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Archive for the ‘Beeswax Candles & Candle Making’ Category

Queen B for Dinosaur Designs by Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy beeswax candle range

You know when you’ve wanted something for so long and when it happens you kind of have to pinch yourself?

When you’ve had your head down and your bum up for a decade and you lift your head and think ‘wow, I didn’t realise how far I’d travelled’?

How when you meet someone you’ve admired from afar you’re meant to play it really cool?

Well, this is all those things for me (apart from the fact that I’m not playing it really cool)!  I’ve admired Dinosaur Designs from afar for going on 20 years.  My sisters (who I admire) have always loved, and worn, their jewellery and bought their homewares.  I have always loved their designs and that they were Australian made.  And with 28 years under their belt hand making their wares in Australia, I admire their longevity, their ability to keep being creative and for their rolodex of friends.  Friends say a lot about a person and they seem to be surrounded by similarly passionate, intelligent, successful, beautiful (on the inside) people.

This is one of those ‘woo, woo’ stories!  Over Christmas when we shut for a few weeks, I always take some time to reflect on Queen B, and this past Christmas I reflected on the fact that the things that I have enjoyed most in the past decade have been our collaborations – Joost, Vue de Monde, Grandiflora, Bollinger, Swarovski, Dior, Penfolds, Cartier, World Wildlife Fund (Earth Hour)… there have been many, and they are the ultimate 1 + 1 = 3 testament.  I put 2 names on my list of people that I wanted to collaborate with:  Dinosaur Designs and Signature Prints (who make all the Florence Broadhurst fabrics and wallpapers… again, right here in Australia… and again, recognised globally).  And here’s the ‘woo, woo’ bit… not 48 hours back in the country I received an email from Dinosaur Designs wanting to meet.  Woo, woo – yay and woo, woo – thank you universe.

So, I’m not playing it cool, I’m stoked!  I’m excited that some of the greatest design talent in Australia has chosen to work with the best that nature has to offer (beeswax) and with this humble little business that we know as Queen B and together we’ve created something extra-ordinary.  We’re not necessarily an easy business to work with!  I won’t add colour to the beeswax (because then you’re combusting a dye… which creates emissions).  I won’t add fragrance to the beeswax (and we lose a lot of jobs because of this) because then you’re combusting an oil… which creates emissions.  I won’t use toxic inks (which means we can’t match PMS colours)!  There’s a list of things and many companies have walked away because they want scented, coloured candles.  You know you’re dealing with the company with both ethics and substance when they take that list and create something beautiful that worships nature.

OK, so I’m not being ‘cool’ at all!!

So, here they are.  They are very limited edition and you can find them at Dinosaur Designs 7 stores (including New York), at Dinosaur Designs online (where you can also pick up some of the beautiful homewares that inspired the design) or at Queen B’s hive or Queen B online.

Available in 3 different sizes and 2 different designs, with the extraordinary long burn times that you’ve come to know and love about Queen B’s pure beeswax pillar candles.  With iconic Dinosaur Designs applied to the pure beeswax wraps, they’re a beautiful and functional piece of art.:

pure beeswax hand-rolled pillar candles by Queen B for Dinosaur Designs

Queen B for Dinosaur Designs pure beeswax candle range

 

Totem
Small Beeswax Pillar Candle (50 hour burn time)
Medium Beeswax Pillar Candle  (90 hour burn time)
Large Beeswax Pillar Candle (200 hour burn time)

Boulders
Small Beeswax Pillar Candle (50 hour burn time)
Medium Beeswax Pillar Candle (90 hour burn time)
Large Beeswax Pillar Candle (200 hour burn time)

 

 

Here are a few other beautiful shots

Louise Olsen & Stephen Ormandy of Dinosaur Designs pure beeswax candles by Queen B

From Louise Olsen’s Instagram feed

 

Beeswax hand rolled pillar candle by Queen B for Dinosaur Designs

Our pure beeswax pillar candles burn down inside their individually painted wraps

 

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I’m thinking that it’s pretty tragic that it took a candle order to get me to go to the opera, but there it is… My life is quite tragic in many ways (and deliciously fabulous in others :-)). All I can say is that I regret not going sooner.  Last night we went to see Opera Australia’s production of Tosca and it was extra-ordinary.

Let me start at the beginning… see if you can guess whether Tilly was excited or not?  Sydney Ferries provided limousine transfer door to door.

Sydney Ferry limousine to Opera House to see Tosca candlelit by pure beeswax candles from Queen B

Why is it that the best photographs are never in focus?!

We had a beautiful dinner by the harbour… and then on to the opera!

I have to admit up front that while I was very excited to be seeing our candles lighting up Tosca, I was a little less sure about whether I would actually enjoy a whole opera.  Sure, I love the operatic aria’s.  Sure, we listen to classical music at the hive.  But I wasn’t sure about 3 hours of opera.  I’m happy to say I was wrong.  I loved it.  So did Tilly.   Not only was it an auditory feast, but it was a visual feast.  The set was astonishing.  And I think I appreciated it all the more because I’d been to Opera Australia HQ and been given a quick tour through the carpentry department, metal working department, fibre glass department, costume design, sewing, painting, decorating etc etc and is was just so gratifying to see that it is all being done locally.  We may be shipping in entire buildings in shipping containers from overseas, but Opera Australia are building incredible sets in Australia.  GOOD. ON. YOU. OPERA. AUSTRALIA.  I am tempted to go to more opera’s on the basis that I’ll be supporting those jobs.  I’ll be the one in the loges with the ‘partially obscured view’… and I’ll be loving every second of that partial view! Opera Australia run a behind the scenes tour on Wednesday’s for $15 (that’s a bargain).  You can find more information on their website.

Whilst it was an obvious highlight to see our candles lighting up the production, it was also a little bit distracting for this tragic soul!  I think I missed about 50% of the surtitles in the first act because I was checking to see that the candles weren’t dripping in the cross breezes on stage…

and then noticing how slowly they were burning and calculating that at that rate of burning they would be lasting Opera Australia for around the next decade of productions of Tosca…

and watching to make sure that despite their extraordinary length they were upright…

and trying to pick out the fake candles (yes, there are some of those too)!…

and then checking to see that Tilly was also enjoying it!!

Phew!  It was exhausting.  And I’m happy to report that they didn’t appear to drip, that they were upright, that you could tell a real candle from a fake and that Tilly enjoyed himself!

Acts 2 and 3 were a little more disappointing relaxing because there were no Queen B candles burning.

 

Opera Australia's Tosca candlelit by Queen B's pure beeswax pillar candles

Look at those beautiful beeswax candles and the magnificent set they built around them

 

Beeswax candles for Tosca by Queen B

Opera Australia’s TOSCA. Candles by Queen B. Photo by Prudence Upton

I’m thinking that the Australian Ballet may need to commission us next.  I’m dying to see a ballet.

The ticket that I bought for Tosca (and gave away on Facebook) in the loges was $67.50 (+booking fee) which really in the general scheme of how incredible the production was, the talent, the set (and those candles) makes it an affordable investment in the Australian arts, your own edification and a great night out.

We’re giving away 2 Tosca pillars in a competition in the next Opera Australia newsletter, so head on over to the website and register for the newsletter and be in the running to win.

Still glowing…

Cate

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About a week ago I received an email from a customer who wasn’t happy because our tapers were dripping.  [I could go into how gutted I was at this stage but as that would make me relive it, let's spare us both :-)].  Her email went like this (this is the full email and pasted in full because it’s quite a lovely way to write a complaint):

Hi Cate,

I absolutely love your candles, thank you! I’m hoping you can help me with the dinner sticks I have a box of. They look great on my table, however I find I’ve stopped using them because I can’t stop them from dripping onto the table.  Any tips to make them dripless? I trim the wicks regularly.  I’m hoping there’s a solution so I can start using them again as they burn so beautifully.

Thanks so much,

K

What a sweetheart.  Moment to reflect on how lucky we are to have customers who are beautiful on the inside (and out).

I responded and again I am putting in the full email because it has good tips for anyone burning taper candles:

Hi Kay,

Thank you so much for your email… it is only if a customer raises a concern that I get the opportunity to fix it.

I burn the tapers myself every evening.  Have done for years.  So I know from first hand experience that they are dripless when they are burned in a draft free environment.  If they are dripping, then there must be a draft… be that from open windows, air conditioning, central heating, fans or simply a drafty house.  I would try moving one to a spot that you know is draft free and burning it there.  That won’t help you with having them burning on your table, but at least it will convince you that they are genuinely drip free when burned in a draft free environment!

In terms of then coming up with a solution for your table, well, if there is air movement in that area, then you are never going to get a taper (dinner stick) that doesn’t drip.  Unfortunately because they are so narrow, there is little room to play with choosing a wick.  So, in that case, I’d suggest either trying the Bee Lights (although they tend to drip in a breeze too for exactly the same reason) OR I would try the solid pillars… which are also great bang for your buck.  The 15cm Solid Pillar and 20cm Solid Pillar are a great simple candle that you can simply sit on the table or on a ceramic holder or a tile or something else.  They are good for burning for anything over an hour at a time.  The Squat Pillar is good for burning over 2 hours at a time.

I hope that helps.

Please keep me posted with how you go burning the tapers in a place where there is no breeze.  In order to determine if there is a breeze, simply watch the flame… if the flame is “dancing” then there is a breeze.  If the flame is still, it will burn perfectly top to bottom without a drip.  Promise.

Warmest everything

Cate

And here’s the cruncher, because we actually get to close the loop on this one.  ‘K’ wrote back to me this morning with an update (which made my day because when I know that we have an unhappy customer I genuinely lose sleep over it).  Again, in full, it read:

Hi Cate,

You’re absolutely right, thank you! I’ve tried burning them in a different spot and they’re beautifully dripless!  It’s a bit silly I didn’t think of that, sorry.  I was burning them on our kitchen table, which is surrounded by windows and a door. They look amazing there, but sadly that spot doesn’t work due to airflow.  I have your pillars already, which I’ve put there instead. 

Thanks very much, Cate. I’ll be in to purchase more soon, I’m sure!

K

 It seems to be a week of posting tips for beeswax candle use and better burning!  What I learned from my last post is that that’s pretty useful for lots of people.  I also thought it might be interesting to share just a small selection of the photographs from when I did the wick testing for our tapers… and wow, the memories it brought back.  There are no duplicates in this image (created with the help of iPhoto and my very limited photoshop skills!).

beeswax dinner taper candle cotton wick test

Wick testing images for beeswax dinner taper candles

Sometimes my mind makes me giggle… as I was creating the image above, I had the following playing in my mind… you can tell a lot about a (wo)man by his hands too!:

and the classic

 

and this from a woman who doesn’t really drink beer!

Cate xx

PS While we’re at it, if you have any issues with burning your Queen B candles or tips, please let me know by commenting below, commenting on facebook or emailing me.

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In the midst of the madness that was last week I received an email from a customer that actually made me laugh out loud.  I was laughing at myself and my own stupidity and the genius of someone who looks at a problem with a fresh set of eyes.  Barbara wrote to me with a tip on how she was cleaning her clear tealight cups for reuse.  Her email read as follows:

“Dear Cate aka Queen B

Enjoying your candles so much both at home and in my Yoga classes, particularly good for Yoga Therapy sessions when healing is the focus

I might have missed this on your site but initially I used to make a big mess with boiling water and paper towels to clean and recycle my clear cups. Then on one of our cold winter Melbourne mornings I noticed the wax remnants just dropped out – so now all the finished cups go into the freezer for a few hours/overnight, are gently squeezed, tapped and out pops the remnants and the little wick disk

Many thanks for the healing, light and love Queen B and court provides

Barbara”

Apart from her lovely feedback (which warms our cockles in a building that doesn’t get much over 8 degrees celcius throughout winter) I had to laugh because I’m a ‘boiling water’ cup cleaner.  I think it’s because I learned by cup cleaning habits with our votive glasses (and its so easy just to sit them in a tray of boiling water… and as soon as you see the wax turn white on the edges you can just scoop it out with your finger).  I’m not sure whether this cleaning tip would work with glass.  But it is genius for the our beeswax tealight candles in clear cups.

If you have a clever tip, please never assume I already know about it!  Sometimes I’m so deeply in tune with the ‘trees’ that the view of the forest evades me!

Thanks again to Barbara for a genius tip.  Please feel free to share any you might have by commenting below or emailing me.

I hope you have a great week.

Cate xx

Clear tealight cup versus aluminium tealight cup

Clear tealight cup versus aluminium tealight cup

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When one of the original team behind Earth Hour organised her wedding, the eco credentials of all the partners that went into making her day magic were critical.  Being a bit of a style maven the look was just as important.   She came to us wanting the candles to be the centrepiece of every table.  Rather than volumes of flowers thrown away at the end of the night, the bride opted to keep the table decorations very simple with one of our large honeycomb pillar candles in the centre of every table and a smaller beeswax pillar candle at each place serving triple duty – bomboniere/wedding favour gift, place holder and ambience creator.  Using candles as the table centrepiece is an idea that is a fraction of the cost of what many brides spend on flowers alone and then had an abundance of candles left over on the night to light up their honeymoon (and probably about the first 5 years of married life given how long our beeswax pillars burn for)!

wedding decorations, wedding table centrepiece idea, eco wedding, wedding candles

Keeping the wedding table decorations simple, a Queen B pure honeycomb pillar candle formed the centrepiece of every tableOur bride had the venue turn the lights to their lowest setting to allow the ambience to be 

 

Our bride had the venue turn the lights to their lowest setting to allow the candles to create a magical and romantic ambience on the evening.  Look at the incredible warm glow created with all those golden, bee created flames. 

candle bomboniere, bonbonniere gift, eco wedding

Eco wedding ambience courtesy of pure beeswax honeycomb pillars

 

Each hand-rolled, pure honeycomb, beeswax pillar candle was wrapped with twine and a place card for each guest… a bomboniere gift for them to take with them at the end of the evening.  As a bride said to me once, every time one of our friends lights their wedding favour candle they’ll be thinking lovely things about us and you can’t buy that sort of karma!

wedding favour, bomboniere idea, wedding centrepiece, eco wedding

Queen B pure beeswax pillar candles doubled as wedding favours and eco table decoration

 

bomboniere idea, bomboniere gift, wedding favour, wedding centrepiece, wedding table decoration

Bomboniere gift idea, wedding table decoration and eco wedding ambience all rolled into one

 

If we’ve lit your wedding or event (no matter how big or how small) and you have beautiful, professional quality photographs showing the candlelight on the occasion that you’d be happy for us to share, please email them to me and we’ll give you a $25.00 credit on your next order.  We’re also happy to provide credit to the photographer.

Sweetness & light and all things bright,

Cate xx

 

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I’ve just had my third phone call for the month by a concerned customer who had been on another beeswax candle company website and was asking about whether there was chlorine in our beeswax.  She directed me to the site.  Apart from the fact that the information on the website is misleading and deceptive, the claims are fear-mongering and causes panic where there is no need for alarm.  There are enough genuine concerns for us to worry about in terms of chemicals in our lives without someone intentionally misleading people.

Amongst many other ridiculous, grandiose claims and lies, the (misleading and deceptive) website claims:

Chlorine in beeswax

Almost all candle manufacturers overlook or ignore this very crucial point when attempting to manufacture a clean fume candle.

If a candle manufacturer {beeswax or other} is not mentioning that their wax is free from chlorinated water for example, it is most probable that their wax is melted in and absorbing chlorine through chlorinated {town/city/potable} water.

“Chlorine must be avoided as the chlorine is absorbed by the wax and will be released as a toxic gas if burned in a candle” [ p69].
THE ABC AND XYZ OF BEE CULTURE, Morse & Flottum, 1990

A quick fact check reveals that the paragraph that he quotes from The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, Morse & Flottum, 1990 is taken completely out of context.  This particular part of the book (which is an invaluable beekeeping reference guide) is discussing options for chemically bleaching beeswax.  The relevant paragraph reads as follows:

“We cannot emphasize too strongly that there are several dangers and precautions to be taken when processing beeswax.  For example, bleaches using chlorine, which is an excellent bleaching agent, must be avoided as the chlorine is absorbed by the wax and will be released as a toxic gas if burned in a candle.” [emphasis added]

cleaning beeswax

The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture, Morse & Flottum, 1990 (pg 69)

I couldn’t agree more.  They are talking about pouring raw chlorine into the wax to bleach it.

I can only speak for Queen B when I say that there is no chlorine (or any other chemical) used in our cleaning process.  Nor that of our beekeepers, all of whom we’ve audited prior to buying wax, and whom we’ve had relationships going on for a decade now.  In fact, I don’t know a single beekeeper who uses chlorine (or any chemicals) to clean their wax.  [The book, now in its 40th edition,  was first published in 1877.  It's age old wisdom has been standard practice in the industry for over 100 years.]  At Queen B we use the age-old process of purifying and cleaning our beeswax with water, time (to allow impurities to settle) and filters.  The filtration we use would certainly not be industry standard and is the result of a decade of trial (& error) and thorough testing.  We’ve ‘kissed a lot of frogs’ learning what we’ve learned.  We’ve also read all the literature and learned from our forefathers… both in beekeeping and in candlemaking.

I guess this is another reminder that unfortunately, even on the side of “good” there is the occasional evil person.  If you have bought in to any of the claims on this website, can I suggest that you ask to see the claimed organic certification for their wax.  Can I also suggest that you read our post about the pigments we use for our, world-renowned, rolled pillar range.  And, can I respectfully suggest, that if a company is a proven liar, who has no compunction in misleading and deceiving potential (and actual) customers and who actively seeks to cause fear where there is no cause for alarm, that you should not buy their products.  This is a company that claims on their home page to have been manufacturing pure beeswax candles since 1975 (although they claim on another page that they made their first tealight in 1993) and yet made all of their beeswax candles from a blend of beeswax and macadamia nut oil until Queen B launched pure beeswax tealight, votive and pillar candles… all the while ranting on their website about the fume dangers of burning an oil!  And those are statements of fact… and in context!

It is challenging enough to run a manufacturing business in Australia, hand-making natural products, without having to spend time countering bogus claims.  I am always grateful when misled consumers call because I can give them the facts… do the research… find the evidence.  What really horrifies me is all those customers who believe the claims and don’t call.  Who don’t know me and hence don’t know that the integrity of a Queen B candle is unimpeachable.  Who don’t have the opportunity to experience the beauty of a Queen B candle because they bought the lies.  Who are misled and deceived.  It is enough to make a grown bee cry..  And the greatest shame is that they are sullying an industry that has so much goodness in it.

… I’m off to light more (Queen B!) candles and a smudge stick just to remove their energy from our hive.

Yours in truth, facts and light,

Cate xx

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We’re pretty spoiled for choice on things to write about at Queen B, but I have to say that one of my greatest delights is when our customers share photographs with us of their events and we can see our hand-crafted beauties doing their thing.

It is one thing to sell beeswax candles, it is another thing entirely to make natural light.

It’s one thing to use candles at a wedding or event, it is another thing entirely to use completely natural beeswax candles with their unique golden light (not to mention that your guests don’t have to breathe in toxic fumes all night)… that simple choice will not just create a special ambience, but you’re also supporting bees, our beekeepers, the regional communities they live in, jobs at Queen B… not to mention the environment and planet!  One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.  Wedding… becomes eco wedding… luxury wedding… different… special!

While my raison d’étre may be hand-crafting natural, non-toxic, carbon neutral, eco candlelight, we are fortunate that our candles appeal just as much to the luxury end of the market as they do to the conscious or eco consumer… not that they’re mutually exclusive!

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to share some of the photographs from events we’ve lit.  A picture speaks a thousands words (and, often, so do I!).  These photographs are from a wedding held at The Wharf in Sydney.  Flowers by Grandiflora.

For this wedding, the candles were used in two ways:

  1. Ambience – rising to the challenge of creating a warm, romantic, intimate ambience in a huge warehouse space, our 8-9hr tealight candles were placed in mini-fishbowls at each guest’s place setting and dotted along the windowsill around the venue.  NB putting candles into a glass not only provides wind protection but the glass reflects more light… giving you more bang for your hard earned buck.
    eco wedding, beeswax tealight candle, sustainable candle, carbon neutral wedding, eco event, sustainable event

    Queen B beeswax tealight candles at each guest’s place and dotted along the windowsill of the venue

    eco wedding, sustainable wedding, eco event, sustainable event, pure beeswax tealight, beeswax tlite candle, grandiflora flowers wedding beeswax

    Queen B pure beeswax 8-9hr tealight candles are the longest burning tealights on the market… so the ambience goes on and on

    eco candlelight for your eco wedding or eco event, sustainable beeswax tealight candle

    Stunning flowers by Grandiflora… candlelight by Queen B’s long burning 8-9hr beeswax tealight candles

     

  2. A sea of candlelight feature table – our bride wanted to create a sea of candles as a feature at the event.  This was cleverly achieved on a budget by using large fishbowls, glass plinths, tealight holders and votive holders along with various sizes of candles to create the look.  The flickering of the flames reflecting off the glass holders of different sizes and shapes created the look of hundreds of candle flames.
    eco wedding, sustainable wedding, eco event, sustainable event, beeswax candle

    The sea of beeswax candles created a lovely light feature table for this eco luxury wedding created a beautiful impact

    eco wedding, beeswax candle wedding, sustainable wedding, eco event, sustainable event, candle feature, sea of candlelight

    The use of glass fishbowls allows for a huge candle feature table on a more limited budget

    eco wedding, sustainable wedding, carbon neutral wedding, eco candlelight, beeswax candle, beeswax wedding

    Create a sea of beeswax candlelight with the clever use of fishbowls, hurricanes, plinths, tealight holders, votive glasses etc

    eco wedding, sustainable wedding, eco event, sustainable event

    Creating a candle feature at your luxury eco wedding or event is a high impact way of creating instant ambience

     

A few tips for creating this look:

  • most good florists will have glassware that they can lend/hire to you for the evening rather than purchasing it.
  • if you’re having an event at home or not using a florist for your event, hire glasses (lowballs or highballs) as another cheap way of creating this look without breaking the bank
  • otherwise, most Vinnies stores have a huge range of glassware for sale… I’ve lit an event before where I bought over 150 glasses for 50c each and then dropped them back the next day.  That’s a win win!  And the different sizes, shapes and heights of the glasses create a beautiful look… if that’s the look you’re going for!… it’s not the luxury eco wedding look, but it is a lovely look!
  • these photographs were taken before we launched our tealights in clear cups… the tealights in clear cups would be EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL… if that’s even possible

If we’ve lit your wedding or event (no matter how big or how small) and you have beautiful, professional quality photographs showing the candlelight on the occasion that you’d be happy for us to share, please email them to me and we’ll give you a $25.00 credit on your next order.  We’re also happy to provide credit to the photographer.

Sweetness & light and all things bright,

Cate xx

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I’m on a roll of loveliness at the moment… in the zone… it’s all flowing at the hive.  I received a card in the mail on Friday (and I LOVE mail that doesn’t come in a window envelope).  The shape and colour of the envelope (ie red and square) had me ripping it open immediately.  This is what I read:

“Dear Kate [we'll forgive her for not knowing it was Cate with a 'C' because a hug doesn't come with spelling instructions],
I’d like to say thank you again for the little gift of Bee Light candles you gave me and the lovely cuddle [yes, I give all sorts of things away for free at the hive :-)]. Saturday morning I was feeling a bit down.  Sometimes you take on the world but you feel you can’t do what you want to do, or solve all the worries.  I felt like I was carrying all the troubles of the world on my shoulders.

We also had friends coming for dinner on Saturday night and I just didn’t have everything in order as I wanted.  That’s when I said to Pete (my man in matching clothes!) I need a special candle to clear the air and brighten my day. [NB This couple came in to the hive wearing the same colours and when I commented on it they moved 3 feet apart and looked horrified!  I thought it was gorgeous.]  As Pete chatted to you I was still thinking about saving the world.

To bring your candles home and light them was the cleansing that I needed and your little gift made my day.

You not only sell a special product, but your shop has something mystical about it that you reign over.

Again thank you

Love

[amazing, thoughtful, lovely customer] xx

P.S. My candles are glowing now as I write.”

 

Just in case I did ever wonder whether it’s all worth it (and, for the record, that is rare) it is cards like this that have Tilly and I metaphorically high fiving, chest bumping and loving what we do sick.

IMG_3732

Beautiful, thoughtful, lovely, generous customer note

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So we all know that I bang on constantly about not all waxes (paraffin, soy, palm and beeswax) being equal… well, that applies to beeswaxes too.

A few weeks ago a customer bought a ‘pure beeswax candle’ for me from Dusk.  It is sold at a discount to a the smallest Queen B hand-rolled honeycomb candle (theirs is about 20% narrower and would have less labour as it is not finished properly).  A part of me was thrilled that this purveyor of paraffin (petrochemical wax) candles now had a natural beeswax candle as part of their range, but I was a little disappointed to see that they were using what appeared to me to be very dirty beeswax, using the wrong wick and that the candles were messily made and unfinished.

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - pre lighting

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle – pre lighting

 

Aesthetics first (because that is how you get a customer to notice your product in the first place): by not finishing the candle top and bottom it doesn’t actually sit straight and, in addition, most house proud people don’t want candles that look dirty.

And now on to the performance – which is really driven by the wax and the wick.  When bees make beeswax it is white, so any colour in beeswax is impurities.  A little of that is great… a little honey residue is what gives beeswax candles their natural honey aroma.  But a lot of impurities are a disaster waiting to happen in terms of a candle doing what a candle is supposed to do… ie provide light with a lovely, large flame.

It’s one thing to have a theory (and a decade of pounding your head against a brick wall to learn what you’ve learned :-0) and quite another to see that play out.  So we fired them up.  Notice the respective sizes of the flame upon being lit (and that the Dusk candle doesn’t sit straight).

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - just lit

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle – just lit

 

After 30 minutes… wick used in the Dusk beeswax candle is beginning to drown… (the clean beeswax and cotton wick in the Queen B candle are performing well… happy queen).

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 30 minutes

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle – 30 minutes

 

An hour and a half in, the difference is even more noticeable.  If I were the Dusk customer I would now be thinking that beeswax candles are cr*p and don’t burn properly.  I’d be very disappointed.  I’d be thinking twice and thrice before forking out my hard earned money on beeswax candles again.

Queen B vs Dusk pure 100 pure bee wax candle - 90 minutes

Queen B vs Dusk pure beeswax candle – 90 minutes

 

2 hours in…

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 120 minutes

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle – 120 minutes

 

Two and a half hours…

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 150 minutes

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle – 150 minutes

 

Three hours… You really have to wonder how rigorous their testing procedures are… or do they just not care?

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle- 180 minutes

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle- 180 minutes

 

Three and a half hours…

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 210 minutes

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle – 210 minutes

 

Five hours burning now.  Dusk have a very disappointed customer and beeswax candles are now unfortunately tarred with the same brush…

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 5 hours

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle – 5 hours

 

And after seven and a half hours I’d seen everything that I needed to see.

Queen B vs Dusk 100 pure bee wax candle - 7.5 hours

Queen B vs Dusk beeswax candle – 7.5 hours

 

Anyone who knows me knows that anything that I say, I will say to someone’s face.  Brutally honest?  Yes.  Two faced?  No.  Three days ago, armed with my tests and photographs I called Dusk to try to speak to their product development people or the relevant buyer.  I was told by the Help Desk that they couldn’t give me those details for “privacy reasons” and to rather send an email.  I sent an email the same day – firstly alerting them to the problem (selling a product that didn’t perform, destroying their own brand and damaging the reputation of beeswax candles) and secondly offering to make their beeswax candles for them.  “Don’t just give me problems, give me solutions”!  I received a response telling me that my email had been sent on “to the appropriate persons who will be in touch should they wish to discuss further”.  The “appropriate persons” haven’t been in touch yet.

What’s not to discuss?

And that brings me to price.  Yes, there are beeswax candles on the market that are cheaper than Queen B candles, BUT I can say hand on heart (and having not increased our prices in over 6 years despite all of our costs increasing every year) that if they are cheaper they just aren’t the same quality.  Now, that is a BOLD statement.  It may even seem arrogant.  I genuinely don’t mean to be, I just know the cost of making pure beeswax candles.  Here’s what makes Queen B candles different:

1. we only buy 100% pure Australian beeswax (which is the most expensive beeswax in the world because it is free from the chemical residues that other beeswaxes have as we are free of the varroa mite)

2. we only buy beeswax from specific honey flows, from specific beekeepers and we have searched far and wide over the past decade to find those beekeepers who are producing the best beeswax available… and we pay well above the market rate so that they earn a premium for the premium product that they sell.

3. we then clean that wax (which beekeepers consider clean) properly ourselves over a period of 48 hours (using water and filtration)

4. we spend literally months on wick testing before we launch a candle on to the market.  With literally hundreds of pure cotton wicks at our fingertips there is a lot of testing to be done.  The difference between the wrong wick and the right wick is often only evident several hours into burning… or in certain weather conditions… or on a particular surface.  It’s not a craft, it’s a science.

5. we hand make every Queen B candle.  Sure you can churn them out of a machine faster (and cheaper) but you forgo quality and you forgo the ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes a hand made product special.  Not sure how hippy you want to be about these things but I can be a bit out there and to me there is a certain magic in a candle that has been made by a person.  Sure it costs a little more.  Many a well intentioned person has advised me to look at mechanising our process or moving production off shore.  But to me it is untenable.  We have focused on being outrageously efficient and every single person who has ever worked at Queen B has understood very early on that if we aren’t all efficient we are out of business.

Designing and hand-making pure beeswax candles is a craft.  Ensuring they burn properly is a science.  At Queen B we try to do both with excellence, and THAT is the difference between a Queen B pure Australian beeswax candle and any other beeswax candle on the market.  Being a complete perfectionist has many, many drawbacks and one very obvious benefit.  The drawbacks are primarily mine to deal with, the single benefit is the greatest gift that I can give our customers and the bees that make the beautiful wax that goes into Queen B candles.

Thanks to you for your support.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter how good our wax is, how comprehensive our wick testing is or how much perfectionism we bring to the job, if no one is prepared to buy your wares you don’t have a business.  Thank you for letting me run this business.  I consider it a great privilege to do what I am passionate about every single day.

Cate xx

 

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