Candles and leaves (eco-friendly candles)

A Guide to Buying Eco-Friendly Candles

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Switch out your old flame for something greener

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Did you know that candles, for all their pretty boxes and refreshing fragrances, can actually do more harm than good both to us and the environment? Start shopping for eco-friendly candles with our guide, which goes over all the credentials you should be checking before clicking ‘Add To Basket’. 

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A Guide to Buying Eco-Friendly Candles

Wax

Candles made it into the UK government’s 2019 Clean Air Strategy as a source of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), which can contribute to indoor pollution. While some conventional candles are made using stearin, which derives from animal or vegetable fats and isn’t too horrendously impactful on the environment. The same cannot be said for the other leading ingredient used in candle-making: paraffin.

Widely known as the highly combustible substance used to fuel jet engines and rockets, paraffin is a byproduct of crude oil that creates and releases toxic benzene and toluene chemicals – both of which are carcinogenic – when burned. Candles, which can burn for around seven to nine hours for each ounce of wax used, enable these chemicals to be released directly into your homes and your airways. It’s like turning your living room into the next miniature rocket launch pad for NASA. Breathing these candles in is as bad as inhaling second-hand smoke, so you can only imagine how millions of them could impact the environment without us realising.

More sustainable candle options will opt for natural ingredients like beeswax, coconut wax, rapeseed wax or soy wax, which are far less harmful when put to flame. When responsibly sourced and produced, these materials can make for a great sustainable candle.

Beeswax: A natural, biodegradable wax that burns slowly and naturally cleans the air by neutralising toxins. It’s also smokeless and sootless, and comes in different colours depending on what the bees it comes from have lived on. Unfortunately, however, it isn’t vegan.

Coconut wax: One of the most sustainable (and luxurious) waxes out there, it burns slowly and cleanly while distributing fragrance evenly.

Rapeseed wax: A natural, renewable and biodegradable wax that burns slower and cooler (and helps to distribute fragrance). The best place to source rapeseed is in Europe, where it’s illegal to grown GMO crops.

Soy wax: Not the most sustainable wax, but it’s natural, renewable and biodegradable and burns slowly and cleanly. There are currently concerns surrounding the soybean industry, in particular its use of pesticides and fertilisers and the resulting deforestation. Many companies may also mix soy with paraffin in their candles.

Wicks

There’s a special kind of satisfaction that comes with lighting a candle for the first time – but did you know that wicks used to be made with lead and metal? Burning either of the two can produce toxic fumes that will take up a cosy space right in the middle of your home.

The safest – and most eco-friendly – candle wicks are made from natural and clean-burning materials such as cotton, hemp or wood. Extra tip: keep your candle away from drafts to prevent it from producing soot.

Perfume

Another thing to look out for when candle shopping is artificial fragrance, which like paraffin and lead can release harmful chemicals when put under fire. Many fragrances can contain phthalates (a chemical used in all kinds of household products), which can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system if exposed to it for long periods of time. In numerous studies, phthalates has also been linked to asthma, breast cancer, neurodevelopmental issues and many other health disorders and issues.

While having one or two candles with artificial fragrances won’t do you much harm, a more ethical and greener option would be candles scented with essential oils. In opposition to synthetic fragrances, essential oils are natural extracts made from plants and flowers that can be very strong when concentrated. Small but mighty, they make a fantastic fragrance for eco-friendly candles.

Packaging

Candles (to nobody’s surprise) are one of the top gift ideas for birthdays and special occasions. However, this means that many candles now come in excessive amounts of packaging that is usually plastic-based and non-recyclable – and therefore destined for the landfill.

Simple is best when it comes to candle design: think paper labels, reusable jars and unfussy packaging (or none, if possible). Let the candle shine on its own without the added pomp of elaborate plastic packaging.

Eco-Friendly Candles to Shop Now

Get started on your collection of eco-friendly candles…

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Bamford Candles

Bamford

Explorer Candle, £100, launching 1 March, bamford.com

What Makes it Green: Hand-made in the UK in a carbon-neutral workshop, these artisan candles contain natural wax made from a combination of rapeseed, carnauba and beeswax and a lead-free cotton wick.

a sustainable candle is blown out with smoke going into the air

Know the Origin

Embers Rapeseed Wax Vegan, £20, knowtheorigin.com

What Makes it Green: You can forget the vague buzzwords of ‘pure’ and ‘natural’ with Know the Origin, which displays their credentials in no uncertain terms. Using European grown rapeseed wax (instead of the less sustainable soy wax), the candle is also still vegan.

 

IL•LUMINATE

Fig and Parsley Candle, £48, illuminatecandle.com

What Makes It Green: IL•LUMINATE makes all of its candles using a blend of beeswax, coconut wax and rapeseed wax. This candle naturally mixes fresh lemon zest and fig leaf with green cassis and willow blossom to create a fresh, comforting scent.

Organic Savanna Soy and Eucalyptus Candle (eco-friendly candles)

Organic Savanna

Soy and Eucalyptus Candle, £33.50, akojomarket.com

What Makes It Green: Organic Savanna is a social enterprise based in Thika, Kenya that produces handmade, all natural candles and skincare products. As part of its ethical promise, all Organic Savanna candles are vegan, cruelty-free, handmade, all-natural and made with locally sourced African ingredients. The brand believes products should not only be made well but should also do good and empower people, and 100% of its profits go towards creating jobs for Kenyan women and funding education for their children. 

Flickerwick Pink Grapefruit & Basil Candle (eco-friendly candles)

Flickerwick

Pink Grapefruit & Basil Candle, £32, akojomarket.com

What Makes It Green: A one-woman brand, Flickerwick creates handmade, high quality soy wax candles and room diffusers that are long-lasting and characterised by sophisticated scents. Candles blend high quality fragrance and essential oils with 100% natural bases, hand-poured into unique candle and diffuser jars. Flickerwick work with natural materials, choosing sustainable wax and cotton and wooden wicks for the key candle components.

SUN.DAY Beyond the Pines Candle (eco-friendly candles)

SUN.DAY

Beyond the Pines Candle, £26, sundayoflondon.com

What Makes It Green: All of SUN.DAY’s products are 100% free from synthetic perfumes, chemicals and paraffins. Instead, the candles are formulated with a blend of creamy coconut, palm-free plant wax and housed in apothecary jars which are produced in the UK with pure cotton wicks.

The Muses UNPLUG Candle (eco-friendly candles)

The Muses

UNPLUG Candle, £45, themuseslondon.co.uk

What Makes It Green: The Muses has created a collection of candles where are wicked, poured, labelled and finished by hand in the UK. Each candle contains 100% natural, biodegradable wax (soy, coconut, rapeseed, and beeswax), which has been obtained from renewable sources and sustainably certified. Each candle is housed in a keepsake, pure brass container, a sustainable material which can be recycled, upcycled or re-purposed for life.

Sana Jardin Revolution de la Fleur Candle (eco-friendly candles)

Sana Jardin

Revolution de la Fleur Candle, £48, sanajardin.com

What Makes It Green: Sana Jardin’s vegan candles contains 100% vegetable wax and are free of phthalates, artificial colorants, parabens and formaldehydes.

Skar Organics, Ylang Ylang Candle, Amber Jar, £40, www.skarorganics.com (eco-friendly candles)

Skär Organics

Ylang Ylang Candle, Amber Jar, £40, skarorganics.com

What Makes It Green: Skär Organics is the UK’s first and only manufacturer of certified organic candles. The Ylang Ylang candles is made using certified organic beeswax, coconut oil and a blend of three organic essential oils. All packaging is elemental chlorine free, and is either made from recycled material, or is recyclable, reusable, biodegradable or compostable.

August & Piers Darling Vessel (eco-friendly candles)

AUGUST&PIERS

Darling Vessel, £64, augustpiers.com

What Makes It Green: All candles from AUGUST&PIERS are made using a blend of soy, bee and rapeseed wax, making them completely natural and paraffin-free. Wicks are also made from cotton, and fragrances are responsibly sourced from renowned perfumers. To top it all off, packaging is FSC certified, fully recyclable and free from plastic.

Babel Candles

Babel

Koi No Yokan Candle, £23, babelcandles.co.uk

What Makes It Green: In collaboration with Ecologi, Babel will plant a tree for every order.  The ingredients are sufficiently green too: Babel uses 100% vegan biodegradable soy wax. The oils are paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. The packaging is without plastic, the front candle labels are made of biodegradable wood pulp and are fully biodegradable, and our box labels are made of recycled paper.

Sand + Paws candle

Sand + Paws

Pumpkin Spice Scented Candle, $20, sandandfoghome.com

What Makes It Green: Sand + Paws is inspired by dogs on the beach in California, and works to neutralise pet odours in the home while having as little impact on the planet as possible. A clean-burning candle through and through, this candle is made using soy wax, essential oils and features a 100 per cent cotton lead-free wick.

Eco-Friendly Candles - L:A BRUKET Grapefruit Scented Candle 260g, £53.00

L:A BRUKET

Grapefruit Scented Candle 260g, £53.00, libertylondon.com

What Makes It Green: This candle is made from organic soy wax and poured into mouth-blown glass by skilled craftsmen, and emphasises the use of natural ingredients to create high-quality organic products. L:A BRUKET also recommends you light the candle for shorter periods of time to maximise the scent and make it more long lasting.

 

Eco-Friendly Candles - Eym Soul – The Joyful One Three Wick Candle 440g

Eym

Soul – The Joyful One Three Wick Candle 440g, £55, eymnaturals.com

What Makes It Green: This candle is made locally in Britain by British manufacturers and artisans, and promises complete visibility over the manufacturing process. Eym also only uses soy wax, cotton wicks and essential oils in its candles. The glass and paper outer packaging is also sustainably sourced and British-made.

Shaku Jasmine Large Candle

Shaku

Jasmine Large Candle, £90, shaku.co.uk

What Makes It Green: This candle is made using a blend of rapeseed and coconut mineral wax, which has been hand-poured into bespoke fine bone china pots. The wick is made from cotton and all packaging is FSC certified, meaning it meets the highest environmental and social standards out there. Once the wax has melted away, the owner is left with a beautiful decorative bowl that they can use to store trinkets, stationary or even a small plant.

The Rose Tree Luxury Aromatherapy Candle (Rose Tree No. 5 - Peace)

The Rose Tree

Luxury Aromatherapy Candle (Rose Tree No. 5 – Peace), £36, therosetree.co.uk

What Makes It Green: The Rose Tree use a 100% vegetable wax blend (which is also palm free) in all of its candles, and uses essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. This candle in particular is made up of orange (organic), lemon, petitgrain, lavender (organic),  rosemary (organic), lime, cypress essential oils. It’s also vegan friendly.

Mewstone Baked Apple Pie Candle Tin

Mewstone

Baked Apple Pie Candle Tin, £12.50, themewstonecandlecompany.co.uk

What Makes It Green: Mewstone candles are made in small, hand crafted batches locally in South Devon. This candle has been made using 100% soy wax and organic cotton wicks, and contains a paraben-free, vegan friendly fragrance.

 

P.F Candle Co. No. 04 Teakwood & Tobacco Soy Candle

P.F Candle Co.

No. 04 Teakwood & Tobacco Soy Candle, £22, roseandgrey.co.uk

What Makes It Green: P.F Candle Co. makes natural candles that use 100% domestically-grown soy wax, fine fragrance oils and cotton-core wicks. Wax is hand-poured into each jar and the design is finished off with a signature kraft label and brass lid. Each candle comes in a stylish brown jar which can be reused after the candle has burned out.

Featured image: Noelle Australia, Unsplash

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