“I declare this world is so beautiful that I can hardly believe it exists.” The majesty of nature can have a profound effect upon our senses - our gateways from the outer world to the inner - whether it results in disbelief in its very existence, as Ralph Waldo Emerson declares, or feelings of profound wonderment and elation. The soothing sight of clouds meandering across a bright blue sky, a bracing gust of wind that refreshes our face, the subtle orchestra of a trickling stream, or the smell of the earth just after it has rained… to venture out is frequently to venture inward, and as we take notice of our surroundings, we often find we are navigating our own consciousness.
Nature is inimitable in its complex beauty, as well as its restorative benefits - a simple deep breath immersed in a verdant canopy of trees can do so much for our mental wellness. It is no mistake that the word ‘inspire’ comes from the Latin word ‘spirare’ - to breathe.
It is with this in mind - the basic acknowledgement that we need nature perhaps now more than ever if we are to nurture this connection with ourselves and the planet - that our desire to start CandaScent Labs was born. When we first began formulating the aromatic profiles of our candles, one of our primary concerns was doing justice to a deeply felt responsibility - to wield science with an accountability to the future, and a goal of protecting this precious planet and its countless treasures. We decided early in our formulation process to support sustainable agriculture by doing something we had never seen - sourcing certified organic essential oils for our candles.
Why did we decide on organic essential oils?
Improper cultivating and foraging of plants can lead to shortage and botanical scarcity, affecting the health and diversity of the planet and its creatures. Some essential oil supply chains are already being strained, and as we know our planet’s natural resources are limited, the production and sourcing of essential oils need to be managed mindfully.
An increasingly popularized interest in natural and botanically rich products and essential oils has brought to light the need for sustainable sourcing. Dr. Kelly Ablard, from the Airmid Institute, which researches the ethical sourcing of plant extracts and sustainable harvesting, notes:
“It is a devastatingly huge problem. According to the Global Market Insights, back in 2018 the global essential oils market exceeded 7.5 billion USD and is estimated to exceed 15 billion USD by 2026… The issue of the sustainability of carrier and essential oil-bearing plants is therefore inseparable from the threat to the global natural environment, and from factors that contribute to the ravages of climate change.”
To further illustrate this poignant commentary - one ounce of lavender essential oil requires 15 pounds of raw material, and 60,000 roses are needed to produce one ounce of its essential oil. Unless we are mindful of our agricultural practices, the essential oil industry risks depleting natural resources faster than they can be replenished.
When we consulted research into the ways we could source our ingredients, we realized a sad truth: that conventional essential oils can often be produced unsustainably, with incalculable damage done to surrounding ecosystems. The use of pesticides and herbicides in farming practices results in the bioaccumulation of harmful chemicals in our terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, polluting not only the soil and water, but also the organisms that rely on them. This endangers the natural habitats of our planetary housemates - one study showed that two commonly used pesticides harm up to 97% of endangered species in the United States alone.
These practices can even promote the biomagnification of chemicals into the final product. Since essential oils require a great quantity of raw material to produce, the presence of these pesticides can be significantly magnified. One study we encountered was able to detect as many as 39 different pesticides in a batch of conventional essential oil, resulting in an astonishing concentration of 51.1 mg of chemicals in a liter of oil.
Over the past few decades, as we have become increasingly aware of the stresses on our planet, more of us want to make choices that can alleviate the burdens we have placed on it. By sourcing organic essential oils, we invest in a system that supports the proper care, nutritive replenishment and regenerative harvesting needed to maintain a thriving supply of plants.
How can we support programs that protect the earth?
Organic accreditation does not only protect humans - it protects the earth that sustains us. International accreditation agencies exist with the purpose of allowing us to source mindfully from around the world. Organic certifications differ slightly from country to country, but what they all have in common is an evidence-based assurance that the final product is the result of farming practices that encourage environmental stability, promote biodiversity by utilizing animal-friendly methods, and support the restoration of natural resources.
Some of these sustainable practices include:
Rotating which crops are grown, which helps restore the soil’s nutrients and naturally wards off pests
Composting to permeate the soil with organic matter
Encouraging wildlife diversity
Preventing the contamination of water sources
Utilizing machinery that consumes less energy than conventional methods
Collecting in depth documentation of practices, which allows for extensive ability to trace processes from seed to final product
Because they are grown in fertile soil replete with nutrients, and nurtured more carefully than conventionally grown produce, research shows that organically cultivated plants have higher nutrient density - healthier soil grows healthier plants, and healthier plants are more nutritious plants. This nutrient density in turn translates to greater therapeutic value, making organic plant essential oils ideal for health-oriented applications.
Why hasn’t this been done before?
The truth is, sourcing certified organic essential oils is costly, sometimes twice as expensive as their conventional counterparts - which themselves can easily cost ten times as much as synthetic, petrochemical-based fragrance oils. However, by investing in our supply chain we support the change needed for a more sustainable future.
We believe that our choices matter - that we can be intentional stewards of a mindful future. We will always strive to formulate healthy candles that are safe for ourselves and our environment, so that we may pass our planet down to our children and grandchildren - like the precious heirloom it was intended to be.
Mariana Furio Franco Bernardes, Murilo Pazin, Lilian Cristina Pereira and Daniel Junqueira Dorta (July 8th 2015). Impact of Pesticides on Environmental and Human Health, Toxicology Studies - Cells, Drugs and Environment, Ana Cristina Andreazza and Gustavo Scola, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/59710. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/toxicology-studies-cells-drugs-and-environment/impact-of-pesticides-on-environmental-and-human-health
Fillâtre Y, Gray FX, Roy C. Pesticides in essential oils: Occurrence and concentration in organic and conventional essential oils from eleven geographical origins. Anal Chim Acta. 2017 Nov 1;992:55-66. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2017.08.039. Epub 2017 Sep 4. PMID: 29054150. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29054150/)
Dr. Kelly Ablard. The Airmid Institute. https://airmidinstitute.org/about-airmid-institute/
Ahuja K, Singh S. Essential Oils Market Size By Application (Orange oil, Lemon oil, Eucalyptus oil, Clove oil, Peppermint oil, Jasmine oil, Rosemary oil, Cornmint oil, Citronella oil, Geranium, Spearmint oil, Lavender oil, Tea tree oil and others), By Application (Food & beverage, Aromatherapy, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Pharmaceuticals, Cleaning & Home care, Animal Feed, Fragrances and Others) Industry Analysis Report, Regional Outlook, Growth Potential, Competitive Market Share & Forecast, 2019 – 2026. Global Market Insights. 2019;1-280. Report ID: GMI2391. Oct. 2019.
Crinnion WJ. Organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Apr;15(1):4-12. PMID: 20359265 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20359265/)