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Candles are an easy way to give your room a cozy and personal atmosphere. No wonder that candles, with their warm shimmer and countless smells, have a strong following. Unfortunately, while candles can be a calming addition to the home, not all candles are made equally. Some candles contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment, animals, and even our own health! Below are candle ingredients to avoid, as well as examples of candles that are more ethical and safer!
Although beeswax is often touted as a sustainable choice when it comes to makeup, candles, and personal care products, the harvesting process is so unethical that beeswax is entirely should be avoided. Beeswax is obtained by “melting a honeycomb with boiling water and then sieving it and cooling it”. While this process may not seem directly harmful to bees, cruelty is an inherent aspect of beekeeping. For example, cutting off the queen bee’s wings is a common practice to prevent her from escaping the hive, which can be incredibly stressful for the queen. Similarly, the queens are often instrumentally inseminated by chopping up drone bees and extracting their sperm … which is very annoying.
Beekeepers routinely take away the honey that is the result of weeks of intense work and replace their golden nectar with low-nutrient sugars such as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. These sugars have been shown to weaken bees’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to pesticides.
These unethical practices have far-reaching effects beyond the commercial beehive itself. The frequent trade in honeybees can spread diseases and parasites quickly and infest populations of wild bees. Likewise, millions of queen bees are commercially bred from just a few queens. This lack of genetic diversity has been thought to be a major cause of the decline in honeybee populations as resistance to pathogens and parasites decreases.
Harvesting beeswax is linked to harvesting honey, which means that beeswax is also cruel, since honey is cruel.
One of those harmful ingredients is palm oil. The palm oil controversy has become mainstream, especially due to the ubiquity of this ingredient in processed foods. Harvesting the fruits needed to make palm oil is destroying tropical ecosystems across Southeast Asia, mainly through deforestation. Likewise, this practice of deforestation has a significant impact on the animals living in these forests, particularly the orangutan populations, which have declined by 80 percent over the past 20 years. It is also linked to various human rights and labor rights violations.
Because palm oil is so cheap to make, it’s used in a wide variety of non-food products, including soap, shampoo, and yes, candles. Candle companies know that many consumers are working towards greener lifestyles, which is why many resort to greenwashing to manipulate consumers. To help identify this greenwashing and easily determine if a candle contains palm oil, Products Without Palm Oil has created a list of terms to look out for. These terms include: vegetable wax, 100% natural, natural ingredients made from coconut, eco-friendly, and wax blend. Since palm oil is natural and vegetable, these companies focus on these buzzwords to mislead consumers into making an environmentally friendly choice. It is important to always read all of the ingredients listed on the label.
Paraffin is a widely used candle ingredient made from petroleum waste. Before paraffin is processed into candle wax, it is chemically bleached and deodorized. However, traces of its petroleum past can be seen in the black soot that emerges from the wick of a paraffin wax candle.
Burning paraffin wax can release toxins into the air that are similar to those from diesel fumes. Burning these toxins has been shown to cause skin, eye, and lung irritation – and these are only the short-term effects. Not only is burning paraffin bad for personal health, but these toxins and the process by which paraffin is harvested are harmful to the environment. Crude oil is a non-renewable resource that has played a role in numerous environmental disasters such as oil spills, habitat destruction, and climate change.
Because paraffin is cheaper than natural waxes, it has become almost ubiquitous, both in cheap candles and familiar ones Candles like Yankee and Bath and Body Works. Since paraffin is derived from such a toxic substance, its use has become increasingly controversial. While many studies claim that burning paraffin candles is harmless, these studies are funded by the very companies that benefit from consumers buying such candles and should therefore be viewed with a certain amount of skepticism.
While this list may seem overwhelming, choosing a candle is actually pretty simple! Look for a label that says the candle is made 100% soy wax. As mentioned earlier, paraffin and palm oil can be cheap additives, so soy wax candles may seem expensive upfront, but you will save money in the end. Since soy wax requires more heat to burn than paraffin and palm oil, the candles burn slower and therefore last much longer, so you don’t have to buy candles as often. Similarly, these candles burn much cleaner, which means that hopefully you can avoid some of the health problems associated with burning paraffin.
Candlove candles come in a variety of scents, including Sugar Cookie, Gardenia, and Eucalyptus Spearmint. These candles are made from 100% soy wax and 100% lead-free cotton wick. They burn for 70 hours and sell for around $ 18.95.
Aira candles offer a range of complex scent blends, including Citrus & Teakwood and Lavender & Bergamot. In addition to lead-free wicks made of cotton and 100% soy wax, these candles contain essential oil blends of therapeutic quality. Aira candles retail for around $ 25.99.
In addition to Wild Fig & Cassis, other CoCo Benjamin fragrances include Dark Amber & Water Lily and Apricot Peach Basil. Their 100% soy wax candles are handcrafted and hand poured by their small team, who pride themselves on their « meticulous craftsmanship and ethical production. » These candles cost around $ 18.95.
Ocodio candles are made from 100% soy wax and come in a jar that’s perfect for reusing after the candle is completely burned out. These candles cost around $ 14.99.
These Asoeosa candle duos are also available in other pairs such as Fresh Rose and Grapefruit. The candles are also made from 100% soy wax and burn for about 50 hours per candle. They sell for around $ 16.99.
If all of this candle discourse is too complicated, don’t worry – there are plenty of other ways to make your home smell amazing! Check out our 9 hacks to make your home smell great without dangerous chemicals. This includes ideas like cooking cinnamon and creating your own room sprays!
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