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​Are candles good for the environment?

​Are candles good for the environment?

31st Oct 2022

If you're eco-conscious, it's understandable that you'll want to know how eco-friendly the candle you're purchasing is. However, it's also important to know that different candles are made from varying materials.

Candles are bad for the environment when they're made from paraffin wax and chemical-based fragrances with wicks containing pesticides. On the other hand, candles made of soy or ethical beeswax and scented with only essential oils with zero artificial chemicals are good for the environment.

In essence, candles are bad for the environment if they contain artificial chemicals, while those made of only natural materials are eco-friendly.

How do candles impact the environment?

Generally, you impact Mother Earth whenever you burn something. Candles negatively impact the environment due to the CO2 released when the wick burns. However, some candles are much safer than others, largely due to the choice of wax used. For example, paraffin wax is obtained from crude oil and therefore constitutes serious climate change when it burns (think fossil fuel). On the other hand, natural materials like beeswax and soy-based candles do not release greenhouse gases and are, therefore, safer for the environment.

The materials used to produce the scent and wick also have some effect because they release fumes into the atmosphere as the candle burns. But, again, some are more harmful to the environment than others.

So, what exactly should you be looking out for? How do you choose the right candle if you want to reduce your carbon footprint?

Let's take a closer look at the different components candles are made of.

The Wax

Paraffin wax is bad for the environment

Most cheap candles you come across in stores are made from paraffin wax. Paraffin wax has a low price point since it's the byproduct of the oil refining process, so it's readily available. But that also means it's virtually a fossil fuel product. So when you buy paraffin wax-based candles, you're promoting the crude oil industry, which is the perfect opposite of eco-friendly.

Sadly, the environmental impact of paraffin doesn't end with the manufacturing process. Burning paraffin-based candles release toxic fumes into the atmosphere, including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. These gases constitute the greenhouse effect and further harm our planet. In addition, paraffin wax can potentially cause lung cancer and asthma, according to a South Carolina State University study.

Soy candles are good for the environment

Soy candles are eco-friendly because the wax is made from soybeans, which is a naturally occurring plant.

Soy wax is biodegradable and burns clean, as there are no fossil fuels burned or toxic hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere. It also burns slower than paraffin, meaning it will last longer. This also means you'd actually be burning less material in the long run. That's precisely what you get from the soy-based candles in this gift set.

Soy candles may come at premium prices, but they are highly sustainable and are recommended if you're on a mission to reduce your carbon footprint.

Beeswax is also a very eco-friendly alternative

Beeswax is a highly sustainable option for candle wax. The material is produced by bees as they go about producing honey. So you can extract beeswax while harvesting honey.

However, small business owners may not be willing to make candles from beeswax because it is a challenge to harvest large amounts of it. So this is often left for large-scale ventures. And that makes the candle pretty expensive.

Like soy, beeswax also burns cleaner and slower than paraffin, so candles made from beeswax will offer you more value for money than a cheap paraffin-based candle ever could.

But there's something that ethical manufacturers and buyers need to consider. Bees may be harmed in order to harvest a sufficient amount of beeswax. When there are fewer bees to pollinate flowers, crops suffer, and that's not good for the environment either.

As it stands, soy-based candles are the safest and most eco-friendly options on the market today.

The Fragrance

Synthetic scents

Different types of substances may be used to achieve the desired scent. And not every candle manufacturer is eco-conscious as they should be.

But here's a secret: whenever you see the word "fragrance" among a candle's ingredients, run! "Fragrance" is often a cover word for several harmful chemicals, including phthalates, which can cause cancer, birth defects, and respiratory problems due to immense toxicity. Many of such chemicals are combined to form a scent. Unfortunately, there's currently no law that requires manufacturers to write out the ingredients of their candles, so they're free to add whatever they please.

Here's a tip: most paraffin-based candles are artificially scented and, therefore, bad for the environment.

Natural scents

The scents of soy and beeswax candles are usually from natural oils, which are more eco-friendly. Just be sure to check during the purchase. A candlemaker may vaguely use the word "natural", but that's no guarantee. Candles made with natural scents usually indicate that they are scented using essential oils.

The wick

Wicks made of 100% cotton are generally safer. Recycled paper fiber and hemp are also eco-friendly choices.

Although wicks with lead cores are now banned in the US, you should still be cautious. The vapor from lead does not only constitute air pollution but can be dangerous to your health.

The packaging

Modern candles come in containers, such as glass, wood, and tin. Tin is the most popular option but isn't the most eco-friendly. The mining of tin is bad for the environment due to the pollution it generates. It's also non-biodegradable and can cause harm to aquatic ecosystems when it finds its way there. So if you're eco-conscious, you want to steer clear of candles in tin containers.

Using glass containers for candles is better for the environment since glass is reusable and 100% recyclable without losing quality or purity. It's also made from naturally occurring materials such as sand and limestone.

Care for your planet while relishing all the benefits candles provide

Candles are more than just a lighting source. Candles, especially scented ones, can be sensually and spiritually gratifying. The aromatic effects can also be mentally empowering and may help fight stress and anxiety. But of course, you want to reduce your carbon footprint, so you don't wish to purchase candles that are bad for the environment.

If you're looking for eco-friendly candles, you'd be surprised how easy it is to get them. This gift set contains eco-friendly candles made from American-grown soybeans, scented with essential oils, and packaged in glass. They are hand-poured, and the entire production process from start to finish pays great attention to the safety of Mother Earth.

You can be sure that, with every minute your candle burns, you're impacting the environment as minimally as possible.

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