There is still a lot of confusion over whether paraffin wax is classed as vegan friendly and whether it is bad for the environment, in this article we want to tackle some of the misconceptions and issues surrounding the wax.
With its origins in the Petroleum industry it has of late become something of a pariah of the candle making industry (with the drive for natural products) and has been described as not being vegan friendly. Paraffin has gone from being the leading wax used in candle making to now ranking considerably lower down the chain.
A major factor for the decline of Paraffin wax is down to the increased number of people choosing to live a vegan lifestyle, therefore a lot of businesses have become keen to market their products as vegan friendly to improve business and sales as veganism continues to grow and trend. A lot more end users are now looking for products that are cruelty free and vegan friendly, however if you (as the candle maker) were to investigate this further, you will discover that paraffin, as a product, is vegan friendly and cruelty free.
The English dictionary defines the term vegan in the following way,
a person who does not eat or use animal products.
“I’m a strict vegan”
using or containing no animal products.
“a vegan diet”
Vegan Friendly, Environmentally Friendly and knowing the difference
The difficulty with paraffin wax is that it is commonly categorized incorrectly. There are very blurred lines as to the difference between ‘vegan friendly’ and ‘environmentally friendly’; they have two very different criteria’s and need to be separated instead of being the same thing. Paraffin is animal product free and cruelty free and therefore can be used in any vegan friendly product without labelling implications. However, the claim for the wax being environmentally friendly is a little more complex as Director of Cosy Owl Richard Fewings comments:
“Paraffin wax is viewed as environmentally unfriendly due to its association to the petroleum mining industry and the waxes manufacturing process. However, with paraffin being free of any animal products, this ensures it can be used in any vegan-friendly product.”
Historically the process of making paraffin wax was discovered in the 1850’s when chemists realised that the left-over waste product after the removal of the crude oil could actually also be refined to separate the waxy substance and use this for making candles.
“Whilst we do not state it as an environmentally-friendly product, as the process in obtaining the oil in is clearly detrimental to the environment, the wax itself is a by-product of the petroleum industry. Therefore, it can be claimed as a better to make full use of the mining that will take place anyway, rather than cause even more wastage in the process and have what could be a useful by-product go to landfill sites.”
It should be pointed out that paraffin wax does also have some performance benefits over some other types of wax. It is generally easier to work with, less prone to crystallisation due to its molecular structure, has a superior scent throw and generally holds dye better.
On the flip side though, natural waxes are generally 100% biodegradable, whereas paraffin wax isn’t and from an air quality standpoint, though there has been little in the way of scientific measurement, it does seem that paraffin wax is a worse emitter of particulates, though anything that is burnt does produce some particulates. The best way to minimise this is to ensure that you have done plenty of testing in selecting the right wick for the wax, container size and fragrance and dye combination to give as clean a burn as possible.
So, when selecting your wax, it is not clear cut, but we think it is best to know the facts and make an informed decision.