What’s a dinner party or an intimate meal without candles? There’s just something about the soft light and a real flame that has timeless appeal. They also have a comfortingly natural feel, harking back to simpler times. The trouble is that there’s nothing old-fashioned about modern candles, and not a lot that’s natural either. With eco-friendly candles you can have the atmosphere and a more authentic encounter with the ambience of candlelight.
Everyone knows that candles are made of wax. But what’s the wax made of? Most commercially produced candles are in fact made from paraffin, which is a byproduct of the refining of petroleum, or fossil fuel. That puts it firmly in the category of non-renewable resources. Gel candles are another modern take on an old product. They are made from mineral oil and polymer additives.
Even the wick in mass market candles isn’t just the innocent piece of string made from organic materials. Candle wicks are chemically treated to stop them from burning too fast. Then of course, there’s the little metal disc that grounds the wick, as well as the aluminium container, if you use tea light candles. Of course, let’s not forget the packaging used to make decorative candles look even more attractive, but often made from non-recyclable plastics and coated papers.
Finally, there’s the fragrance of scented candles, and the dyes used to make them visually appealing. Here you’re dealing with chemicals all the way down the line and when you burn them you’re releasing them all into the air you breathe. Some of those fragrances may smell good but they can be allergenic and trigger asthma attacks and migraines in susceptible individuals.
With eco-friendly candles you can avoid this unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly scenario, and it doesn’t mean you have to go back to traditional candles made from animal fat. Lots of oils and natural waxes are suitable alternatives for candle making and they are widely available.
Beeswax is a natural material that makes excellent candles, but for those who want to avoid animal products altogether there are still lots of choices. Soybean oil candles are one of the most popular. Olive oil is another option. In fact most vegetable oils make perfectly good candles that burn more cleanly and don’t deplete the dwindling supplies of oil on the planet. You can even make your own eco-friendly candles from used cooking oil if you’re a keen recycler and interested in handicrafts.
If you go that route, which could be a money saver as well as a planet saver, then you have the choice of dye-free, fragrance-free candles, or you can use vegetable dyes and your favorite essential oil according to your personal preferences. They also make great gifts.
Almost every home has candles, even if it’s only for when the power goes off. Eco-friendly candles are the thing to have in a green home, whether it’s on the dining table, round the bathtub or simply in the emergency cupboard.