Is there anything in the canons that say that candles used in churches must be white and 100% beeswax? Or is that just a preference? There are now various colored candles on the market made with recycled wax. Could these be used in churches?
Traditionally tapered candles were made of pure beeswax or, in many cases, 51% beeswax seems to be more readily available. Also, lights in glass holders traditionally employ oil rather than wax candles, although today many parishes use candles in glass holders rather than oil. It seems that in most cases what is used is whatever is most readily available.
Many of the non-beeswax candles made today are not made of wax at all, using instead a kind of petrolium product. These are especially pernicious in that they often give off an oily odor and the always create a horrid amount of soot on walls. I am not familiar with recycled wax candles, although many of the places that do produce pure beeswax candles buy back candle stubs from their clients.
One of the monasteries that make especially nice candles—we use them in our parish—is Saint John Monastery in Hiram, OH. The candles are 100 pure beeswax and are very reasonable in cost.
From another reader
I was reading the Q&A page on the OCA website and thought you might be interested in a little beeswax information. Beeswax is naturally colored in a range of pale yellows to deep tan, depending on the nectar that the bees were gathering at the time. White clover produces the palest honey and beeswax, clover a golden yellow, and canola (rapeseed) a darker product. It takes 4 pounds of hive honey to produce a pound of honey. White beeswax is made that way by bleaching it. I recyle the candle wax for my parish and use 50/50 old/new wax. I buy the new wax locally in 25# blocks from the beekeeper when I buy my honey.
Thank you for your most informative email concerning beeswax.
It was really interesting, especially since just about the only thing I had ever heard about beeswax—which was obviously not accurate—is that the darker the color, the longer it had been boiled. Obviously this is not the case. I will see what we can do about adding this information to the Q&A section.