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Bennington

Spreading a message, keeping the flame burning

Bennington: ‘Gary’s Girls’ honor the memory of famly member with soy candles

  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.

    Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.

    Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.

    Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.

    Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.

    Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.

    Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.

    Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.
  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.
  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.
  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.
  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.
  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.
  • Roxanne Langlois of Bennington and two of her daughters, Shania and Kendra, are making their own soy candles to spread the message that chemical candles are dangerous and that soy is safe to burn.

It was one of the first things the doctor talked about. Do you burn candles in the home? Being a candle lover, Roxanne Langlois of Bennington said yes. What she learned next would surprise her — the health risks of burning candles with a cancer patient in the home.

In 2010, Langlois’ husband, Gary, was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The family started seeing an oncologist at Dartmouth Hitchcock in Lebanon who advised the family to stop burning chemical candles in the home. The oncologist told Langlois that burning candles is not good for those battling cancer.

“When cancer patients are undergoing radiation therapy it can cause damage to the lungs,” Assistant Professor at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth in Lebanon, Angeline Andrew said in an interview Monday. “Anybody with severely compromised lung function, I would avoid adding potential air pollution,” Andrew advised.

If someone already has problems with their lungs due to radiation treatment, Andrew said that studies are showing that burning certain types of candles can give off more pollution than others. In one study Andrew referenced, it stated that soy and beeswax-based candles emit less soot but more formaldehyde, than paraffin-based (chemical) candles.

Andrew said that the most common indoor air pollutant is cigarette smoke, but smoke from candles, coal or a wood stove can also produce unsafe air pollution from the burned particles left in the air.

One alternative that Langlois found however, is burning soy candles, which are chemical free, unlike may popular household candles, Langlois said. Shortly before Gary passed away in 2011, Langlois started making her own soy candles with hemp wicks.

With the help of her sister-in-law — as well as Langlois’s three daughters, Nicole Beaudreau, 23, Shania Langlois, 17 and Kendra Langlois, 15 — Langlois began making soy candles in her basement.

Spreading the message about soy versus chemical candles, “feels like it’s about everyone,” Shania said. “A lot of people out there are sick and this would have a better effect on them.”

The only ingredients in the Gary’s Girls Candles, as they are called, include natural, essential oils, soy wax and the occasional use of coloring, Langlois said.

The family also uses hemp wicks instead of cotton. “The candles will burn longer” with the hemp wicks, Langlois said, “over 100 hours.” She noticed that the candles burn more evenly with the soy wax too.

The girls make more than just candles. Gary’s Girls also make air fresheners for cars and sachet bags to use in drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh. They use a variety of scents but the most popular ones are usually the clean cotton or the flowery ones, Langlois said.

To make the candles, it’s all about timing, Langlois said. Heat the soy wax up for so long, add the scent, keep heating it and eventually pour the wax into a jar with a wick.

“You hurry up then wait,” Langlois said.

For the sachet bags, the family makes tiny soy-wax balls infused with essential oils and lets them sit for a couple days. The car air fresheners are made by using cookie cutters in the soy wax, filling up the shapes with the oil and then baking them.

The family sells the soy products at craft fairs throughout the region, and they also work on custom orders. Gary’s Girls are currently working on a candle order for a wedding that requires 150 soy candles in cobalt blue.

Langlois said that people who purchase the candles will often ask why the family calls themselves Gary’s Girls and then they share their story.

“It’s for my dad. We’re raising awareness without making a profit,” Shania said. “Candles can hurt.”

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