"The world is full of toxins, but we don't think they should be in your home."
We are Fontana Candle Company, a passionate family-owned company, dedicated to natural health and wellness. We firmly believe that what you breathe, and what you place on your skin, is just as crucial as what you eat when it comes to your well-being.
As a family that has dealt with asthma, multiple chemical sensitivity, autoimmune issues, Melanoma, and a tragic loss to Lymphoma, we take toxin exposure very seriously. In fact, our lives depend on it.
Our journey began in 2017, when we were newlyweds. A friend gave us a name brand candle that smelled incredible. Although we rarely burned candles in our home, we were shocked to discover that after just one day of burning the paraffin-based fragrance candle, we experienced headaches and felt terrible. Determined to find answers, we embarked on extensive research into the world of candles and fragrance, and what we uncovered left us horrified. The rest, as they say, is history.
The toxic truth about candles is hidden in plain sight. Conventional paraffin wax is derived as a byproduct of petroleum, coal, or oil shale and contains controversial and harmful chemicals such as benzene and toulene. Typing “best natural candles” into Google reveals dozens upon dozens of options that are presented as natural and non-toxic, but in reality, most are far from that.
Soy candles are often marketed as a healthier alternative to paraffin. While that may be true, what many of those soy candle companies won’t tell you is that they are not 100% soy, as the processing still requires small amounts of paraffin. Manufacturers are even able to market their candles as “all natural” when they utilize soy wax derived from hexane (a chemical commonly extracted from petroleum). Soy is also a crop that is heavily spayed with pesticides, and most soy grown in the United States is GMO soy.
From our research, beeswax was the answer to our toxic candle dilemma. Beeswax is non-toxic and clean burning, especially when combined with an all natural wooden wick.
Candle making became our "date night" Thursday night hobby. After months of testing we discovered there was a reason there are not many scented beeswax candles on the market: Beeswax is too hard and does not hold a scent well. Blending the beeswax with pure coconut oil was the answer! After 150 attempts, we finally found the optimal blend that allowed a nice even burn without scorching.
Pictured here is the actual melting pot that we used to make our first candles. We still use this pot at Fontana today when making small test batches of new scents.
Read more about our ingredients here.
Essential Oils for a Natural, Non Toxic Scent
When we launched in 2018, we thought we solved the toxic dilemma by providing a natural wax base and ensuring that each fragrance we used was free of harmful phthalates. After a year of hand-pouring our candles, Katie started reacting to the fragrances and developed multiple chemical sensitivity. We began more research and realized there was something else keeping us from our mission of complete non-toxicity: our candles still used fragrance oils.
When it comes to the alluring scents and fragrances used by many of the leading candle manufacturers, the ingredients are often far from natural. Because they are considered trade secret, fragrance companies are not required to list the chemical additives utilized to create a candle’s scent. According to the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), fragrances can contain as many as 3600 ingredients!The National Academy of Sciences reports that approximately 95% of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrance oils are derived from petroleum! Many of the chemicals are the same ones found in toilet bowl cleaner, paint thinner, wart remover, and insect repellents.
Fortunately, an alternative to fragrance oils can be found in essential oils. Essential oils are truly from nature, defined by the Oxford dictionary as "a natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted." Essential oils are generally collected through a distillation process that carefully separates the essential oil from the flowers, needles, twigs, fruit peels, seeds or roots where it is found.
By swapping traditional fragrance oils for natural essential oils, we can proudly say our candles are 100% natural and non-toxic.
We tested the waters slowly, starting to grow our business locally in Lancaster, PA by attending Maker's Markets and Pop Up Shops. We made $800 at our first Maker's Market and that got us thinking we might actually have a viable business!
When we outgrew making the candles in our kitchen, we turned our basement into a candle studio. Our fur-baby Stella was our first helper, but very quickly friends and family volunteered to help make and label candles, as we still had other jobs to pay our bills.
We knew we had to do something drastic to prove that our candles were different than all the greenwashed candles on the market. If everyone else is calling their products "natural and non-toxic", what would signify to the consumer that ours are truly what we say they are?
For starters, we knew complete ingredient transparency was key, so we began putting all of our ingredients on the label. This was unheard of in the candle industry.
We also knew that third party certification would set us apart. There was a problem though. No organizations were currently certifying candles.
We reached out to MADE SAFE® and they were willing to screen our products. We began a six month process where they audited every ingredient and every supplier that we use.
In November of 2020, we were able to share the earth shattering news: we were the first candle to ever be independently certified as non-toxic by MADE SAFE®!
Not too long after our certification, we were named the Best New Natural Living Product by Natural Products Expo.
After gaining industry recognition, our brand quickly garnered organic word of mouth on social media. However, when the pandemic struck and people were confined to their homes, their focus shifted to health. As their orders arrived, bringing a small source of joy, more and more customers began sharing pictures of their new candles on Instagram. The combination of these circumstances proved to be the ideal catalyst for Fontana, creating a perfect storm of opportunity
At this point, we had outsourced our shipping to a third party fulfillment service, but we were still making all our our candles out of our basement. We were begin to press our luck with our neighbors as we began to take tractor trailer loads of beeswax and coconut oil.
We knew it was time to go all in on our dream, so Eric quit his job and we began our search for a warehouse.
In January 2021 we moved to a 3100 sq ft facility about 20 minutes from our home. We still used the third party fulfillment service, so initially the space housed only our candle production.
At this time our friends and family still volunteered to help us make our candles, but we knew it was time to hire our first employees.
By August of 2022, we had moved shipping back in-house, and we had two full time employees besides ourselves.
Cancer has shaped who we are as people, as a family, and as a company.
In early 2021, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society challenged our Founder, Katie, to raise funds to help children battling blood cancer for the Man & Woman of the Year Campaign. Katie spent ten weeks raising funds every way possible in memory of her late father, Francis "Chip" Errigo who passed away in 2019.
Katie created a Breathe Hope t-shirt campaign, created raffle baskets, and rallied local business leaders to donate product and create their own fundraisers. Fontana proudly donated funds from our "Charity Candle of the Month."
We are proud to announce that Katie raised $23,934 during the campaign!
Our clean candle fans have been asking for different ways to enjoy their favorite scents, and we are now proud to offer Wax Melts, Bar Soaps, Bath Soaks, and Home Sprays.
We have the same high ingredient standards across all of our product lines, because we want you to be able to fill your home with the scents you love and trust.
We were also the first room spray/air freshener to complete MADE SAFE® certification.
In August of 2023 we moved to our current home, a 6500 sq ft facility. We needed the space to house our over 100 certified non-toxic skus, as well as our team of 11.
We are always looking for ways to improve our current products, with improving our packaging as a main focus. With the added packaging comes a new commitment to sustainability, and a vow to use the least amount of plastic as possible.
We are in the process of changing our name to Fontana Essentials, as we feel this more closely embodies our mission of being more than just a candle company.
Fontana is honored to be the candle that cancer survivors and current warriors burn and trust. When we hear a member of our community is battling cancer, we send them a care kit of Fontana products. We know what this fight feels like, and we hope our candles and essentials provide a bit of comfort during a stressful and trying time.
In addition to donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Fontana proudly donates to the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
Stumbling across the toxicity in candles in 2017 has taken us on an amazing journey these last 6 years!
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to each and every customer who has
entrusted our products to grace their homes and enrich their family's lives. We are equally grateful to those who have shared our company's story and mission.
As a small-family owned company with no outside investors, we truly could not have done this without our loyal customers.
The future looks bright at Fontana thanks to all of you!
Katie & Eric Roering, Founders