Are vegan candles just a marketing ploy? Are there other benefits to buying vegan candles? What should I look for when purchasing vegan candles? Let’s explore all these questions and more.
Are vegan candles just a marketing ploy?
The short answer: No!
Most candles aren’t vegan.
Here’s a little science behind the art of candle-making.
Since 1830, most candles have been made of paraffin wax, a very soft, colorless, and odorless wax made from petroleum that is solid at room temperature.
On its own, paraffin wax has a low melting point so, to provide more sturdiness, candlemakers began adding stearic acid, a hard waxy substance, similar to tallow, that allows tall candles (such as pillars) to remain upright and solid.
Stearic acid also increases the burning time and allows the candle to retain more fragrance. It can even be added to create a more opaque color.
So what’s the deal with Stearic acid?
It’s this addition to paraffin wax candles that make many candles non-vegan. Stearic acid is often derived from animal fat such as pig, cow, and sheep stomachs.
While it can be derived from plant fats as well (coconuts for example), the process yields much less stearic acid compared to the animal byproducts so it tends to be more cost-prohibitive for companies who place profits over sustainability.
What is beeswax?
Stearic acid isn’t the only ingredient to watch out for when looking for vegan candles.
Beeswax candles are very popular as natural alternatives to paraffin, however, they are not vegan. Beeswax is produced by the Apis Genus honey bees. The wax is then used by the worker bees to construct the honeycomb.
Many vegans consider beeswax and honey to be off-limits due to the collection process. To harvest the honeycombs, the bees are smoked to become more docile, and bees can be harmed in the process of scraping the honeycomb.
This is particularly true when it comes to large-scale operations, not so much with small apiaries as many beekeepers do care a great deal about their colonies.
Are there benefits to buying vegan candles?
The short answer: Yes!
There are many benefits to switching to vegan candles beyond limiting the use of animal byproducts. Did you know that paraffin candles can emit carcinogenic compounds? Because it’s derived from petroleum, paraffin wax candles aren’t the healthiest thing to inhale.
Vegan alternatives like soy candles, however, burn much cleaner (your air filter will thank you!) and also support local farmers and small businesses. Here are some other benefits of vegan candles:
- Soy is a renewable resource and non-toxic.
- Vegan candles also tend to burn longer and the leftover wax is biodegradable.
- Soy wax can be easily cleaned with soap and water.
- Vegan candles are often also more sustainable from a production standpoint, meaning fair-trade and locally sourced ingredients.
- Vegan candles release fragrances better so your home will smell amazing for longer.