During the wintertime, we love spending the evening indoors watching some TV or participating in hobbies (like writing these blogs!).
While we’re indoors, lighting a few candles around the house and staying in for the night is a nice way to make the house feel like home. However, we all know that burning candles has an effect on the environment and it can get expensive So, how can we make our choice zero waste candles instead of regular ones?
I’m talking about what you do when it’s time to blow out your candle and then throw away the container for good.
If you’re looking for a new eco-friendly way to bring scent into your home without compromising on the indulgence or smelling any less fabulous, then you’re in the right place. I asked the same question and this is what I found.
What Makes a Candle Zero Waste?
Candles in themselves are not the worst thing you can have in your home if you’re trying to reduce your impact on the environment, but one thing you will find when buying zero waste candles is that there are many options to choose from, and they may even come in packaging that is less-than-zero waste!
If it’s not the packaging you’re concerned about, it’s the type of wax that is used, and even the scents too.
When trying to live a more sustainable and zero-waste lifestyle, we need to take a look at the whole system that we’re in.
Let’s start with the wax, to begin with.
Comparing Different Waxes for Sustainable Candles
Modern candles can be made from all kinds of waxes, with some of them being more eco-friendly than others.
Here are a few different waxes and their sustainability impact.
The most commonly used wax for candles these days seems to be paraffin wax, which is also known as petroleum wax. Not only is this wax not organic, but it’s also derived from oil and 85–90% of the global wax consumption comes from petroleum.
What’s more, the process that is used to make paraffin wax creates a by-product known as coke. This is essentially pure carbon and is used to produce gas and synthetic fibres.
There are now more brands making coconut wax candles, as it’s thought to be a more sustainable alternative to paraffin wax.
Coconut wax doesn’t release coke in the manufacturing process and only uses traditional beeswax in its production, which makes it a great alternative if you want to go zero waste.
Some of the downsides of using coconut to make wax for candles are that coconut wax is heavier. Coconut wax zero waste candles burn at a slower rate and there is some concern around the harvesting of coconuts from the wild.
Tallow Wax Candles
Tallow candles are typically made from the tallow of beef or mutton, which is the fat that surrounds their internal organs.
This makes the tallow an excellent fuel source for candles as it is a byproduct of the meat industry, However, the process of making tallow candles has been linked to environmental concerns because these materials require a significant amount of resources and energy to produce.
Although tallow is a byproduct, tallow candles are not popular in sustainability circles because the industry requires so much energy to be used in the production process. This can make a tallow candle highly unsustainable depending on the size of the factory that is producing them and how much tallow they are extracting.
It takes 9 pounds of leaf fat to fill around four 1 quart jars, which is a fairly good return but beef tallow is also not vegan friendly as it is an animal by-product.
Beeswax candles are one of the most eco-friendly ways to burn a candle.
Beeswax is produced by bees through the process of collecting nectar and turning it into honey. The largest producer of beeswax is China, which is where many of your beeswax candles are made. 6,000 tons of beeswax is produced annually in China and distributed across the world.
The beeswax found in these candles is collected from managed hives in countries that respect bee colonies and their habitat.
One major downside to using beeswax for your candles is that beeswax is not suitable for vegans, as it is made by honey bees. Beeswax candles are usually more expensive than other brands too and come in a more limited range of scents.
Rapeseed wax candles have become popular in the zero waste community because it is thought to be a great alternative to paraffin wax candles. Rapeseed used in the making of candles is a by-product of the rapeseed oil industry.
Rapeseed oil is made from rapeseeds, a type of cabbage seed, that has been heat-treated at high temperatures and then pressed in order to extract the oil from them.
Zero waste candles made with rapeseed wax are a great alternative to paraffin, but it is important to take a good look at the sustainability of the oil industry where you live before making your choice.
Soy Wax Candles
Soy candles are another eco-friendly alternative to paraffin wax candles and are considered by many people to be a sustainable candle option.
Soy wax is made from soybeans that have been crushed to extract soybean oil. Soybean oil has several uses including biodiesel, which is a fuel that can be used instead of fossil fuels and other products derived from soybeans.
One of the downsides of using soy wax for candles is that it requires a lot of heat to make and is processed using hexane, which is a petroleum by-product. The vapours of hexane can cause lightheadedness, giddiness, and dizziness.
How do you make a candle eco-friendly?
When it comes to buying zero waste candles, there are a lot of questions to ask. Some of these questions include:
- What wax is used?
- Does it cause pollution, and is that made clear?
- Are they tested on animals?
- Where do they come from?
- What scents are used, and how are they sourced?
- What packaging is used?
- How is the candle transported from where it is made to the store?
If you’re concerned with your impact on the environment, you need to consider the whole impact of your choices and not just one or two aspects.
When buying zero waste candles, you want to look for a company that has been certified as cruelty-free, is vegan friendly, considered the packaging they use, responsibly sources their wax products, and makes and delivers their candles in an environmentally safe way.
A zero-waste lifestyle doesn’t necessarily have to mean the complete elimination of all waste, but it’s about rethinking our consumption patterns and finding smart ways to lead.
The Final Verdict on Zero Waste Candles
I love to have a candle or two burning in the evenings here at our mini-homestead, but having looked into what zero waste candles were the most sustainable, I felt there were more questions than answers.
I had a real struggle deciding which candle to use but feel I found some good alternatives that are suited for small spaces and zero waste home decor.
Next time you want to burn a candle, take the time to consider all the options and make an informed choice. The planet will thank you for it!