You probably like candlelight as much as I do. I love to light candles in my home, especially on dark autumn and winter days. I guess most people do. Yet did you ever give it much thought, how your candles are made? And what ingredient are used to make your candles? I have to admit, I never really did, until Palm Done Right brand partner Way Out Wax launched their organic palm wax candles.
Although my candles burned fast, dripped excessively and released black smoke, I still continued my routine candle buying behavior. When I ran out of supplies, I just bought a new stack of candles rather mindlessly. Working with Way Out Wax and talking to New York based candle makers KEAP, made me dig into the candle industry.
Wax is the largest component of candles. It is the fuel that allows them to burn. The candle sector relies heavily on paraffin wax for candle production. It is widely available, has great production compatibility, and it is cheap. Globally 77% of candles are made using paraffin wax.
Paraffin is a by-product of the petroleum industry, obtained as a solid residue from the fractional distillation of crude oil. Paraffin wax doesn’t burn clean and produces black soot. Though paraffin candles are likely not to create significant health hazards, it is said to release toxic fumes when burned. Even though the exact health effects of paraffin wax are not entirely clear, its environmental impact is less ambiguous. It is linked to one of the world’s most destructive industries. Crude oil, the origin of paraffin wax, is highly unsustainable and has been a cause of large-scale greenhouse gas emissions and many environmental calamities.
Clean and green wax
There are plenty of green alternatives for candle making, offering an environmental solution to the non-renewable fossil fuel source of paraffin. Producing clean and green candles is as easy as swapping out unsustainable materials for natural ones. A growing number of candle makers are using these sustainable ingredients, like beeswax and various vegetable oil-based waxes, to make their products.
In North America, soy wax has become more popular in candle making due to its natural properties. Palm wax also offers a sustainable alternative to paraffin. The advantage of palm wax is that it has similar burn quality as that of paraffin and has excellent compatibility with fragrance and essential oils. But, crucial, when replacing paraffin with palm wax, is knowing its source. It is imperative that the palm wax comes from sustainable, ethical and traceable sources, where organic practices are used, forest and wildlife are protected, and local farmers and communities are supported.
What you can do
To drive the candle sector to increase the use of natural waxes, we need to support candle makers that are leading the way. We need to reward the entrepreneurship, energy and enthusiasm of a growing number of small manufacturers that are sprouting from North America to Australia, from Japan to Europe, and who are making their mark by choosing clean, green and ethical ingredients to create their beautiful products.
Now that I am aware of the impact of the candle industry, there is no turning back for me. I have committed myself to only using clean and green candles in my home. And that comes at a cost, but one I am willing to make for the health of my family and the planet. Your choice matters too. Say yes to clean candles.
Palm Done Right’s #CleanCandleCommitment campaign raises awareness for the importance of using natural waxes in candles. It is a call to action for consumers and manufacturers to commit to using and making clean, green and ethical candles.
Check our stories about how palm oil can be done right: www.palmdoneright.com
Monique van Wijnbergen is Sustainability and Corporate Communications Director at Natural Habitats Americas
Natural Habitats Americas is a company fully committed to the sustainable production of organic and fair trade palm oil. She is also a spokesperson for Palm Done Right, an international campaign on a mission to change the conversation around palm oil and to advocate palm can be grown for good.