Of Kalburo and Kandila-A A +A
By Rox Peña
Thursday, October 31, 2013
TODAY, millions of Filipinos, me included, will be flocking to cemeteries to visit the graves of departed loved ones. It’s the first Undas where I will light a candle for a member of the family -- my younger sister who died only last October 8. She was buried in a Memorial Park in my hometown Mabalacat City.
When I was a kid, our Undas destination was the old Mabalacat cemetery. Back then, the cemetery was spacious. In fact, the cemetery was our “hunting ground” for wild birds. Armed with tirador (slingshots), we would hunt Patirik-tirik, Sibad and Partituklap. Our hunting trip would end up with a swim in the nearby Quitangil River which was then clean and unpolluted.
During those old days, people would paint the tombs with “kalburo”. Today there are many cheap water-based latex paints available in the market, but some may still be using this inexpensive white paint. They don’t mind if the paint will be washed away after the rain. At least the tomb is pearly white during undas.
“Kalburo” is actually calcium carbide. Its main use industrially is in the production of acetylene and calcium cyanamide. The material is also used for artificially ripening fruits, hence the term “kinalburu”. According to wikipedia, in some countries it is illegal to use the chemical for ripening fruits because of health hazards. I’m not sure if our own Department of Health bans the use of the chemical for ripening fruits. Not sure too if using it as paint is hazardous.
This day, candles of all kind of shapes, colors, sizes and scents will be lit up. With millions of candles burning simultaneously, expect air pollution to worsen. The major air pollutant is soot, tiny dust particles, which is a caused by imperfect or incomplete burning. Candle manufacturers recommend that to reduce soot emission, trim the wick (pabelo) to ¼ inch.
Aside from soot, another potential danger from candles is the use of lead-core wicks. Most wicks are made of cotton or cotton-paper combination. Metal cores are used to stiffen wicks and avoid falling or bending which will extinguish the flame as the surrounding wax melts. The Eco-waste Coalition warned the public on the use of candles with lead-cored wicks as they may release toxic fumes into the surroundings and cause lead exposure via inhalation of airborne lead.
Watch out too for scented candles. Some aromatherapy candles emit hazardous substances like acetone and benzene. There are suggestions that it is better to use candles scented with natural essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. The US National Candle Association suggests that consumers buy beeswax candles, which are cleaner and safer than candles made with paraffin wax. Fumes from the paraffin wax have been found to cause kidney and bladder tumors in laboratory animals.
Let’s all have a safe, peaceful, eco-friendly and meaningful Undas.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on November 01, 2013.