What’s the burning issue with vegan candles?

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Now that the clocks have gone back (Spring forward; Fall back) and the nights are drawing in, there’s something comforting about the war glow of little tealights or the wafts of perfume from a scented candle. There are plenty of options available in supermarkets, bio shops, ethnic outlets and online. However, vegans do need to be wary as there are a few animal ingredients to look out for – and avoid.

Photo of vegan candles
Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay

What’s the problem with candles?

There are a couple of reasons why you might want to take a second look at the pretty scented candle before you put it in your shopping basket. Most basic candles are made from paraffin wax, which can release volatile organic compounds known as VOCs when burned. These are carcinogenic and may also cause issues for people with respiratory problems like asthma. Another vegan-related issue is that this type of wax is often hardened with stearic acid, and animal product, so that’s a vegan no-no. Even if you go up-market to some of the more expensive brands you’re likely to find that these candles are made of beeswax, another vegan no-no.

Can you buy vegan candles?

The good news is that vegan candles are widely available. These are generally made from soy wax, I’ve even seen 100% vegetal scented candles in glass containers in SuperU, but not tealights. I resorted to the internet to track down some great vegan tealights on the Greenweez site. Not only were they vegan, but they came in recyclable packaging and holders. The quality is so good that there is no residue left and they last for four or five hours. Alternatively, if you’d like to support an English-run business then check out Bougies D’Aquitaine where Jane Hunt makes hand-poured soy wax luxury candles and wax melts that are vegan friendly.

What about incense sticks and cones?

I do enjoy burning some incense when I’m doing my daily yoga. However, there are a few things to watch out for when you’re buying incense sticks and cones. It’s safest to opt for a vegan brand as the manufacturing process can involve the use of gelatine or animal-based glue to stick the incense paste tot eh bamboo stick. Check the list of ingredients carefully and, in addition to gelatine, avoid: ambergris (sperm whales), musk (deer), castor (muskrats and beavers) and operculum (fish or mollusc).

Where to track down vegan products in France

Many bio shops carry a range of candles and incense sticks or cones. However, you’ll need to check the labels carefully as bio doesn’t equate with vegan and many are made with beeswax. Supermarkets brands need scrutiny too. Otherwise, shop online or even have a go at making your own, you might discover a new hobby!

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