Recently I realised I needed to buy some more candles, I’ve even been looking into making my own soy candles and whilst doing some research I started to wonder, are soy candles bad for the environment? In summary, this is what I found out.
As a general rule soy candles are much less harmful to the environment than other candle types such as paraffin which tends to release more soot. A candle made from 100% soy wax with a natural wick and scented with essential oils is one of the most eco-friendly candles you can buy today.
Let’s get further into the detail.
What Environmental Concerns Should We Consider
When we think about candles and environmental concerns ultimately we need to think about 4 main things:
- What the product is made from
- How the product and its ingredients are made
- How the product is packaged
- How the product is used or consumed
What are Soy Candles Made From?
Natural soy candles are made from soy wax, a natural ingredient made from soybeans.
In addition to the wax itself all candles, whether they are soy or not, require a wick.
Optional ingredients include dyes and fragrances such as essential oils.
Handmade soy candles often come in glass jars.
How is Soy Wax Made?
Soy wax is made from soybean oil, which is extracted from soybeans and then refined.
The refined soybean oil is then heated to a high temperature until it becomes a liquid.
When the liquid has cooled, the wax can be separated from the oil through filters.
How sustainable is soybean farming?
Soybeans are one of the most important crops in the world.
They are grown in many different countries depending on the climate and the available resources and they can be used in a variety of ways.
Soybean farming is a high environmental and sustainable form of agriculture. However, as with any large-scale crop production, we need to be careful that deforestation is not happening during production.
What are Candle Wicks Made From?
Candle wicks are made from a variety of materials including cotton, paper, metal or wood.
The type of material that is used will depend on the specific candle.
The most common type of candle wick is cotton. This material is often used because it is inexpensive and easy to find. It can also be easily cut with a pair of scissors. However, the downside to using cotton is that it burns quickly and unevenly which can lead to sooty or charred candles.
For environmental reasons, you must avoid candles that have a metal or lead wick.
Candles that are most environmentally friendly have wicks that are made from sustainable cotton, wood or hemp so look out for these materials on the candles’ ingredients list.
How are Soy Candles Packaged?
Handmade soy candles are usually packaged in either tin or glass jars.
Glass jars are recyclable and are widely accepted by your local recycling centre or bottle bank.
The recycling process for glass can be more complex than other materials because it is more difficult to separate the different types of glass however the key point here is that there is no waste.
Candle tins are becoming more and more popular among candle makers. Aesthetically they’re a great way to package candles but there are some environmental benefits to using this material.
Firstly metal is widely recyclable and many candle makers use the recycled metal tin to showcase their products. In addition to being recycled, candle tins are generally lighter than glass jars so whilst you may not see the difference in shipping weight when travelling back from your local candle store the manufacturers that are moving hundreds if not thousands of products a month will absolutely see the economic and environmental benefits.
How Eco Friendly are Soy Candles When Burnt?
Because candles made from 100% soy contain natural ingredients they are much more environmentally friendly than other candles such as those made from paraffin.
So whilst burning anything is not ideal for our health or our environment soy candles emit much less soot and no toxic fumes when burnt.
One other clear advantage of soy candles is that they have a very low melting point making them burn for much longer than traditional candles.
How Different are Soy Candles Compared to Paraffin Candles
A paraffin candle is a type of candle that is made from paraffin wax and a wick, which has been dipped in the melted wax.
Though they have become less popular, some people still light these candles for the ambience and scent.
However, burning these candles produces some toxic chemicals including soot, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
Other pollutants in these candles include microscopic soot particles, carbon monoxide, ethylene oxide and benzene.
The amount of toxins produced depends on many factors such as how long the candle is lit and how large the candle is.
Candle smoke contains over 50% more air pollution than cars.
The amount of pollutants depends on what kind of wax or wick are used to make the candles as well as elevation and temperature.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International Candle Association, which is also a non-profit organisation, both agree that consumers should avoid burning candles for several hours at a time to minimize the number of pollutants released into the air,
Are Yankee candles bad for the environment
Yankee Candle has been accused of not being environmentally friendly for several reasons. The amount of plastic used in packaging, the amount of wax that is wasted, and the amount of time that is spent burning candles to have them melt down to nothing.
Are beeswax candles bad for the environment?
Beeswax candles are traditional and eco-friendly. They are made from a natural wax that has been harvested from the honeycomb of a bee hive. Beeswax candles do not contain any artificial ingredients or chemicals, making them a healthier alternative to other types of candles.
Are soy candles safe for dogs?
As soy candles are made from natural ingredients they are considered safe for dogs however there are things to consider when burning any candles around dogs. We wrote an article all about Are Soy Candles Safe for Dogs which I’d encourage you to read next.
I hope I’ve gone some way to answer the question are soy candles bad for the environment?
Soy candles are so much better for your health and the environment in so many ways than more traditional paraffin candles making them a great addition to any household.
However, if you’re looking for a more natural candle, beeswax is an option for you. Beeswax is made from bees that collect honey from flowers and trees in their hives and then turn it into wax by using their wings and abdomens to create the honeycomb structure inside their hives.
Of course, beeswax candles are not vegan and so not for everyone.
It would be great to hear from you. Have you switched to more eco-friendly soy candles? Are you keen to switch but not sure if you’ll like soy or beeswax candles?
Please do make time to leave me a comment below.