Are Candles Really Zero-waste?

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Photo by Hakan Erenler on

As the world becomes more conscious of waste reduction, it can be easy to forget about the small things, like candles. Candles are present in nearly every home, and it’s important to know how much waste they create.

The Truth About Zero-waste Candles

  1. It all depends on what products and chemicals are used in making the candle.
  2. Even the scent can create a chemical waste, so be sensitive as to what is used to give the candle its smell.
  3. Packaging is the biggest source of waste when buying a candle.
  4. Buying local reduces waste from the transportation of goods.

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to the making of a candle, and the harmful ingredients can be difficult to find when buying from the store. Be sure to check what the candle contains before buying.

If a candle is not zero-waste, but at least conscious of the environment, it will have very little packaging, and will most likely be vegan and chemical-free. These can be difficult to find, but with more information, you will soon be able to scout them out at the store.

The health benefits of switching to zero-waste candles are important to note, as well. When burning a regular candle, many chemicals are released into the air. No one wants to breathe in chemicals, so making the switch is also beneficial to health.

The Best Materials to Use

  1. Wooden wicks. These burn down as they go, leaving no waste when your candle is completely burned. If there is waste, this is a biodegradable material, so it will disappear naturally.
  2. Soy or Beeswax. These are materials that, when they burn, do not emit harsh chemicals into the atmosphere. This saves the amount of pollution waste that goes into the air.
  3. Glass containers. These are reusable after the candle has burned. Or, if you do not want to reuse the container, it is recyclable! This cuts the waste of packaging completely, as there is nothing that cannot be reused by someone.
  4. Use aluminum as your base. If you need something to balance the candle and the wick on, aluminum is the best resource. Once the candle can no longer burn, the aluminum can be recycled.

Should You Make Your Own Zero-waste Candle?

If you are able to, try to make your own candle. Making your own candles is the best way to reduce waste. This is due to the materials not needing packaging, as well as the ability to pick and choose what materials go into the whole candle.

  • Wick. Regarding the wick of your candle, where most of the chemicals reside, be mindful of what material you use. Check out this post from post-consumers to find more information on the potentially harmful effects the candle wick can have on the environment.


  • Scent. Natural scents, such as those found within essential oils, can help to make your candle smell amazing without all of the harmful ingredients. Be sure to check the purity of your essential oils before buying, as sometimes there can even be harmful ingredients lurking within them, too.


  • Sourcing the wax you buy can be difficult, but it only takes a quick search about the company or a simple question on the phone to figure out if they are, indeed, an environmentally-friendly source to buy from.

Make It Fun!

Making your own candles can also be a family activity. Going through each step with a loved one can make the process not only informational for everyone involved but also provides a great opportunity to do something together.

Helpful Tutorials to Get You Started

Following tutorials can be the easiest way to DIY candles. These can be found in abundance on the internet, but zero-waste videos can be hard to find.

For more information on how to make your own candles, check out this list of videos:

  1. Sustainable, Zero-waste Christmas Gift: HOW TO MAKE SOY WAX CANDLES
  2. DIY Candles – Recycled Wax – Fairyland Cottage
  3. How to Make Candles With Essential Oils – Homemade Summer DIY – NaturallyThriftyMom

Don’t forget your candy thermometer and your creativity! Making your own candle can be a great way to flex your creative muscles, especially with the scents needed.

Places to Shop for Zero-waste Candles
(If You Don’t Want to Make Your Own)

If you want the fastest way to find eco-friendly candles, simply search for reduced packaging candles that are conscious of the ingredients that go inside of them. Remember, the packaging is the biggest source of waste, so cutting down on that is essential.

  • Local shops. Local and small businesses are a great place to start when wanting to shop for zero-waste candles. Look for places that are eco-friendly, or at least conscious of the amount of waste they create with their products.


  • Online crafters. If you cannot buy local from a candlemaker near you, small businesses usually own websites to sell their goods. Etsy is a great place to support small, environmentally friendly businesses that work to reduce their waste exponentially.


  • Environmentally responsible brands. Finding brands that are conscious of what they put into their products is slowly getting easier as the public becomes more aware of cutting down on the waste of goods. Now, it is easy to find these kinds of brands at places like Target and Walmart without looking very hard.


  • Even the big boxes. Overall, buying local should be the first priority, but if that is not available to you, then try to find reduced packaging at chain stores with smart ingredients within them. Just putting in the effort of looking at the materials within the product will start you on your way to sustainability.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Normally, the information you’re looking for can be found just by asking the simple but direct question: “what product waste reduction steps are you taking”? If the store has a website, hop onto their “about us” page and see if they discuss their views on the environment and their impact on it.

Making the Switch to Zero-waste

While it may be more expensive to go toward the side of the zero-waste candle, the benefits outweigh the price. No one wants to breathe in chemicals, nor do they hope to hurt the environment intentionally. This is the perfect way to better both your body and the earth.

Prices on these candles, however, are not outrageous. For example, a zero-waste candle can be found for under $10 depending on the size of it. The larger the candle, the higher the price, as with any other product.

These may be more expensive than the average candle, but the ingredients are the cause. Buying ethically sourced and environmentally friendly made products benefits so much that the price is hardly a reason to refrain from making the switch.

Zero Waste. Big Benefits.

Switching to a more sustainable lifestyle can help with more than just the earth and small bits of your health. The knowledge of taking steps to better your consumption of goods can even affect your mental health in a positive way!

Without being conscious of the goods we consume, it is impossible to strive for a better lifestyle. Consumption will always be a part of our lives, but there is a way to do it ethically and sustainably.

Taking the steps toward positive change is just the beginning. From zero-waste candles, you can learn a lot about what is harmful and positive for the environment and your body.

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