The RAL Quality Mark certifies that the candle comes from a production facility with systematic quality control meeting the RAL Standard.
Kopschitz is one of the founder members of the European Quality Association for Candles. Candles manufactured to meet the standards of the Association are permitted to bear the relevant Logo as well as the text: ‘RAL Gütezeichen [RAL Mark of Quality]’.
Within the catalogue of criteria of this Quality Association it is specified that all raw and auxiliary materials used in production by member firms may have no properties that, through the intended use of the product, would pose a risk to the health of the user. The compliance to this rule is systematically monitored and is controlled by the inspection company ‘Dekra’ by means of test-sampling.
What does this mean to the consumer?
- The “Candle Quality Mark” guarantees a high standard of functionality and consistency. In normal circumstances the products bearing the mark burn in a regular manner and without dripping. The user can be certain that the candle will last for as long as it states on the packaging.
- Not only does the “Candle Quality Mark” mean that the finished product will look good. It also means that the form, the colouring, the measurements and the quality of the wick are both consistent and reliable.
- The mark certifies high standards of health and safety as well as environmental friendliness. Compatible products generate exceptionally little soot and smoke. They release no noticeable quantities of either Dioxins or PAH (polycyclical aromatic hydrocarbons). The manufacturers are prohibited from using any raw materials, dyes or paints that could pose damage to health. As such sulphur and heavy metal content is extremely low.
The quality and control system in detail:
A prerequisite for the awarding of the quality mark. The candles to be tested are taken directly from the production line. Burning time and behaviour are observed in detail. For example, the wick of a thin-form candle may only glow for a maximum of 15 seconds after it has been blown out. Raw materials are also closely examined: Sulphur and heavy-metal content may not exceed strict limits. For example the heavy-metal content must be notably under the limit set for children’s toys as defined by standard EN 71. Tea-lights and “grave-candles” must fulfil special requirements for their intended use. The original inspection is carried out by Dekra, one of the most respected testing and inspection companies in Germany.
This assures a consistent and reliable quality. The manufacturer must continually control their products. Regular burn-tests are carried out to the same stringent criteria as in the original inspection. Production candles must be just as low in soot and smoke, must drip as little and must be as environmentally-friendly as the originally tested samples. Detailed records of the tests and results must be made and archived.
At least once a year the manufacturing site will undergo a control inspection by a neutral assessor. They verify the documentation of the self-assessments and review the results in detail. Additionally samples will be taken again from the production-line and submitted to Dekra for off-site inspection. Any infringements of the test requirements can result in the “Candle Quality Mark” being rescinded.
Further information on the Quality Mark can be found at: www.kerzenguete.com
A candle consists of two component parts:
The wick & a flammable solid substance
The braided-cotton wick transports the fuel to the combustion zone. The type of wick varies according to the type of candle, its diameter, its means of production and its fuel. Wicks vary in their absorbency, in the type of thread and its thickness as well as in the chemical preparation.
In Germany and its neighbouring countries, over 80% of candles are made from paraffin.
Paraffin is a by-product from the refining of lubricating oil. More economical than bee-wax it is very easy to work with and delivers a very high burn-quality. As such it is the most favoured raw-material in candle production.
Beeswax candles account for approximately 0.5% of all candles made in Germany. Beeswax is a high-quality, natural product that is obtained from honeycomb as a by-product of honey-making. Beeswax is more challenging to work with due to its high-viscosity. Dipping and powder-press production methods are not appropriate to the substance. As it is relatively sticky, it is better suited to hand-made manufacture or to be mixed with paraffin (e.g. 10% Beeswax candles). Burn-quality is less good than that of paraffin or stearin. The finished candles have an attractive natural colouring and a faint smell of honey.
Although it is more prevalent as a candle-fuel in some other countries, for example Norway and Sweden, stearin candles take approximately 20% of the German market-share. Stearin is most commonly used in the manufacture of taper candles - either from pure stearin or up to 25% in a mix with paraffin. Stearin mostly consists of vegetable fatty acid.
Pressing, Dipping, Casting
All these methods of production can create a very good quality candle. Decisive in the final quality is the optimal balance of all of the factors of influence i.e. the type of wax, the dipping mass, the wick and the method itself.
Pressing allows for the efficient production of large quantities. Pillar candles, for example, are pressed from paraffin powder.
A hundreds of meters long strand of wick is wrapped multiple times around two large drums set a few meters apart. The drums turn and draw the wick through a wax bath increasing the thickness of the candle with each dip.
Hot wax is poured into a mould. This method is particularly suited to special or non-standard shapes of candle that can’t be made by pressing or dipping.
The pressed, dipped or cast candles can now be further decorated. For example, raw candles could be given a coloured coating. The dipping mass is dyed with UV-resistant pigment. In this way the colours don’t fade and keep their decorative character for longer. The colour-coating is made from a wax that melts at a higher temperature than the candle core. This leads to the formation of a burning-pool around the wick and helps prevent dripping.
Clear or coloured paints can lend the wax an atypical brilliant or glossy finish.
The candles may also be decorated with silk-screen pictures or appliqués.
Looking after your candles
… so you can enjoy them for longer.
- Don’t set candles too close to one another.
- Avoid draughts. These cause the candle to burn irregularly or asymmetrically.
- If the flame gives off sooty smoke then trim the wick with a pair of scissors.
- Extinguish the candle by dipping the wick briefly into the surrounding molten wax.
- Try not to break the burnt wick when relighting the candle.
- If the wick is too short, trim around the head of the candle with a knife.
If you put out the flame by dipping the wick briefly in the surrounding molten wax and straightening it again directly afterwards then it will not give off smoke. It will also be easier to light the next time.
The ideal wick-length is approximately 10-15mm. A longer wick will give of sooty smoke – in this case shorten the wick carefully with a pair of scissors (or indeed with a wick-trimmer). If the flame is withering then the wick is too short. You can put the flame out and carefully tip out some of the molten wax.
Candles don’t like draughts. Draughts disturb a tidy burn. The candle will give off sooty smoke and may start to drip and to burn-off on one side.
Do not leave candles or open flames unattended.
Ensure the candles are standing properly
Candles should be set firmly and safely (for example in a stand or a bowl) so that they cannot topple over while alight. The holder should be heat-proof and non-flammable.
Do not set candles too close together - either next to, or over one another.
Keep the candle holder or plate free from used-matches, bits of wick and other impurities.
Children & Pets
Lit candles should be kept out of the reach of children and pets.
Do not place lit candles near to or on flammable material.
Do not place candles near to sources of heat.
If the candle is burning unevenly to one side you can carefully bend the burning wick to the other side. Do not bend a cold wick.
A lit candle may give off small amounts of sooty smoke. If the smoke becomes very noticeable then either stop the draught or put out the candle and trim the wick.
Thick candles should be kept alight at least until the whole surface has turned to liquid. Otherwise the candle will hollow out and can stifle the flame.
Try not to damage the candle wall or the liquid wax will flow out. If you are left with a high wall then cut it down while the candle is still warm.
The wick is so constructed that while alight it will bend toward the edge of the flame where the tip of the wick will best burn up. When lighting a new candle you can carefully set the wick straight.
Dripped wax can generally be easily lifted or scratched off. If this doesn’t work you can remove wax from material by placing some absorbent paper (e.g. blotting paper) over the wax and passing over the spot with a hot iron so that the paper sucks up the melting wax. If the wax spot is on a hard surface you can liquefy it with a hair-dryer and then mop it up with the absorbent paper.
The history of the candle
It is estimated that the candle was invented at least 3,000 years ago. It is known at least that “candles” were in use in the middle-east at this time. They had however little in common with candles as we know them today. They were made from straw, hemp or reed dipped in fat or resin.
It was much later that beeswax was discovered as a fuel for burning. The oldest wax candle in existence came from the 1st century A.D. It is today kept in the town of Vaison-la-Romaine in Provence.
In the middle-ages wax was so expensive that, like sable skins or linseed, it was accepted as a means of payment. Only the church and the nobles could afford this luxurious source of light. Commoners made do with resinous (and very smokey) pinewood chippings.
It was only at the time of the great industrialisation towards the end of the 18th Century that the hitherto luxury item, the candle, became affordable to all.
Eugène Chevreul, a French professor of chemistry applied for a patent in 1824 for the manufacture of candles from stearin – a waxy mixture derived from palmitic and stearic fatty acids. He followed this in 1825 with an additional patent for a braided and chemically preserved wick. This was the birth of the candle in its modern-day form.