These days people are increasingly conscious about buying sustainable and cruelty-free products. A lot of consumers are concerned about their environmental footprint and their impact on the planet.
This is a fantastic step forward toward a better world. But it’s not always easy to find ethical alternatives for items you would to buy or even be sure if it is safe to buy. Sometimes people become confused because it’s just not clear.
For example, is it possible to buy cruelty-free beeswax candles?
Beeswax is an animal by-product so we cannot consider it to be vegan. As a result, it’s usually not ethically sourced or harvested. Despite this, there may be a way to create cruelty-free beeswax candles but it comes with a cost.
Let’s look at this situation now.
Why is Beeswax Popular?
There are several alternatives to beeswax candles, which we’ll look at later. But they all share one problem:
Beeswax is cheaper and easier to mold than the likes of soy or paraffin wax.
It’s also true that beeswax candles burn cleaner and are less toxic than some of the other options. However, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
Candle fans are drawn to beeswax because it’s an all-natural product. On paper, this seems like a good thing, but there is a dark reality to harvesting beeswax.
Honey bees produce the wax and use it to make honeycomb cells.
These cells have multiple purposes. They can act as a protective casing for growing bees as they transition from larva to pupa. Of course, they also store honey and keep it edible during the cold winter months.
Typically, this becomes messy when humans interfere.
One issue is that beekeepers smoke the bees to make them more docile. This can be harmful to them. Furthermore, they often clip the wings off of the Queen bee so that she stays in the hive. If the bees swarm, it can negatively affect honey production.
Finally, the harvesting process involves running a hot knife down the honeycomb. They melt the comb in boiling water before cooling it. Technically, this doesn’t physically harm the bees but it may disorientate them.
The other point to note is that all of the above refers to small-scale beekeepers who usually care about their hives. Mass-producers tend to focus more on the bottom line than the welfare of their bees.
Demand is the Problem
Many non-vegans may not see the issue with these practices if they are carried out sustainably.
However, the demand for honey and beeswax-based products like candles and cosmetics is very high. This is the inherent reason why we can’t buy cruelty-free beeswax candles.
As more people want these products, the companies become less caring about their bees. This results in more damaged and dead honeybees.
Another issue is that the bees no longer have the honey for themselves. It is replaced by another sugary substance that doesn’t contain the important nutrients that the bees need to thrive.
Independent beekeepers are typically aware of this and take it into account when they harvest honey. But mass-producers may not be as sentimental about the welfare of their bees.
A lot of people don’t give insects the same consideration as other animals, but there’s no doubt that this can be a cruel practice.
Bees only live for about 40 days and the global population is decimated. Transporting bees prevents them from developing their food glands properly and their ability to cope with colder weather.
The mass production of honey and wax only exacerbates this issue.
These days it’s possible to create synthetic beeswax.
The main benefit of this is that it’s cruelty-free and meets vegan standards. It contains esters, alcohols, and fatty acids. It’s not natural so it can be a problem when you use it in cosmetics.
Of course, this isn’t an issue for candles.
However, some people think that it doesn’t burn as well as genuine beeswax. This is debatable but it does guarantee that you’re not contributing to the harm of bees.
Alternatives to Beeswax Candles
Do you want to avoid using beeswax candles? If so, there are several different types of wax candles that you can choose from.
The trouble with paraffin candles is that they don’t burn cleanly.
Firstly, they have carcinogenic ingredients like toluene and benzene. Sure, it won’t be an issue if you’re just burning your candle occasionally but do you want to be exposed to these toxins?
Unfortunately, paraffin candles heavily pollute unventilated rooms. Furthermore, paraffin is a petroleum by-product so it’s hardly sustainable either.
Most people would prefer to use beeswax because it’s safer.
Now let’s look at a greener alternative. Soy candles are growing in popularity for several reasons.
Firstly, soy wax is 100% green.
As soy is vegetable-based you can rest assured that there is less of an impact on animals than by harvesting beeswax. They are biodegradable so they won’t damage the environment in any way.
Another surprising benefit is that they often produce a better scent than beeswax candles. The latter had its odor, which can reduce the overall effect. However, soy candles don’t have this issue.
Meanwhile, soy is cheaper to produce.
This is great news for customers because they don’t have to spend as much money on soy-based candles. Everybody is a winner, including the bees!
Also, it’s a safer industry for wax producers because of the likelihood of increased bee regulation shortly. Many world governments recognize that the global bee population is in crisis and plan to rectify this.
For more information about the differences between soy wax, beeswax and paraffin wax check out the awesome guide that I wrote.
The question of cruelty-free beeswax candles is a tricky one.
If you are determined to buy this type of wax, then do your homework. Check the labels and see where the candle is made because it’s much better to buy from a small producer than a big corporation.
They will almost certainly take more care of their bees and show them more love.
However, it’s possible to avoid using beeswax and still find great candles. Soy candles are a perfect alternative because of their price and comparable scent. Some would even claim that they’re better than beeswax.
It’s best to avoid paraffin candles because of their toxins and overwhelming pollutants.
Also, don’t be deterred by the thoughts of synthetic beeswax candles. They’re a great option because they are almost interchangeable with natural beeswax. Furthermore, they don’t have the same issues as cosmetics.
Whatever you do, make sure you read the labels and you won’t feel guilty about your purchase. Enjoy your scented candles!
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