What is the most eco-friendly type of candle?
If you’re a candle fanatic, you want to make sure your obsession isn’t harming the environment. Here are some facts to help you determine whether a candle is eco-friendly.
What makes a candle bad for the environment?
Paraffin wax is the most common wax used in commercial candle making. Paraffin wax, derived from petroleum, is cheap, and easy, as it is a by-product.
However, candles made of paraffin wax are terrible for the environment and can also cause health problems in people and pets. They aren’t biodegradable, release more smoke into the air, and can release toxins which can irritate your lungs and cause or exacerbate health problems. Your pets are smaller than you and will therefore feel the effects more. Some experts consider breathing in toxins and smoke from paraffin candles can be just as dangerous as second-hand smoking.
Candles made with animal fats
One of the alternatives to paraffin candles is Stearin candles. While these are usually sustainable – usually made of palm oil, which should be sustainably sourced – they can also be made of animal fats, making them less than eco-friendly.
Artificial fragrances and dyes
If you look at the ingredients of many cheap candles, you’ll see ‘fragrance’ listed, rather than an oil or spice, such as lavender oil or cinnamon. Usually, this indicates that a synthetic fragrance has been used. Artificial fragrances are terrible for the environment. When burned, they release more soot and chemicals into the air, causing more pollution and potentially harming wildlife if inhaled.
Like synthetic fragrances, artificial dyes can harm people, animals, and the environment. Artificial dyes are usually aniline (chemical) dyes, which release chemicals into the air when burned. It may be tempting to purchase an artificially dyed candle, as they are often brighter in colour, however you will be doing so at the cost of your health and the environment.
Eco-friendly candles come with minimal packaging. If your candle is covered in plastic, it’s only going to harm the environment. The plastic will simply be thrown away and end up in landfill.
What candles are eco-friendly?
Candles made with natural waxes, such as beeswax, soy wax and coconut wax, are the most eco-friendly option. Overall, beeswax is considered the most sustainable wax for candle making. However, some may consider it unethical to use, as it is retrieved from bee hives and most of the honeycomb in a hive needs to be removed to retrieve it. Soy wax is the next best option, as it is cheap, biodegradable and easy to get your hands on.
Scented with natural ingredients
Look for ingredients such as ‘lavender oil’, ‘peppermint oil’ or ‘cinnamon’ oil. Candles scented with natural fragrance ingredients are better for the environment and release less soot and toxins into the air. Though natural fragrances may still exacerbate existing lung conditions such as asthma, they are far less harmful to you, your pets, wildlife and the environment.
Undyed or naturally dyed
Your candle doesn’t need to be brightly coloured to add an aesthetic touch to your home. Avoiding dyes is a great way to become an eco-conscious candle enthusiast.
If you’re looking for a coloured candle, be sure to choose one that doesn’t contain artificial ingredients. Instead, look for ones dyed with natural ingredients. For example, a red or pink candle may be dyed with beetroot juice.
Purchase candles that don’t come with additional packaging. When buying a candle in store, take the candle as it is, rather than asking them to box, wrap or bag it. Make sure your candle is in a glass jar and repurpose it once your candle has reached the end of its life, by turning it into a vase, storage container, or terrarium.