Lifestyle| 3 min read

A Guide to Eco-Friendly Candles

We’re exploring what candles get a glowing review from an environmental perspective.

There’s nothing like unwinding and relaxing by candlelight. The warm glow and soothing scents create the perfect atmosphere for self-care evenings and dinner parties alike. Especially throughout the winter, candles help make the year’s darkest days more bearable.

As the holidays approach we find ourselves lighting more candles than usual. We wanted to shed some light on what makes a candle environmentally friendly. In this guide to eco-friendly candles, learn about what ingredients to look for and avoid so you can get environmental-ish the next time you buy this household essential.

 

What To Avoid

Paraffin wax

When you look more closely at ingredient lists, you’ll find that the majority of conventional candles are made with a wax called paraffin. It’s inexpensive and can hold a high amount of fragrance and colour. While this might sound like everything you’d want in a candle, there’s one major catch. Paraffin is a by-product of petroleum — a harmful fossil fuel driving climate change.

Not only is paraffin derived from an environmentally problematic source, but when burned, it releases highly toxic benzene and toluene, both of which are known carcinogens. Many candles also contain artificial dyes and fragrances, which can also release harmful chemicals. So although some candles may tempt you with an alluring inexpensive price tag, the cost on our health and that of the planet is high.

But don’t let your enthusiasm around lighting candles flicker. There are more environmentally sound alternatives that you can explore.

 

lit candles

 

What To Look For

Natural wax

As with most products that prioritize the planet, look for candles with wax and wicks made from natural organic ingredients that are sustainably produced. Here are some key things to look for and keep in mind to ensure you’re making the best decision for the planet and yourself.

 

Guide to Eco-Friendly Candles

  • Avoid candles manufactured with synthetic fragrances, toxic dyes, GMOs, pesticides, paraffin, parabens, or unspecified blends. Unspecified blends can often hide synthetic ingredients you want to avoid.
  • Once you’ve found a candle with natural ingredients, do a little research to ensure the ingredients are sustainably harvested and responsibly produced.
  • Natural ingredients to look for in order from most sustainable to least:
    • Coconut wax – This is one of your best options. Coconut wax is regarded as the purest, most eco-friendly option. A little more expensive but well worth the investment.
    • Rapeseed wax — Rapeseed is natural, vegan, renewable, and biodegradable. Plus, it’s known for distributing scent well. Scented candle lovers rejoice.
    • Beeswax — We’ll note that while beeswax has been used for centuries to make candles, is biodegradable and naturally cleans the air, it is not vegan. So this might not be a good option for everyone.
    • Soy wax — Soy is natural, vegan, renewable and biodegradable but is not considered the most sustainable option. This is because there are bigger concerns around the soybean industry in regards to deforestation and pesticide use. We suggest doing a little additional research when considering soy-based candles.
  • Avoid palm oil. Palm oil has been and continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests. Certified palm oil plantations occupy land that was forest and/or wildlife habitat as recently as 30 years ago. So even though plantations may be certified, they fail to account for past deforestation.
  • If you love scented candles, look for brands that use natural essential oils and extracts instead of synthetic fragrances.
  • Look for candles with wicks made from cotton, hemp, or wood. Wicks should always be lead and metal-free.

 

While you may have to spend a little more, investing in quality candles has long-term benefits for the environment and you. Hot tip: We recommend checking out our blog on sustainable and affordable simmer pots recipes if you’re a scented candle enthusiast.

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