Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Being conscious of your environmental impact can start to make you think about all kinds of products that you use. I for one find myself reading the ingredients on most hygiene products now to see if they are as natural as they claim to be. But it got me thinking about candles because like many other people I am hopelessly obsessed with them (especially around autumn and winter). It got me thinking, what is the environmental impact of burning all my favourite candles?
Candles tend to be a staple in most households, be that to cut out horrible kitchen scents, mood lighting in a dining room, or aromatherapy for helping you go off to sleep. They are also a staple gift to give and I would say there has never been a time where I wasn't happy to receive another candle. However, we should start looking at the types of candles we use. Yet again this doesn't mean you need to banish all candles from your home or never touch one without natural ingredients ever again, but rather start looking to see what is available to you. As far as sustainable swaps go, buying candles with natural ingredients is EXPENSIVE! I mean really expensive. I could simply say get some soy wax, or beeswax and a wick and start making them for your self at home. If we are being honest how many people actually have the time to do that? Not many, I certainly don't. Instead, I am going to give you a few tips on how to look out for candles which are more eco-friendly and friendly to your wallet.
Firstly, what is so bad about paraffin candles? Paraffin is a type of petroleum waste and as paraffin burns, it releases benzene and toluene which are toxic chemicals that are known carcinogens. In some cases breathing them in is just as bad for you as inhaling second-hand smoke. Many artificial dyes and chemicals used to scent candles are also all particularly unhealthy for you to breath in. Even though that pumpkin spiced latte candle that you wanted to burn all autumn smells oh so good, its not so good for your health. What can you find instead?
Soy wax, coconut wax, and beeswax are my favourite candles to burn. Coconut in particular because the scent seems to be more natural and pleasantly strong rather than some candles which can be overpowering. If I can find a soy and coconut blend then there is no way I can leave that candle in the store. Natural and organic-based waxes are usually the best choice as these are more sustainable and responsibly produced. Even though I have just raved about coconut wax, it tends to be the most expensive. This because it's the purist as it burns slowly and cleanly dispersing the scents a lot better. Soy wax is a renewable, clean, slow-burning type of wax that is biodegradable. It is not however the most sustainable. There are many environmental concerns around the soybean industry and some people are saying that you should avoid soy/paraffin blends. But if you are looking to buy a candle that is affordable and wanting to be more conscious a soy/paraffin blend made with essential oils is probably your best affordable option. As the soy burns cleaner than the paraffin this is more environmentally friendly than just buying paraffin chemically scented candle. If you manage to find one that is scented with essential oils this is also more ideal than a paraffin wax essential oil candle.
Finally, let's talk about beeswax! Beeswax is a clean, slow-burning natural alternative to paraffin wax. But unlike soy and coconut wax it isn't vegan friendly. However, it is biodegradable and a good substitute if you are looking to have a clean long-lasting candle at home. Beeswax is a general favourite for people trying to be more sustainable as it is very versatile for making your own reusable products such a wax wraps and even organic homemade makeup. However, unless you are always visiting a garden centre I would say finding a bee was a candle that isn't online is difficult to do.
The bottom line is people use candles all the time, but if you can find one made of coconut wax that's affordable this is the best sustainable swap. But alternatively, soy wax or soy and paraffin made with essential oil (no chemicals to scent it), and beeswax are also a good alternative. I have managed to find many lovely natural candles from TK Maxx over the years and even in Tesco. Here are some of my favourite eco-friendly candles:
1) Moroccan Mint and Pink grapefruit BOTANICA by Air wick.
£10 on Amazon and also available in Tesco and other supermarkets. This is a reasonably sustainable swap. Air Wick market this new range as "...crafted with ingredients inspired by nature, carefully sourced in a way that respects our Planet". I am putting my trust in Air wick that this is true and from what I can tell it is. They have a great range of scents too choose from and have a long burning time too! https://rb.gy/5uepad
2)Uplifting Bergamot DW Home coconut wax blend.
DW Home is one of my favourite brands to buy from TK Maxx their bergamot scents are my absolute favourite. With TK Maxx you never know what is available and they are always seasonal scents, it makes the shopping experience very exciting. https://www.dwhome.com/products/uplifting-bergamot.
3) YMing Scented Candles.
These are available on Amazon and are soy wax aromatherapy candles. I am a fan of lavender to help send me off to sleep and would recommend these as they are vegan friendly and reasonably priced at £12.59 on Amazon right now. https://rb.gy/uukebb