Photo: Anna Shvets
Scented candles are unrivaled when it comes to creating coziness. They bring stale spaces to life with a warm glow and a comforting fragrance.
But you know what would make your living space cozier? If it was vegan.
Yes, unless that scented candle you own is specifically labeled vegan, it may have been made with animal derivatives. Even soy wax candles – common as they are in the market today – are not always vegan.
Manufacturers sometimes introduce animal-derived additives to increase their products’ burn time. It doesn’t help too, that unlike food products, candle makers are not required by law to list all the ingredients.
So how does one tell if a candle is vegan or not? Here’s our guide.
Photo: Oyster Haus
Let’s talk about wax
The bulk of a candle’s makeup is wax and two varieties are made specifically from animal products.
Tallow is animal fat and it was the source of candle-making since Roman times. The fat is sourced from around an animal’s kidneys – mostly sheep, cows and sometimes deer. While it’s rare that you’d find a candle made from tallow these days, it has been seeing a resurgence especially amongst small candle-makers, particularly in regions with access to farmland.
Beeswax was the most common material in candle-making before the arrival of soy wax. As its name suggests, it is derived from beehives and is thus, not vegan.
First the good news: paraffin wax is vegan and the most affordable of all wax types. Unfortunately, it is also carcinogenic as it is made from petroleum. Burning it releases harmful chemicals into the air, which makes it as terrible for your health as it is for the planet. It may be cost effective but it is by no means sustainable.
On its own, soy wax is vegan as it is extracted from the oils of pressed soybeans. There are concerns that soy as a crop is heavily genetically modified and its cultivation requires pesticides and fertilizers. To err on the safe side, look for soy wax from organic sources.
Are coconuts a gift to mankind? Besides being a delicious source of food, its oils have multiple applications including in candlemaking. It burns slower than other types of waxes and emits none or very little smoke – making it the ideal material for vegan candles.
Photo: Anna Shvets