Wax Works in Devon
PUBLISHED: 12:34 18 March 2011 | UPDATED: 17:10 20 February 2013
When Amanda Stott couldn't find the pure candles she wanted, she decided to make them herself. She tells Anna Turns how this grew into Salcombe-based company Pure Light based in Devon
Within one year of trading, Pure Light has already been voted three of the best scented candles alongside Jo Malone and Miller Harris by Homes & Gardens magazine. So what makes Amandas small, independent business outshine the rest?
The woman behind the wax has a strong ethical and environmental philosophy, and she wont be lured away from it by temptations of mass production or profit margins. She sticks to her 100% natural ethos no matter what.
Im probably being a perfectionist, says Amanda. My initial idea for this business was triggered a few years ago when my mum was diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). This meant she became allergic to substances like perfumes and scented products due to a gradual build-up of chemicals in the body, so her immunity became weak to these products. This made me very aware of the things we were breathing in, explains Amanda.
I have always loved aromatherapy candles but I started to notice I would sometimes get headaches from even the most expensive brands of perfumed candles.
Amanda discovered that many candles used wax derived from paraffin, a cheap waste product of the petroleum industry. I was quite shocked to find there seemed to be no legislation in terms of what chemicals could be used in products like candles. Toxins released into the air from many synthetically scented paraffin candles are a real problem I discovered some candles released toxins similar to a cigarette. People are interested in the origins of their food, so why not the air they breathe at home?
When natural candles first came on the market a few years ago, many used pure vegetable wax but with synthetic perfumes, or a mix of waxes including palm wax (the production of which has been linked to deforestation in South East Asia). So there seemed to be a gap in the market for 100% pure scented candles using natural fragrances, explained Amanda, and I looked into getting some made but a lot of manufacturers seemed quite unsure of how to make them. Eventually, a friend suggested I just try and make some myself. So thats what I did at home in my kitchen, and it was really exciting it felt like I was at the cutting edge at the time.
I would mix my own unique blends of essential oils at home, said Amanda, who makes her candles with soy plant wax from a sustainable and renewable resource. Making each candle myself is incredibly labour-intensive you need to make the right blend, and I always use the maximum amount of essential oils to ensure the best scent. All in all, Amanda spent two years researching her subject, sourcing and testing her natural product, as the business evolved into Pure Light UK.
Pure Light now uses a select pick and mix of scents, taking into account the effect each aromatherapy oil can have on your mood or behaviour. I didnt want to recreate fragrances like cut grass or essence of fig. Nature produces the most wonderful scents naturally, so we invested in the finest essential oils instead.
Aromatherapy can be quite powerful. Geranium is a natural mood enhancer, lemongrass clears your mind, and English lavender relaxes. So Ive got different candles for different reasons, or times of the day, all over my own house. This summer, Amanda launches a new candle English peppermint and lemon. Its the perfect candle to have burning outdoors on balmy summer nights (plus it naturally keeps biting insects at bay).
My biggest challenge was always going to be finding good suppliers, says Amanda who is now proud to use a cooperative network of producers who guarantee the purity of each ingredient, and the origin of each oil can be traced from flower to flame. Wherever possible Amanda sources ingredients from within the UK. Her unique rose geranium oil comes from the Isles of Scilly, lavender and rosemary oils are produced from plants grown and distilled on farms in Kent and Norfolk.
Each one is bespoke, so although it is quite labour-intensive, I have got complete control over the quality, and people know they are getting the best possible product.
And Amandas mother is one very happy customer who uses the Pure Light candles all the time, without any side-effects, of course.
After working in London for 15 years, Amanda recently moved back to Devon because she missed being in touch with her natural environment.
I love Bolberry Down. It's so dramatic up there, with the huge sky, blue sea and wonderful coastline.
At the beach
My favourite beach is Mill Bay in Salcombe. I used to spend my summers here as a child and its really magical.
For food and drink The Millbrook Inn at South Poole is great and last year we went there by boat.
At weekends I love visiting the farmers market in Kingsbridge. Some of my favourite producers are Mark Lobb for fresh fish, Mikes Smokehouse, and I always use P.W. & J. Coleman butchers in Salcombe. Local produce is such a good link to the natural side of things.