Candles can elevate any space, offering a cosy atmosphere on the coldest of nights. Choosing the right one can feel like a minefield with the long list of options out there. When it comes down to it, it may seem confusing over what counts, so what are vegan candles?
What are vegan candles?
Animal byproducts can include stearic acid, tallow, and beeswax. If a candle is used with this ingredient, they're not considered vegan. Those following a vegan lifestyle choose to avoid animal derivatives in food, beauty, home decor and skincare. However, some can face an ethical dilemma if they're not sure their traditional candles are indeed vegan and safe.
But there are lots of vegan-friendly alternatives out there, using plant-based waxes and cruelty-free ingredients for vegan soy candles and vegetarian diets and beliefs.
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Is beeswax vegan?
Beeswax is a substance produced by honey bees and is commonly used in the candle-making industry. However, when it comes to the vegan diet and lifestyle, the question of whether beeswax is considered vegan-friendly is a subject of debate.
For many vegans, the key principle is to avoid using any animal-derived ingredients, which includes beeswax. While beeswax itself is not directly obtained by harming bees, there are ethical considerations that lead some vegans to exclude it from their diet and lifestyle choices.
The primary concern revolves around the exploitation of bees in the beeswax industry. Bees are often subjected to labour-intensive practices, such as artificial breeding, wing-clipping, and hive manipulation. These practices can cause distress and harm to the bees, going against the principles of veganism, which aim to avoid animal exploitation.
Additionally, beeswax production can have negative impacts on bee populations and their natural habitats. The use of commercial beehives and agrochemicals can contribute to the decline of bee populations, which play a crucial role in plant pollination and maintaining ecosystem balance.
When facing an ethical dilemma, it's down to a personal choice on whether you want this type of candle. You can also check small businesses that sell beeswax candles on their practices to ensure they are cruelty-free and ethically made.
Need to relax? Our Lavender Soy Candle will help you unwind on any evening.
How is beeswax made?
Beeswax is a natural substance produced by worker bees in the hive, primarily through the secretion from the mirror glands located on the underside of their abdomen. This process begins when the worker bees consume honey and pollen, which stimulates the wax glands to secrete small flakes of wax.
The bees then chew the wax flakes in their mouths, softening and moulding it into a pliable consistency. They mix the beeswax with pollen and propolis, a resinous substance obtained from tree buds, to increase its stickiness and strength.
Once the bees have prepared the wax, they use it to construct honeycombs within their hives. These honeycombs serve as storage areas for honey, pollen, and larvae. The bees produce an abundance of beeswax, and to collect it, beekeepers remove the honeycombs from the hives.
During this process, the beekeepers cut off the caps made of wax that seal the honeycomb cells. The honeycombs are then melted, and the mixture is filtered to separate the beeswax from impurities such as bee parts and pollen debris. The purified beeswax can be further processed and used for various applications, including making traditional candles, cosmetics, and household products.
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The commercial impact of beeswax
Beeswax has a significant commercial impact due to its versatile applications and its crucial role in the wax industry. This natural substance is used in a wide range of goods, making it an essential ingredient in various industries.
Beeswax candles are known for their clean burn and warm golden glow. They are favoured over paraffin candles, which are petroleum-based and have negative environmental impacts.
Apart from traditional candles, beeswax is also used in packaging materials, including food wraps and containers. Its natural antibacterial and moisture-resistant properties make it an excellent alternative to petroleum-based plastic packaging.
In addition, beeswax is a valued ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products. Its emollient properties help moisturise and protect the skin, making it a common ingredient in lotions, lip balms, and hair products.
Looking for something with a punch? Our Lemongrass & Persian Lime soy candle has a great zesty scent.
Is soy vegan?
Soy is considered vegan as it is derived from plants and does not contain any animal ingredients. It is a popular protein source for vegans due to its nutritional value and versatility in plant-based diets. However, it's also used in candles.
In regards to the environment, it's considered to be better than paraffin wax candles, as it grows before it can be harvested.
Although it's important to talk about like most farming around the world, there are also concerns about production. Similarly to palm oil, there are concerns production could affect animals within the environment with large farmland for the ingredients. However, again, like palm oil, the raised worries push farmers to ethical and sustainable practices to ensure this doesn't happen.
One way to help you choose when buying scented candles is to check the business's animal and cruelty-free affirmations. At buff, our products, as well as our raw materials and ingredients, are cruelty-free. We only buy from reputable UK suppliers who ensure they also do the same. We are also against animal testing in every form. Even down to our candle wicks, which are eco-friendly and made from cotton.
Vegan and eco-friendly beeswax alternatives
When it comes to vegan and eco-friendly alternatives to beeswax and paraffin candles, there are several options available that can effectively replace this ingredient in various products.
Rice bran wax is one such alternative that is derived from rice bran oil production. It has similar properties to beeswax, making it a suitable replacement in candles, cosmetics, and packaging materials. This wax is known for its excellent emollient properties and moisture barrier capabilities.
Candelilla wax is another among the vegan products. It is obtained from the leaves of the candelilla shrub and is commonly used in cosmetics and food products. Candelilla wax has a high melting point, making it ideal for candles and provides a glossy finish in lip balms and lotions.
Carnauba wax is derived from the leaves of the Brazilian palm tree and is widely used in cosmetics, food products, and automotive waxes. It has excellent hardness and gloss properties, making it a perfect plant-based alternative to beeswax in a range of applications.
Soy candles, like a lavender candle, are also a well-known vegan alternative. Made from soybean oil, these candles burn cleaner and produce less soot compared to traditional candles. They are available in various fragrances and have gained popularity for their sustainability and renewable source.
Another is bayberry wax, which is derived from the berries of the bayberry shrub. It has a natural green colour and a unique aroma.
Non-vegan ingredients to avoid in candles
When it comes to choosing vegan candles, it's important to be aware of the non-vegan ingredients commonly found in traditional candles. Animal fats and beeswax are the main ingredients to watch out for, as they are used to harden the wax and provide opacity.
Animal fats, typically derived from sources such as tallow or lard, are obviously non-vegan as they involve the use of animal products. Beeswax, often considered a natural and sustainable alternative, is also not vegan-friendly. Despite being harvested by bees, the production of beeswax raises ethical concerns. Bees are essential pollinators for our ecosystem, and their exploitation of beeswax can negatively impact their well-being and result in the loss of their vital food source.
See our range of vegan and soy candles handmade right here in the UK.