Candles can change the atmosphere of a place completely. Available in different sizes, textures, shapes and scents, candles make the perfect gift for every occasion. People relish their fragrances on a sweet little evening date or to relax in their bedrooms before sleep or even at a party or a cosy get together.
Candles instantly lift the mood of the space and fill it with unique and positive energies that freshen the body and mind. They transform the aura of a room or a space completely. Candle making is not new but has been prevalent for ages.
It is interesting to know that Egyptians first used candles in 3000 BC. They have evolved and come in all price ranges and are readily available. However, most of us will be surprised to know that these cute candles are harmful to the environment and human health.
Traditional candles are made from paraffin and derived from petroleum, precisely crude oil, and they release toxic chemicals and fumes when burned.
In 2019, the UK government’s Clean Air Strategy declared candles a source of non-methane volatile organic compounds or NMVOCs that are bad for the environment and human health and cause indoor pollution.
Burning candles made from paraffin wax is equivalent to burning fossil fuels at your home. Also, the fragrances of candles contain phthalates connected with numerous respiratory issues and excessive, non-recyclable and non-biodegradable packaging. All these factors make conventional candles a detrimental product that hurts the environment.
We might think, what can a simple wax and wick do? Well, a lot of research has shown otherwise. Candles are not good and have many problems.
Burns Fossil Fuels
Candles made from paraffin produce many by-products after they are burned. The major gas produced is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Paraffin is derived from petroleum, fossil fuel and a non-renewable source. Hence, candles leave behind a significant carbon footprint.
Research by the American Chemical Society found that paraffin scented candles cause cancer if they are used daily or regularly. Hence, it is important to opt for sustainable or eco-friendly candles.
Candles produce soot that darkens the nearby walls where they are placed. This soot can also irritate people with sensitive respiratory systems. Also, fragrant and scented candles are quite harmful because they release toxic chemicals like benzene that is a reason for neurological disorders.
The candles derive their scent from a chemical called Phthalates that disrupts the body’s hormones creating an imbalance in the system. They are also not healthy if inhaled.
Toxic and Wicked Wicks
Most candles have wicks that contain lead and zinc. These wicks also release harmful gases when the candle is burned.
It is essential to look at the packaging a product comes in before purchasing it. Most brands have started using sustainable packaging to improve brand image in the market.
Conventional candles come in a large amount of fancy packaging that is pleasing to the eyes but not beneficial for anything else as it ultimately ends up in the dustbin, leading to waste generation. Plastic candle packaging is extremely harmful to marine life, especially. Hence, it should be avoided at all costs.
Opting for Eco-Friendly Candles
Since traditional candles have so many drawbacks, it is best to go for sustainable candles made of soy or beeswax and have a low environmental impact.
Soy candles are made from soybean oil that is renewable and biodegradable. Soybean plants belong to the legume family that fixes nitrogen in the soil. Soy candles are free from chemicals and cheap compared to conventional paraffin-based candles. Also, soy candles burn longer than usual candles. They also burn cleanly and do not release large amounts of soot produced from usual candles. Hence, they are entirely eco-friendly.
You can use many ways to make your eco-friendly candles, or you could use one of the DIY kits available in the market.
A website called ‘ Soy Wax Candles’ provides advice and instructions to novice candle makers. The website also allows people to upload pictures of their hand-made candles and share their candle-making ideas with others. The website mentions that container candles are perfect for newbies because it does not require any mould, and numerous types of containers can be used for the candle. Small or large, in any shape, you can make any kind of candle from your creative imagination.
Making Eco-Friendly Candles
Before going to the procedure, let us look at the materials you would require for making your eco-friendly candles.
Deciding on the Type of Wax
Firstly, you have to decide which type of candle wax you want to make candles. You can go for beeswax that is eco-friendly but slightly expensive.
Beeswax is a clean and eco-friendly, naturally sourced wax. It is light yellow and smells like honey. It is sustainable and biodegradable, so it is best for the environment. It also burns for a long time, but it does not remain fragrant for long and also it is not vegan.
Soy wax is also popular and made from soybean oil. However, it is not sustainable given unsustainable agricultural methods employed in growing soy.
Coconut wax is the most sustainable option. It is 100% pure and burns for a long time while radiating a mild and relaxing fragrance. However, it has a low melting point, so it needs to be mixed with some other wax to be expensive for some people.
Choosing the Candle Wick
When choosing a candle wick, you can go for organic cotton or even hemp-made wicks, as most usual wicks have chemicals in them. You can also buy wooden or softwood wicks as they produce a crackling sound when burnt. So you can close your eyes and imagine a real log fire as these wicks smell exactly rich as that, giving you a comfy feeling. These wicks are perfect for winter use.
It would be best to consider the diameter and stiffness of the wick as it decides the size and duration of the candle flame.
Choosing the Right Oil for Your Candle
It is advised to use different essential oils, or you can make your fragrance using flowers or keep your candles fragrant-free. After all, it is not only about the smell, but candles also add an aesthetic value to the homes.
Also, leaves, petals, and flowers can decorate candles. Many people like to change their candles according to the season so that you can go for cinnamon, orange, clove, and pine needle for the winter season. In spring, you can use geranium and lavender petals. In summers, orange, lemongrass, peppermint are perfect, and cardamom or nutmeg is best for autumn scented candles.
Choosing Containers and Colours
Vibrant colours and textures can be added to candles by using natural colours such as pigments extracted from plants and animals. These are better than artificially made dyes.
You can use any jars or containers for your candles, but they should be heatproof and should not crack with hot melted wax. You can go for glass jars or old candle jars, tins, plant pots, old used teacups and even ice trays.
Procedure for Making Hand-Made Eco-Friendly Candles
By Following this Method, You Can Make 2 Candles
- Choose your wax, for example, beeswax and take it out in a big heat-resistant bowl. Then pour ½ cup of coconut oil in it and mix both of them gently.
- Now keep the bowl on the boiling pan so that the wax can melt. Never heat the wax directly on the stove.
- As you melt the beeswax and coconut oil mixture, you can focus on the wicks. Thread the wicks through metal tabs and tighten the wick and tab them using pliers or scissors.
- Add a folded portion of the tape to the bottom of the metal tab and fix it to the jar bottom using glue. You can even use a pencil to fix it securely. This will fixate the wick in one position so it does not float on the top when the candle wax is poured.
- As you have prepared the wick and beeswax has also melted, then pour in the blend of essential oils. As beeswax does not remain fragrant for a long time, you can add 25 drops (1ml) for every 1oz of beeswax. Then stir this mixture thoroughly.
- Now pour this mixture into the candle containers. You can wrap the wick around a pencil to keep the wick fixed until the wax has dried.
- If you want to add any flowers or petals, you can add them when the wax is hot or you could wait till the wax has cooled down. This will make your candles beautiful and eye-catching.
- When the wax has dried, then trim the extra wick and your eco-friendly candle is ready to burn.
Eco-friendly and biodegradable candles are much better than traditional candles. They do not harm the environment and are aesthetically pleasing as well. They are naturally fragrant and, when burned, do not release harmful pollutants. They also act as a relaxant and are not bad for health. So next time you make candles, make sure to go for eco-friendly candles and now you know how easy it is. Good luck with your candle-making!