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Eco-friendly Candles 101: Beginners’ Guide

Eco-friendly candles – should you use them instead of your usual candles?

As with any item in our daily routines, there are zero waste options for candles. Eco-friendly candles are even infused with aromatherapy benefits such as stress relievers, mood boosters, and sleep inducers.

Spa, Sea Salt, Salt, Aromatherapy

You can also craft DIY candles – and even make a hobby and satisfying side hustles with this. Or you can support candle makers who commit to sustainability while offering the goodness of candle lighting.

To help you understand eco-friendly candles, I asked several lifestyle bloggers and candle makers for their insights on this zero waste item. Get inspired to choose zero waste candles.

History of Candles

Did you know that in the old days, candle waxes were eaten during the famine? Well, you’ve heard it right. In the early years, after people discovered the art of candles and their perks by using animal fats to create one, thanks to the Romans, it has also been noted that when people ran out of food, they turn to candle waxes to satisfy their hunger. (i.e., tallow wax, derived from the meat of cows and sheep, and an unwound strand of twine.

Ancient Egyptians were attributed to the earliest use of candles in the past. They made torches using the core of reeds, a tall stiff grass-like plant, dipping it into the melted animal fat. The only difference with the candle that we know of today is that it has no wick – the twisted braid-like strip of a candle.

Despite its prominence during the empire, it was not much of a use to the bourgeois. Instead, oil lamps were more accessible because it was way affordable than candles. As per research, candles are considered luxury items. Although, at present, there are still luxury candles being sold in the market. But for ordinary candles, it is more affordable now. Parks London, for example, is a candle-making company that is still operating at present times.

Contrarily, in China during the Dynasty in 221 BC, candles were made of whale meat. However, due to this production, more whale meats are being extracted. With that, the population of whales was unfortunately decreasing. The use of candles in the past was all because of melted fats from animals and extracted from plants or even tree nuts.

Have you ever heard of wicked candles? It is not as extreme wickedness as villains in movie series, but it is more on the brighter side. Egyptians were known for using this kind of candle by using rolled papyrus and dipping it into melted tallow or beeswax. Moving forward, apart from its primary purpose to provide light and perhaps warmth for travelers and at home, candles also served a great purpose in religious ceremonies in the past.

A Jewish festival called Hanukkah is centered on the lighting of candles back in 165 BC. Not that candles are not used in any religious ceremonies at present, but it is surprising to know that a festival for such existed in the past. The imagery it gives to its audience about the number of warm colors filling the night, as its fire ignites, providing warmth and brighter light for everyone.

Are candles sustainable?

At the outset, given the prominence of sustainability campaigns worldwide, the crusade for sustainable development and environmentally friendly materials and whatnot were not limited to the eradication of single-use plastics and utilization of paper bags. This time, candles are part of the eco-club!!! Soy-based candles are said to be the most eco-friendly candles amongst others. But before that, let me figure out what is a soy-based candle is and what makes it a good choice for a greener environment.

Tea Lights, Candles, Candlelight, Faith

As candles being more than just a source of light these days. But they also became part of the aesthetics that we see in houses, churches, or even offices. It has made its impact relatively higher than its original purpose than before. Hence, shopping for candles, we take into consideration their scent and aroma. However, with the growing population of eco-friendly materials, we must also consider before buying candles if these candles are good for the environment.

True enough, given that it is made of different waxes, its performance and its effects vary. With that, it is highly recommended to buy candles that are not made of paraffin wax and resort to soy wax candles instead. The question is, why is this so?

What is soy wax and its benefit?

Soy wax is 100% naturally extracted from soybeans. Consumers are highly recommended to purchase soy-based candles because it is eco-friendly, unlike paraffin wax, a product from the oil purification process coming from petroleum, coal, or oil shale – not good for the environment. Moreover, the classic paraffin wax candles, although more affordable, but are non-renewable. With this, it is not sustainable.

Furthermore, the emission of black smoke from your candles is not a problem with soy-based candles. According to Candle Studio, “While all candles emit some black soot while burning, candles made from soy wax burns cleaner and results in less soot.” – soot is a fine black or dull particle of amorphous carbon. Moreover, given that it is naturally extracted from vegetables of soybeans, it is a great fragrance carrier. Thus, there is no need for the use of chemicals to obtain a pleasant fragrance. Also, it burns slower than paraffin wax candles. Therefore, your candle would last longer than usual.

What other products can be used for eco-friendly candles?

Apart from soy-based candles, here are some eco-friendly candles that people must purchase instead of conventional scented candles. Eco-friendly candles that do not contain wicks with heavy metals, such as lead. Moreover, the chemicals used for scented candles are not suitable for our health. They may be smell good but little do we know we are suffering from inhaling toxic chemicals.

Stearin candles

Stearin wax candles are plant-based waxes, usually made from palm oil or coconut oil. Their candle residuals are easily compostable, unlike paraffin.

These candles also work more efficiently than paraffin candles: longer burning period and less drip.

But because stearin wax is usually made from palm oil, it is not very sustainable when rainforests are cut down to cultivate palm trees for their oil.

Beeswax candles

Beeswax, especially when they are made from organic beekeeping, are among the most eco-friendly candles.

No further processing is needed since the bees themselves excrete the wax for their honeycomb. But they are also very expensive because beeswax is limited in quantity. Also, you cannot always check if the beeswax is ethically-sourced.

Many love beeswax candles for their long burning time and their delicate, natural scent.

Coconut wax

Ah coconut, the tree of life! You can also make eco-friendly candles out of coconuts – the purest, most eco-friendly and luxurious wax used nowadays but also very pricey. Coconut wax burns slowly and cleanly, and throws scent very well.

Rapeseed wax

Rapeseed wax, also known as canola wax, is a fine natural vegetable wax. This type of candle retains scent excellently and burns slower. What makes it very sustainable is that most rapeseed wax comes from Europe where it’s illegal to grow GMO crops.

What are harmful products to use for eco candles?

Now, if there are suggested eco candles that consumers must purchase, there are also those that we must avoid from buying.

Paraffin!! Paraffin-based candles are highly discouraged for the reason that it releases toxins which also contributes to air pollution. Once burned, it emits toxic benzene and toluene. Also, paraffin is a petroleum waste product, and petroleum is a fossil fuel.

Getting Eco-friendly Candles

When it comes to candles that don’t harm you and the environment, there are two ways you can find them. Either you make your own or buy from zero waste brands.

DIY Eco-friendly Candles

If you would like to start a simple yes eco-friendly business, here are a few ingredients and procedures that we can follow to make eco-friendly candles by Liane Sanders, a Licensed Yoga Instructor at Total Shape.

Materials:

  • 160 grams soy wax
  • 1 pre-waxed candle wick
  • 1 piece of tape or superglue
  • 1 200 ml reused heat proof glass jar or tin container
  • 1 scale
  • 1 stainless steel saucepan
  • 1 pyrex glass or stainless steel pitcher
  • 1 tablespoon
  • (optional) 1 candy thermometer or laser thermometer
  • (optional) decoration for your candle such as cinnamon sticks, dried herbs or flowers, dried oranges, anise stars
  • (optional) essential oils to scent your candle

Procedures:

Step 1: Melt the wax

Step 2: Prepare the container and add the essential oils

Step 3: Pour the wax into the container and decorate your candle

More shops where you can buy eco-friendly candles:

Eco-friendly Candles you can buy:

Backyard Candles Coconut Candles

eco-friendly candles

Backyard Candles makes beautiful coconut candles that naturally fit in with any home decor. Enjoy the brand and know that each item is handmade with upcycled coconut shells that otherwise would have been tossed away, polluting the environment. The unique aromas invigorate a room while creating a serene environment for relaxation and comfort. Boost your self-care regime with a dreamy bath and coconut candles that float!

Price: $10.00 – $25.00

Hope Street Candle Co.

They make 100% soy wax candles out of reusable glass containers. Soy wax is a renewable resource, unlike paraffin wax or soy wax “blends” candles with fossil fuel products.

Their candles are made from American-made rocks glasses, so when you’re done burning your candle down, you can use the glass forever as a cocktail (or mocktail) glass!

Their packaging is also 100% recyclable with no plastics.

The Handmade Soap Company

These candles transform any space for the better, especially cluttered headspace, full of essential oils and the finest natural ingredients. Breathe all that goodness in, and feel right at home, sweet fragrant home. Made from 100% natural ingredients, all of their candles are clean, safe, and long-lasting – up to 40 hours long.

Price: $19.95

One Fur All

May be an image of text that says 'PET HOUSE CANDLE® Freshens Pet-Loving Homes NATURAL SOY WAX MADE IN USA EVERGREEN FOREST'

Pet House Candles are hand-poured in the USA with 100% natural soy wax and are tested and proven to eliminate 99% of pet odors. All of Pet House products are made in the USA with premium fragrances that contain no dyes, phthalates or parabens. Their unique and much-loved product line also includes mini candles, wax melts, air fresheners, room sprays and car fresheners.

“It’s our mission at One Fur All to make air care products that are healthy and safe for pet families,” says David Neuwirth, Founder of One Fur All, “In addition, we seek to create packaging that will appeal to everyone and can complement any home décor. We are very excited to launch this new modern packaging that will benefit the environment all while helping to keep pet homes smelling and looking great!”

One Fur All has always been eco-conscious thanks to their decorative glass candle jars that were designed to be reused. The new bamboo lid will help to make Pet House Candles even more appealing to the many people who are motivated to live a greener and cleaner lifestyle. 

Conclusion

Eco-friendly candles are just a few of the zero waste swaps you can do. You can choose the DIY route or support small businesses and eco entrepreneurs in their sustainable advocacy.

As much as you can, choose zero waste items to use in your daily routines. Not only are you protecting yourself from toxic fumes or microplastics leaking into your things, you also help reduce waste in the environment.

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