Are Your Candles Vegan? How to Tell

70% of Americans regularly burn candles in their home for extra light, or to make their space smell pleasant. When you are living a vegan lifestyle, it is important to avoid animal products completely, not just in the food that you consume. Beeswax and animal fats are two common ingredients used in the manufacture of candles. They are often added to other types of wax, such as paraffin wax, in order to provide opacity. Although beeswax is a natural type of wax, it is made through the labor of bees. The honeycomb, a source of food for the bees, is often removed from the hives too during the process. When you are next buying scented candles for your home, you should check that all the ingredients are vegan-friendly, so that you can be sure that your candle isn’t harming the environment or advocating animal cruelty. 

Fats and waxes

When you are looking at the ingredients list on a candle, it may include tallow. Tallow is made from the rendered fat from sheep and cows. Another common ingredient to look out for is stearic acid. This is added during the manufacturing process, and helps the wax to burn evenly and more efficiently. Stearic acid is a fat that can be derived from plants, in particular coconuts, but is also often derived from cows, pigs and sheep. The packaging on candles rarely states the source of the stearic acid used. When you are looking at the ingredients of vegan candles, you should also check the type of wax used. Soy wax, rapeseed wax and coconut wax are all vegan-friendly. You may also find that candles are made from a blend of different vegetable waxes. 

Candle additives

Many candles on the market use scented or essential oils to enhance the fragrance. Generally plant-based essential oils are vegan-friendly. For other synthetically produced oils, you may need to actually contact the manufacturer directly to establish if the oils that they are using contain animal derivatives. You will also want to consider whether the scents or oils were tested on animals. Honey is another ingredient that is often added to candles for scent and color, and this is not vegan-friendly. 

Other considerations 

Beeswax is often used in the production of candle wicks. You should instead make sure that the wicks of your candles are either wood or cotton. It is also worth considering the labeling and packaging of a candle. Often the glue that is used in label stickers has been manufactured using animal derivatives. Printing ink on labels can also be made using glycerin, bone char, animal gelatin and shellac, which comes from beetles. Finally, although some candle ingredients may be vegan, you should also make sure that they are cruelty-free, and haven’t been tested on animals.  

There are a surprising amount of ingredients used in the candle manufacturing process that have derived from animals. If you want to make sure that a candle is truly vegan, and not just “natural,” you should confirm this with the manufacturer directly. 


Written by Jane Sandwood