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Our Story

Our Beginnings

It was back in the summer of '93 when I was first enlightened with the idea of making candles. My good buddy Hefe and I were hiking along the rugged shoreline of the Olympic Peninsula. On our first evening, as the final rays of sunshine dipped below the horizon, we breathed deep of the fresh ocean air and fixed our gazes upon the emerging stars. After several hours of philosophical banter on the meaning of life, my eyes settled on the most recognizable beacon in the northern sky, "The Big Dipper". Suddenly my future flashed before my eyes. I would use elements of nature, which I so respect, to create a natural source of light. Hand "dipped" beeswax candles. And so "Big Dipper" Wax Works was born. Like drones to their queen, we have served and remain dedicated to our values, and proudly continue to make the best all natural candles available.

Our Beeswax

Our Process
Our beeswax is filtered via natural clay process that cleans the wax of impurities, yet allows the wax to retain its inherent color and aroma. Our candles are produced by hand in small batches.

Our Wax
At Big Dipper Wax Works, we strive to use the highest quality ingredients in our candles. That's why we are committed to making 100% pure beeswax candles. Most of the beeswax we use is collected from Northwest beekeepers, including British Columbia. The crops in this region rank lowest in exposure to pesticides in North America and is the highest quality beeswax available. As our business grows we have had to expand our wax resources outside of the North American channel and are exploring global wax sourcing. We are actively pursuing creating fair trade partnerships with beekeepers in several foreign countries. We are currently sourcing about 25% of our wax globally. We have hand selected the wax and run extensive testing to insure it is up to our high quality standards.

Color
Beeswax gets its wonderful natural color and honey-like fragrance from the pollen and nectar of the flowers the bees are pollinating. The color often depends on what particular crop the bees are pollinating. Dark berries, like blueberries or blackberries, will derive a much darker, browner wax. Clover, however, will result in a brighter, golden tone. Our colored beeswax candles are dyed with eco-friendly dyes that do not contain hazardous solvents or additives such as naphtha or naphthalene. Our dyes are never tested on animals. All of our candles are handmade, and the beeswax is never 100% consistent in shade, so there may be variations in color.

Soy Wax
Soy wax is an eco-friendly, renewable alternative to paraffin wax. Oil is extracted from the soybeans and hydrogenated. This process alters the melting point of the soy oil, making it a solid at room temperature. Our soy wax is made from soybeans grown by farmers in the United Sates. Soybeans are a completely renewable resource (in contrast to paraffin). While global reserves of oil continue to shrink, the American farming industry can continue to supply the demand for this crop. Soy wax is a very clean burning wax with reduced carbon buildup and no pollutants. There are many choices when purchasing candles, and soy wax is an excellent option.

Our Ingredients

Beeswax, the purest of all candle waxes, is a product of the sustainable industry of beekeeping. The simple filtration of beeswax is a natural process that uses no chemicals and very little energy.

Beeswax is naturally aromatic, infused with the sweet, subtle scent of honey. Nontoxic and nonallergenic, beeswax candles burn clean and soot free. While burning, they release negative ions, just as seashores or rainstorms do. These negative ions improve air quality by eliminating pollutants and allergens from the air that we breathe.

The high melting and burning temperature of beeswax translates into exceptionally long burn times. While burning, their golden flames glow with the same energy and spectrum of light as the sun. 

Beeswax candles are the ultimate in beauty and luxury. They are the natural choice for people who care about their health and the health of the environment. 

All of our wicks are made of 100% cotton and have been primed with beeswax, not paraffin, which many other candle companies (even beeswax candle companies) use.

All of our aromatherapy candles are scented with pure essential oils extracted through heat steam distillation or cold-press methods, which are the most natural ways to extract oil from plants.

Our Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the ancient practice of using natural plant essences to promote health and well-being. It utilizes pure essential oils, which are naturally extracted from a wide variety of plants.

Beeswax is known for its healthful properties as well, being an anti-bacterial agent and releasing negative ions, which purify and cleanse the air. 

Many companies claiming to produce aromatherapy candles use synthetic fragrances and/or paraffin wax, which is a petroleum by-product. These ingredients emit harmful toxins as they burn and contradict the true essence of aromatherapy.

The union of pure essential oils and beeswax is the clear, healthy choice for the mind, body, and soul. At Big Dipper Wax Works, we carefully blend the finest essential oils, combine them with the purest beeswax, and hand pour the mixture to create great smelling, long burning, all natural candles.

Our aromatherapy candles are available in these ten therapeutic blends and several varieties:

 

Awaken  (Grapefruit + Spruce) is an exhilarating, woodsy scent that enlivens your senses and refreshes your mind.
 

Meditation (Cedarwood + Balsam) is a calming, woodsy aroma that promotes a clear mind and inner peace.
 

Serenity (Frankincense + Lavender) is an enticing, comforting aroma that soothes the senses and stimulates creativity.
 

Balance (Lavender + Peppermint) is a refreshing, herbal blend that helps ground energy and elevate awareness.
 

Harmony  (Pure Lavender) is a calming, floral aroma that promotes balance and relaxation.
 

Rapture (Patchouli + Cassia) is a stirring, exotic blend that arouses passion and excites the senses.
 

Sensuality (Geranium + Ylang Ylang) is a warm, floral aroma that promotes relaxation and  sparks desire.
 

Rejuvenation (Sweet Orange + Clove Bud) is a spicy, uplifting medley that revives and restores inner strength.
 

Radiance (Ylang Ylang + Tangerine) is a warm, glowing blend that inspires happiness and wisdom.

 

Our Commitment to the Community

From the beginning, Big Dipper has been committed to the well-being and satisfaction of our customers, beekeepers, and community.

Big Dipper is a Green America Approved Business. Green America's thorough screening process, which takes into account the social and environmental practices of a business, offers third party verification of our commitment to the community and to the environment. Look for Big Dipper in Green America's National Green Pages directory.

Living locally is living responsibly, and Big Dipper is committed to giving back to the community in a way that will ensure healthy ecosystems for years to come. We focus our charitable efforts on three main areas:

Education, Research, and Sustainability

Big Dipper is committed to supporting a vibrant community of customers, beekeepers, and bees. To that end, 10% of the net profits from all candle sales is donated to organizations dedicated to outreach, education, and sustainability efforts devoted to promoting sustainable beekeeping.

Big Dipper is an active member of our local community. We support a variety of local groups including schools, sports organizations, animal shelters, and health research organizations.

Education

Pollinator Partnership

The Pollinator Partnership is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has taken a leading role in the effort to protect pollinators thru: research; advocacy; and public outreach and awareness. Like pollinators, the Pollinator Partnership is a small organization that works with great efficiency, often behind the scenes. They are determined to protect the pollinators who are responsible for one out of every three bites of food that we eat!

The Xerces Society

The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Since 1971, the Society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs worldwide.

The Society's Pollinator Conservation Program was launched in 1996. The program’s staff of eleven collaborates with leading pollinator researchers, agency staff, and business community partners to promote pollinator education and training, and to translate the latest research findings into on-the-ground conservation. Our efforts have resulted in more than 38,000 farmers and conservation professionals receiving training and the creation of over 120,000 acres of new habitat for pollinators. We also work to protect threatened species and their habitat and to engage the wider community in studying and conserving pollinators through the Bring Back the Pollinators campaign and citizen-science projects such as Bumble Bee Watch.

Seattle Tilth

For over 30 years, Seattle Tilth has been teaching and inspiring people to grow organic food in the city. They offer hands-on educational programs for adults, teens, and children. Their five Community Learning Gardens are free and open year round for the public to learn new techniques while touring the sites. Their Volunteer Program offers unique opportunities for people to help Seattle Tilth achieve its mission while also increasing their knowledge and gaining experience with urban food production and resource conservation. Seattle Tilth operates the Garden Hotline, where callers can get free information and answers to questions about organic gardening.

Seattle Tilth recently adopted and re-launched Seattle Youth Garden Works, a job-training program for homeless and at-risk youth. Youth learn how to grow, package, and sell produce at a local farmers market; they participate in all aspects of the food system and gain a range of leadership and employment skills. The Farm Incubator Program, launched in 2010, helps refugees, immigrants, and other low-income individuals overcome obstacles to creating small farming businesses. In addition to helping individuals create a better life for themselves through their own enterprise and industry, the Farm Incubator Program also facilitates access to and consumption of healthy foods in the low-income communities of which these farmers are a part.

Vanishing of the Bees

Vanishing of the Bees unfolds as a dramatic tale of science and mystery, illuminating the extraordinary crisis of colony collapse disorder and its greater meaning about the relationship between humankind and mother earth. The full length feature film educates viewers about the importance of bees and informs people about ways they can help bring the bees back. The filmmakers hope to screen Vanishing of the Bees around the world, and an educational version of the film will also be made available to schools across the country.

Research

Penn State Department of Entomology

Penn State has a significant commitment to honey bee and pollinator health.  There are more than 14 different researchers involved in all aspects of pollinator health (genomics, behavior, pathogens, parasites, environmental toxins, ecology), and have made seminal internationally recognized contributions to understanding the causes of decline in both honey bees and other pollinator species. Several faculty and staff are members of the CCD working team and have made important contributions to our understanding of the factors that are likely involved in pollinator decline and possibly CCD, particularly viral pathogens and pesticide exposure.  In order to further their efforts on critical issue related to pollinator health, they are in the process of establishing a Center for Pollinator Research. With the establishment of the Center they will have the opportunity to organize, formalize, and substantially expand on their efforts to understand and improve pollinator health.

Sustainability

Heifer International

Bees from Heifer International help struggling families earn income through the sale of honey, beeswax and pollen. From Uganda to El Salvador, Ghana to Poland, bees not only provide food and income, but they can as much as double a farmer’s crop production.
 

 

Our Commitment to the Environment

Socially and environmentally responsible business practices have always been a focus at Big Dipper. We are committed to creating products and a work environment that contribute to the health of our community and the planet. 

We always:

Use all natural, biodegradable ingredients: Our candles are made from locally sourced 100% beeswax, which undergoes no chemical processing. Our candles are scented with pure essential oils, and our wicks are 100% cotton. 

Reduce: Our candles don’t need lots of extra packaging to make them extraordinary. We use minimal packaging made with post-consumer recycled paper products and soy based inks. We are constantly striving to reduce our energy use, and raw materials and finishing products are shipped in bulk whenever possible.

Reuse: Packing materials from inbound shipments including boxes, bubble wrap, and peanuts always get reused. 

Recycle: We recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum, and glass. We complete the cycle by using materials made from recycled content for packaging and shipping whenever possible! Our tins are made from a minimum of 75% recycled metal, and our boxes and labels are made using post-consumer recycled paper products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Choose Eco-friendly and Economical: We encourage our customers to reuse all of our glass and tin containers, and we sell bulk refills for many of our products. Click here for more information about how to clean your containers and get them ready for reuse!

Compost: Not only is our beeswax biodegradable and compostable, so is some of our packaging! We are always looking for ways to reduce our footprint, and we have begun to use PLA, a plant-based compostable polymer in some of our packaging rather than plastic. We also use cornstarch-based packing peanuts instead of polystyrene. 

Buy Products Locally Whenever Possible: We strive to use local suppliers whenever we can. The bulk of our beeswax comes from beekeepers in the Pacific Northwest, and our boxes come from nearby Auburn, Washington.

Work to Improve Air Quality: Beeswax candles, themselves, clean air of toxins by releasing negative ions when burned. 

Support Sustainability: We support local, responsible beekeepers by not only buying their product, but also by supporting a variety of education, research, and grassroots organizations that are working to sustain a healthy beekeeping community.