melt the candle too quickly and reduce its lifespan. Placing a candle in a draft will cause the flames to flicker and dance. This may result in an uneven burn and reduce the life of the candle. Taking care to allow the candle to reach full melt pool on the first burn will prevent tunneling, which significantly reduces the life of the candle. Keeping the candle free of debris will ensure the wick does not clog and weaken the flame. 

What is candle memory?

It is said that candles have memories. Therefore, the first burn is the most important burn and can have a lasting effect (good or bad) on the remainder of your entire candle. You need to make sure that your candle achieves a full melt pool (aka "pools out") on the first burn. A full melt pool (FMP) is when a candle completely melts all the way across the top of the candle. If the candle does not have time to reach an FMP on the first burn, the candle is likely to tunnel the remainder of the way down, meaning that the wick will burn down the center leaving a wall of wax around the candle. Many wicks will not even reach the bottom when tunneling occurs because the wax will drown them out first.

How long should it take a candle to reach a full melt pool?

The rule of thumb is one inch per hour. So a candle that is 3 inches in diameter should take approximately 3 hours to pool out. A candle that is 2 inches in diameter should take about 2 hours. This is not an exact time frame since other factors contribute to it (i.e., candle placement, room temperature, wax type, fragrance oil, wick type and length, and whether the wax is still near the top of the vessel or has neared the bottom).

How can I get the best burn and longest life out of my candle?

1. Make sure the first burn allows your candle time to reach a full melt pool. (Probably THE most important factor since it sets the tone for the duration of the candle's life.)

2. Properly trim the wicks. (Wood wicks will require more attention than cotton wicks.)

3. Keep candle out of drafts. (This will significantly reduce sooting.)