What better time to know candles better?
The season of lights, is here. You’re probably considering buying diyas or candles – or maybe even using traditional diyas that hold a tea-candle because they’re so much tidier than the oil and cotton wick combo, right? And who doesn’t enjoy the delicate scent of a candle when they walk into a room after a long hard day?
But then there’s the thought that always crosses your mind. How safe are these to burn? Especially if you need to have an air purifier running at home.
There’s no need to worry, I’ve got you covered! Read on for the conscious living guide to buying sustainable candles.
What you need to look for while choosing non-toxic and eco-friendly candles:
There’s a wide variety of candles out there for all of us who enjoy the flicker of candlelight – tall ones, short ones, those that float and those that don’t! The list goes on… Let’s look at them part-by-part to make choosing easier:
1| The packaging
This one’s pretty straightforward. Candles wrapped in glittery packaging, layered material or single-use plastic are a no-no. Many eco-friendly candles have packaging to match and it’s usually stated on the box! Look for terms like recycled paper or compostable packaging.
2| The container
This doesn’t apply if it’s a free-standing candle. However, you’ll find candles in holders made of recycled glass or aluminium. Aluminium is an eco-friendly metal so tea-candles are a great choice there!
3| The wick
You’ll have to look at the label for this one. Some candles have zinc or lead additives to the wick which can release toxic gases when they burn. Opt for candles with natural cotton or wooden wicks.
4| The fragrance
If you are going down the scented candle route, look for candles with scents that are phthalate and paraben free or ones that use essential oils. Some essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint contain compounds called phenol that can irritate the respiratory tract if inhaled, particularly in babies.
Good Wax vs. Bad Wax:
The wax the candle is made of warrants a section all on its own purely because of the number of different waxes available on the market. So here goes…
1| Paraffin wax
Many candles are made of paraffin wax which is a by-product of crude oil. Burning one of those is pretty much like burning a fossil fuel indoors. Paraffin wax may also be labelled as mineral wax. Sneaky that.
This one’s a no brainer – avoid at all cost!
2| Palm oil wax
Quality-wise, palm oil candles are better in terms of indoor air pollution. However, most palm oil is grown on land that was cleared of rainforests for the purpose – even if it is RSPO certified. If you’re tempted to buy one of those – think of a baby orangutan.
3| Soy wax
Soy candles are more eco-friendly than the palm oil wax ones although most of the soy production in world is from Genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Always look for non-GMO wax candles, which are an infinitely better choice.
4| Coconut wax
Coconut – now we’re talking sustainability! Can you possibly think of a more useful tree than coconut trees? Not only do these candles burn more slowly than most other types of candles but they also give a lovely, warm coconutty aroma. Coconut wax is also vegan-friendly. Basically, it’s coconuts FTW!
5| Stearin wax candles
These are essentially made from vegetable and animal fats making them safe to burn but you do need to look at the ingredients to see if they have palm oil in them too.
We’ve saved the best for the last! Can we have a drum roll please? Enter beeswax! This naturally occurring wax is sustainable, hypoallergenic, long lasting, and burns cleanly with no soot or smoke to boot. Unlike paraffin-based candles, they don’t release carcinogens like toluene and benzene either. What’s more is that they smell nice on their own too without the need to add fragrances. The only downside is that beeswax is not vegan.
In case you’re wondering where to find them, Coco and Bees Co., Simply Earth and Yours Bee Loved make some divine beeswax candles!
Or you can attempt to make your own candles – different types of wax and candle-making kits are easy to find online. That way you have control over exactly what goes into your candles. It’s also a fun activity to do with your kids. It can get messy which just adds to the fun of it!
We hope this clears up all your candle gifting dilemmas this holiday season.
Here’s wishing you a safe and eco-friendly season.
With warmth and love,
Sumedha – Your candle-loving, eco-storyteller!