Vegan candles or conventional candles?
Let`s do a quick history lesson on candles.
Did you know that during the Roman empire, people used tallow--solid fat from animals like sheep or cows--as candles?
This saved waste, but it didn’t exactly smell great. Obviously, they were a long way from the cinnamon vanilla and pine forest candles we’re used to.
Then, the ancient Chinese empire discovered sperm whale oil and beeswax--still animal products, but better. They even used paper tubes as a container and rice paper as the burning wick. Talk about eco-packaging!
Amazingly, Indians found that burning cinnamon produced an oil they could use for candles. On the other hand, people in the Pacific Northwest discovered a small fish that makes oil which can (and was) used for candles.
In the mid-19th century, someone made paraffin wax from petroleum by-products. Shortly after, manufacturers tried other alternatives like soy wax.
My point? Since then, we’ve evolved to using candles from necessity to aesthetic reasons. We use them to set a romantic tone, to relax or to cleanse our homes.
However, to keep in line with a zero-waste lifestyle, we should keep track of what our candles are made of, how they’re packaged, and how we dispose of them. Historically, we used renewable materials like leftover animal fat or oil from plants that could be regrown.
So what’s the best choice? Before we get there, I want to explain the history and difference behind three types of candle wax.
Types of Candle Wax
Not all candle waxes are made equal.
Paraffin wax and soy wax make vegan candles. On the other hand, beeswax candles aren’t vegan.
But which is really the most eco-friendly?
Let’s break these down.
Get this: we use 4.4 million tons of paraffin wax around the world each year. Is this sustainable?
Paraffin wax was first made in 1850 when crude oil was turned into petroleum. The process separated the wax from the petroleum, leaving us with this new candle source. Why was it a hit?
It smelled better than tallow (Remember, this is animal fat!). As a wax, it’s hard, readily available, and affordable. Besides its affordability, it’s easy to make all types of candles with it. Think tea candles, prayer candles, pillar candles, and most importantly, container or jar candles.
The catch? Research has shown that burning paraffin wax emits chemicals linked to cancer, respiratory diseases, and allergies.
Admittedly, we need further research to fully understand the negative effects of paraffin wax. Despite its potential negative health effects, consider its environmental impact. In a way, using paraffin wax means you are supporting the production and use of crude oils. Some would say using leftover materials is better than wasting it, but the choice is ultimately up to you.
Yes, paraffin wax is technically cruelty-free (except to the planet!), but this doesn’t cancel out its negative impacts.
With these factors in mind, it’s up to you if you want to use paraffin wax to make your own candles or buy paraffin candles. Remember that a lot of department store candles may advertise as soy when in fact they are a mix of paraffin and soy wax.
By contrast, beeswax is a safer and more sustainable alternative. Additionally, they burn longer than other types of wax. The best part? They smell a little bit like honey when burned.
As I said, beeswax is not vegan. It’s a substance secreted by bees. Essentially, sweat is to humans as beeswax is to bees.
Fun fact: it’s actually what the honeycomb is made of. Although beeswax candles aren’t vegan candles, they are renewable and sustainable.
Most candlemakers work with ethically-sourced beeswax producers. Make sure to research your candlemaker options carefully, and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask about their beeswax source if it’s undisclosed. It’s always a good idea to support businesses with cruelty-free practices.
Bonus points if they source their wax locally!
Lastly, we have soy wax. Perhaps the most eco-friendly choice, soy wax is made of soybean oil that has hardened at room temperature. It’s renewable because it doesn’t rely on crude oils--it’s a crop.
Moreover, soy wax burns slowly and cleanly, unlike paraffin wax. If you’re a true candle enthusiast, you know how annoying it is when a candle doesn’t burn evenly. Maybe the sides don’t melt and you get stuck with an ever-receding candle with no way to burn the sides.
Yikes! This might be the case for paraffin wax candles, but not for soy.
The best part about soy wax and soy candles? All the amazing scents they infuse it with.
So let’s move forward. Let me leave you with 5 vegan candles made of soy to try out.
5 Vegan Candles for Your Home
Note: The candles on this list are unlike other popular candles, made completely of organic American soy wax and natural fragrances. Additionally, their wicks are made of natural cotton wicks.
As if these candles couldn’t get any better, they are packaged in reusable glass jars with metal lids.
This soy candle features patchouli (an herb in the mint family), amber, tobacco leaf, vanilla bean, sandalwood, and the earthy smell of Egyptian musk and palo santo, which is a tropical forest tree.
Whew. If you think this combination of scents will be an aromatic journey, you’re right. The rich undertones from the Egyptian musk and wooden fragrances combine perfectly with the sweet scent of vanilla bean, amber, and patchouli.
Good news: Each candle will burn 72-80 hours.
Want your house to smell like a cozy, friendly cafe? Perfect for rainy nights or cold early mornings, set the vibe with this candle. This candle combined vanilla with sugary caramel and cocoa, and creamy coffee to make this tantalizing candle.
Personally, this is one of my go-to gifts. Everybody loves a yummy-smelling candle. This may be an unpopular opinion, but floral candles are sometimes too strong. I highly recommend this candle if you’re browsing through vegan candles and want something you won’t get tired of.
The candles will burn between 72-80 hours.
If you’re looking for something to refresh your kitchen or lift up your spirits in the bath, your answer is here. I know there are a lot of herbal scented candles out there, but they usually end up smelling medicinal--and I don’t mean in a good way. Like in a smells-like-a-traditional-healer’s-expired-pantry type of way.
Not this candle!
This specific soy candle is a successful mix of young green fig, jasmine flowers, moss, refreshing eucalyptus, citrus lime, and vetiver. If you’re wondering, vetiver is a type of grass that resembles lemongrass. Honestly, the smell is hard to describe, but I would say it smells earthy but not musky.
With these natural fragrances, you can see why it would work for a bath or a kitchen. Get this: The 9-ounce candle will burn for 72-80 hours.
The candle smells like the holidays in the middle of a forested hike in Yosemite. It’s majestic, nostalgic, and cheerful all in one.
Here’s the fragrance breakdown. The base is made of moss, sandal- and cedarwood, musk. Its middle scent profile includes cypress wood, lemon, and sweet but spicy cinnamon. To top it off, it features the holiday-evoking scents of pine needles, evergreen, spruce, and spearmint.
Just think: you can have Christmas in July. For the actual holiday season, impress guests and complement the merry atmosphere with this hand-made vegan soy candle. The 9-ounce candle will burn for 72-80 hours.
Lastly, I recommend this soy wax candle that has a luxurious fragrance, blooming with neroli blossoms, citrus peels, and honeycomb.
Our exotic neroli candle lights up a room with its sweet, floral aroma.
Top notes of bitter orange and eucalyptus with middle notes of floral orange blossom, tangerine, honey and base notes of grapefruit and musk to create a powerful, lasting scent.
The 9-ounce candle will burn for 72-80 hours.
Need one last reason to convince yourself to try out these soy candles? They’re completely cruelty-free and toxin-free. We support this company because they put extreme care and attention to each batch of candles. They even have suggestions on how to reuse your jars so we don’t waste any extra resources.
Because these vegan candles come in different scents you can easily try out more than one at a time. Not satisfied? Try gifting it to a friend or family member--we won’t tell! And I promise you they’ll be grateful you recommended such an eco-friendly and high-quality vegan candle.
Let us know which scent is your favorite or if you want us to consider stocking a different one--we welcome recommendations.