That scented candle you love may not be vegan – here’s why

29 Apr 2022

@atozee profile image

candles 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.

See also: These brands are introducing vegan-friendly and sustainable furniture

candles 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.

Paraffin wax

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.

Soy wax

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.

Coconut wax

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.

candles Photo: Anna Shvets

So what makes a plant-based wax candle non-vegan?

Besides the wax, consider the anatomy of the candle in its entirety. Wicks are almost always made of cotton or wood and the scent oils can either be essential oils or a synthetic fragrance. Since the former is man made, it’s always vegan while quality essential oils are derived from botanicals.

The tricky ingredient to pay attention to however, is stearic acid, which can be derived from both plant and animal sources. This fatty acid is used in candle-making for a longer burn time and allows the candle to smell stronger, for longer.

Other names you might find on candle labels include Stearamide, Stearamine, Stearates, Stearic Hydrazide, Stearone, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearoyl Lactylic Acid, Stearyl Betaine and Stearyl Imidazoline.

When in doubt, always research the candle’s make and look for the source of stearic acid before making a purchase.

Vegan candle brands

If you’re looking for vegan candles, there’s no better place to start than searching it up on abillion for user reviews. Two well-known brands, Yankee Candle and Bath and Bodyworks already have specific candles listed thanks to our users while Harper’s Candles, a UK brand is proudly cruelty-free and vegan.

Do you have a favorite vegan-friendly scented candle brand? Comment below!

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@fulfilling profile image
fulfilling5 MONTHS AGO
This is so helpful, Zee ❤️
@chapis1028 profile image
chapis10282 MONTHS AGO
Great article thank you! I didn’t know a lot about the details of the candle 🕯 and how the majority sold are not vegan 🌱! Now I know what ingredients I need to stay away from when purchasing or even using ones that are gifted to me! 🥰💕🌱🕯
@andreadal profile image
andreadal2 MONTHS AGO
Great article. Thank you
@debc1957 profile image
debc19572 MONTHS AGO
I never knew this Thank You so much I will be very careful when buying candles in the future!