Is burning candles safe for the environment? Ethical consumers have been asking this question in recent years. Manufacturers have listened to customers and are now producing soy wax candles. But, is this alternative really any safer? Below, we will look at the four most popular candle waxes and determine whether they are eco-friendly.
Palm wax comes from African oil palm trees. It blends easily with other waxes and works to harden the candle. Palm oil is considered non-toxic when burning and is inexpensive to source. Also, this material does not melt when not in use because it can withstand high atmospheric temperatures. The problems with palm products are that their use has led to deforestation and often harvested using slave labor.
Hydrogenated soybean oil is used to make soy wax. This allows it to burn cooler and longer than other options. The benefits are many. It’s non-toxic when burning, easy to clean off surfaces since it’s water soluble, a renewable resource, and biodegradable. The issues are that more than 95 percent of the soybeans grown across the planet are Monsanto genetically-modified, soy plantations rely on deforestation, and harsh chemicals and pesticides are used to grow non-organic soy.
Paraffin wax is produced through the refining process of crude oil. The argument is that since it is a byproduct, paraffin is better to use for candles than simply discarding. It works well for many different products because of the variable melting points. There are many risks associated with using paraffin wax, such as the fact it releases benzene, toluene, and several other carcinogenic chemicals into the atmosphere. Paraffin is considered to be just as dangerous as petroleum. And, it is a non-renewable resource.
Beeswax is made from the wax excreted when workers bees eat the honey inside the hive. This is the original wax for candle making. Beeswax is not only non-toxic while burning but it also releases negative ions that remove air pollution. It won’t droop, is easily moldable, and can be used in almost any form. The biggest problems with beeswax are that it is the most expensive wax and contributes to the loss of bees, which hurts agriculture.
As you can see, none of the popular types of candle wax are completely sustainable. However, there are some less common alternatives you might be able to locate. We recommend searching for hemp wax or at least 100% organic, non-GMO soy wax candles.
Guest post by Sally Collins
About the Author
Sally Collins is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.
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