Are candles bad for the environment?

Climate Real Talk Team

Updated on:

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission on qualifying purchases if you purchase a product through a link on our website at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Candles are bad for the environment only if they are produced using non-sustainable materials like paraffin wax or gel. This is because they release soot into the environment when burned. Additionally, using chemical-laden cotton wicks and artificial scents can also make candles bad for the environment. 

With climate change on everyone’s mind, we should all step up to find out how we can have the least amount of impact on the environment. Most of the time, this means giving up some luxuries we didn’t know were bad for the environment.

When marketing companies use words like “natural” and “green” all the time, it can be hard to know if candles are bad for the environment and what other options might work better.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the components in candles that can help us understand if it is great for the environment or not. Keep reading. 


What Can Make candles Bad for the environment?

Burning anything always creates a chance that the smoke can hurt the environment. Even when you burn firewood, you add carbon dioxide to the air. Any material that is burned gives off some pollutants that could be harmful to the health and the environment; however, some appear safer than others.

The fumes from a candle are caused by the burning of the chemicals that make up the wax, its scent, and its wick. Putting any fumes into the air will hurt the environment in the long run. The choice of wax, on the other hand, is one of the most important factors when it comes to the environmental impacts of burning candles.

Different types of candle wax

1. Paraffin wax

The most common type of candle wax is paraffin wax. It comes as a by-product of petroleum after the refining of crude oil. This part of the oil is at least not thrown away, but in the long run, it isn’t sustainable.

If you want to make scented candles with a lot of colours, using paraffin wax is the best bet because it holds colours and scents very well. It is a very versatile wax that can be used to make all kinds of candles, from jar candles to taper candles and pillar candles. 

You Might Also Like:   15 Non-toxic Cookware Brands For A Healthy Kitchen

The major downside of this wax is that it gives off volatile organic compounds when you burn it. 

Paraffin wax candles
Paraffin wax causes the release of soot which is bad for the environment.

3. Coconut wax

Candles can also be made from coconut wax. Coconut wax is a sustainable, vegan, and eco-friendly wax made from the coconut plant. It doesn’t make much soot when it burns, so it’s safe for your home. Also, it burns slowly and evenly. Even though it costs more, it holds scents well and is a good choice for making container candles.

4. Palm wax

In recent years, palm wax has become a common choice for making candles because it burns cleanly and is good for the environment. Palm wax is very expensive compared to other types of wax, especially paraffin wax. It does, however, make good candles that burn for a long time. Palm wax is a great choice for making scented candles because it holds scents well. It is also a strong, firm, and long-lasting wax, which makes it great for candles that stand on their own.

5. Soy wax

Soy wax is 100% natural, vegan, and good for the environment. It holds scents very well, but it’s a little harder to colour than paraffin or beeswax. Most waxes burn faster and messier than a soy candle.

6. Gel wax

Gel is made of mineral oils and resins, and it’s a great choice for candles in clear containers. You can put small things like dried flowers, seashells, or berries in the containers before you pour in the gel, and they’ll stay visible as the gel hardens.

Gel candles give off a very bright light, almost twice as bright as a regular wax candle. They also burn very slowly. Again, they burn for almost twice as long as a regular wax candle, but as they burn, they give off soot like paraffin candles.

2. Bees wax

Beeswax has been one of the most popular waxes that have been used for making candles for hundreds of years. It has a light honey scent and a golden colour that makes it easy to spot.

Beeswax candles also last the longest and burn with a warm flame that doesn’t make any smoke, which is good for your home and the environment. Because beeswax drips very little, it is best for making pillar and taper candles. 

Are candles toxic?

Some candles could be dangerous, as was already said. Benzene and toluene can come out of paraffin candles. Toluene is harmful to both plants and sea life. Smog can be made when benzene mixes with other chemicals in the air.

Even scented candles usually only give off a small number of harmful chemicals because they are so small.

Essential oils, which come from plants and can be made, again and again, are used to scent many candles. Researchers also found that people who were exposed to lemon oil had less brain power. This is something to keep in mind, even though essential oil candles may not be dangerous for humans.

When it comes to synthetic fragrances, brands don’t always explain what they mean, so it’s hard to tell if they’re dangerous. VOCs are dangerous because they can irritate the eyes and lungs, and some of them are thought to cause cancer. Studies have also shown that mussels and other sea creatures can’t handle synthetic musk.

The colour of a candle can also tell you if it’s dangerous. In large amounts, this compound is poisonous to animals and can cause tremors, irregular heartbeats, pain, death, and more. The EPA also thinks it might cause cancer in people.

How wax additives Harm the environment

A big problem with scented products is that they often have “fragrance” in them. This ingredient’s name is just a cover for a bunch of chemicals that are mixed together to make a smell.

You Might Also Like:   17 Sustainable Non Toxic Bed Frames You Can Get

In the United States, there are no laws that require companies to list ingredients on products like candles. This means that manufacturers can put almost anything they want in their products.

When you light a candle, it’s a big problem not to know exactly what you’re setting on fire. How can you tell if a product is good for the environment if you don’t know what’s in it? When this happens, you need to be made aware of the kind of gases a candle is giving off.

Also, be careful with candles that say they are “natural.” There are no rules about what makes a product “natural,” so a word like this on a label can often be misleading.

Usually, candles that smell natural will say that they are scented with essential oils. Since these are made from natural plant materials, they are much better for the environment than the other option.

Do keep in mind that it takes a lot of raw plant material to make pure essential oil and that agriculture has an effect on the environment. Use with care!

How candles affect the environment

Candles can affect the environment in a number of ways. Listed below are some of the major ways that candles can negatively affect the environment.

1. they Can add to deforestation

Even though candles are often made from sources that can be used again and again, this doesn’t mean that they have a small effect on the environment. When land is cleared to make room for commercial farming because of the high demand for coconut, soy, or palm wax, this can lead to deforestation.

Usually, soy, coconut, and palm plantations are mono-crops, which means that they only grow those crops. Monocultures are bad for the environment because they cut down on biodiversity and mess up the ecosystem.

When there is less biodiversity, plants are more likely to get sick because other plants and animals can naturally fight off pests. This means that a disease could easily wipe out a lot of these crops, making a lot of waste.

2. they Can cause land pollution from minefields

Paraffin candles are made from by-products of petroleum, which is not a renewable resource and must be mined or drilled for.

Mining not only pollutes the air, water, and soil, but it also hurts the environment physically and can lead to soil erosion at mine sites. It’s not just the candle itself that has an effect on the environment, but also the way it’s packaged. Candles are often sold in a small metal or glass jars. These things can’t be made again.

Petroleum mining

3. they Can add to climate change

Mines are where metal comes from. About 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by making metal. Both glass and metal can be reused, which is a good thing.

Unlike plastic, they can be used over and over again without getting worse. Recycling can cut down on the amount of new glass and metal that needs to be made, and it usually uses less energy than making something from scratch.

Turning glass and metal into things that can be used takes a lot of time and can be power-consuming, but recycling still takes energy. Since most of the energy used in the world comes from sources that don’t keep on giving, there are better solutions than this.

Most wicks are made of paper, cotton, or wood, all of which are renewable and break down over time. Hardwood and softwood, on the other hand, take 50 to 100 years and 40 years to grow up, so the fact that a resource is renewable doesn’t mean it’s easy to get more of it.

When it comes to climate change, trees are very important because they store carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. If there are fewer mature trees, the greenhouse effect can be made worse.

You Might Also Like:   Earth Breeze Laundry Sheets: A Sustainable and Convenient Solution for Your Laundry Needs

4. they Can harm biodiversity 

Concerns have also been raised about the environment because cotton crops (which are used to make candle wicks) are treated with about 5% of all pesticides and 10% of all insecticides. For example, pesticides can stop bees from having babies and make it hard for adult bees to remember things.

Aside from this, cotton is a crop that needs a lot of water. Only 1 kg of cotton needs more than 2,500 gallons of water to grow.

Pesticides and insecticides can hurt wildlife, like bees and butterflies, and make the environment dirty.

Are there environmentally friendly candles?

Yes, there are eco-friendly candles. These are candles made using sustainably sourced, eco-friendly materials. 

Eco-friendly candles are made using sustainably sourced natural wax and wicks. They are also devoid of artificial scents that could be harmful. To scent eco-friendly candles, using essential oils are more eco-friendly.

Finally, eco-friendly candles make use of sustainable packages or come without any packaging at all. 

Beeswax candles

Also read: Best 10 Eco-friendly Dish Soap

The best candles for the environment

The most eco-friendly candle will be made from materials that can be grown again, like soy, coconut, palm, or beeswax.

The wick should also be made of a material that can be grown back or broken down, like cotton, wood, or paper. Try to stay away from candles with artificial colours and scents. Choose candles that don’t come in any cup or jar to cut down on waste.

Final words

Candles do come at an environmental cost. Paraffin wax, made from petroleum, releases greenhouse gases and is used to make traditional candles.

Even though every candle can be bad for the environment in some way, if you really want to buy and burn one, choose one made of soy or local beeswax and scented with 100% essential oils. Just make sure to maintain safety to avoid accidents.

Also, make sure it comes in a glass jar and that the wick is made of organic cotton. This is the best way to enjoy the glow, warmth, and smell of a candle while having the least amount of impact on the environment.

Leave a Comment