Chemistry Question #3167

Kim Monin, a 46 year old female from Nepean, Ontario asks on January 11, 2006,

I am trying to make natural beeswax into an ivory colour. Some people say they use natural dyes. Can you tell me which dyes make ivory? If you burn candles with natural dyes are they toxic? Someone told be that they had to be bleached, to use hydrogen peroxide. If I do this when a candle is burned, will it be toxic?

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The answer

Kim Flottum, Editor of Bee Culture magazine answered on January 19, 2006

You are correct. The peroxide will, when added to melted beeswax, essentially oxidize any organic matter, pollen, propolis, other matter, leaving only wax. The problem is: the odor also goes. The wax is lighter colored, but is it still beeswax?

[Editor: In general beeswax is not toxic. Dyes generally do their job in extremely minute quantities--note on packaging where the ingredients are listed, colouring agents are one of the last things listed because there is very little--so it is very unlikely they would be toxic. How would the toxin get into the person anyway? Not likely through physical contact. If you think the air in which the candle is burning might become toxic, it's very unlikely because there would not be very much left after the dye is burned to poison anyone.]

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