What are the best candles for the dark winter season?
Today there are many candles to choose from on the market, but the ones we know most are candles made of paraffin. These candles are found in most stores and are often quite cheap. Unfortunately, they are also the least sustainable candles there are. All candles soot and therefore release chemicals. Some candles soot more and others less. Paraffin candles soot black or dark, others soot light so it is not as noticeable. Candles that soot less are certainly the healthier and more environmentally friendly candles to choose!
Here are the basics that I think every consumer should know about candles, and a bit about what we do at EcoEgo:
Paraffin is a petroleum product that is a byproduct from the refining of fossil fuel raw oil. When you burn paraffin candles, the temperature is not high enough to burn certain chemicals such as benzene and toluene away. Research shows that these chemicals may be carcinogenic and cause asthma. Other chemicals are released when you burn paraffin candles, including formaldehyde and naphthalene. The dark soot particles can also affect indoor air quality and health and can lead to material damage to surfaces (walls, ceiling). Health risk is not great when you burn a single candle once in a while, but the risk increases by burning of large quantities over time.
So what can you do?
What does "sustainable" mean when we talk about candles? For us, this means several things: sustainable materials, sustainable and ethical production, a healthier indoor climate and good quality.
Pure vegetable stearin and beeswax from controlled sources!
Beeswax candles are by far the most sustainable. Beeswax is a natural byproduct of beekeeping and honey production. The wax doesn’t have to be processed like other wax types. It is just melted and formed into candles. This saves a lot of resources in production and the wax and candles can be produced locally. Beeswax candles are more expensive than other candles, but are the most sustainable, burn beautifully and smell a bit of honey. However, they are not suitable for vegans.
My assessment is that 100% plant-based stearin candles from controlled sources are the best "all around" sustainable candle. They can be molded into all shapes and sizes. They burn nicely, are a healthier alternative, and they have a reasonable price. You just have to choose the right wax source for candle.
Most often, plant-based stearin comes from palm oil. The palm oil industry is known for the role it plays in deforestation of rainforest, especially in areas that are habitat for orangutans and have great biodiversity in the East. It is important that if you buy plant-based candles, the oil source is sustainable! The closest you get to a sustainable production is to find palm oil from certified production. One should look for an RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certification, not just membership! There is now also certified organic plant wax from controlled cultivation areas on the market. Ask your manufacturers, suppliers and shops if they can trace back to their sources of raw materials!
Why not just "pure stearin"?
Most candles that are sold as "pure stearin" are derived from animal fats/waxes or a mixture of animal and plant sources. These candles soot less than paraffin and do not emit the same amount of hazardous chemicals. However, it takes a significantly greater amount of resources for the production of animal raw materials than for plant raw materials. Most likely, you can’t verify that the animal raw materials are derived from organic or other ethical/sustainable production.
Why is a Swan-certified candle not necessarily the best?
The Nordic Swan mark on a candle requires that it is at least 90% pure stearin. Only 90%! The remainder can be paraffin. One supplier/producer writes proudly on their website that their Swan-certified candles are 96% pure stearin (animal) and only 4% paraffin. 90% or 96%! It is simply not good enough!
Soy candles are described as a very sustainable candle. One often forgets that there are many sources of soy. Soya cultivation is also known for destroying rainforest areas. Soy is often a GMO crop. Soy wax is soft, which means that soy candles are most often found in a glass and not as pillar candles or tapers unless soy wax is blended with something else (which could be less desirable like paraffin). There are many soy candles on the market but there is not a large selection of certified organic, GMO free soy candles, made of raw materials are guaranteed not to come from rainforest areas. There might be a little production in the U.S.
Greener candles from EcoEgo:
EcoEgo - Green Living Made Easy is a proud supplier of 100% plant stearin candles and beeswax candles, which are among the most sustainable on the market. At EcoEgo we have found candles using only palm oil from sustainable palm production and beeswax.
Good reasons to buy candles at EcoEgo:
Natural and sustainable plant-based raw materials - from 100% plant wax from certified production in Asia under the RSPO guidelines (RSPO - Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).
Certified ORGANIC plant wax from sustainable production in Central and South America.
Beeswax and candles from the controlled production using solar and wind energy.
No heavy metals.
For each candle is paid a donation by the manufacturer for projects that protect nature and rainforests.
Better indoor climate. Soot less. No petroleum products.
CO2 neutral transport (offset).