All About Wax

The Truth About the Candle Industry

Our candle making journey began in an effort to solve a problem. What is in our wax? As we dove deep into the world of candle waxes, we never realized the complexities that existed surrounding ethics and sourcing. We learned a lot, and we want to share.

 

The Bad

  • Soy wax is made from soybean oil, using a process similar to that used to create paraffin wax, a petroleum based product. This is also similar to the process used to create coconut wax. The oil is refined, hydrogenated - that's what makes liquid oil hard at room temperature.

  • All existing plant based waxes rely on industrial farming. Currently there are no plant based waxes that do not threaten native plant diversity, contribute to climate change, deforestation, pushing native populations out of their land, and loss of habitats for wildlife. Read more on the WWF website on soy…

  • Industrially processed beeswax, found in craft stores, bulk maker websites, and through major wholesale distributors, contains paraffin. Paraffin is a petroleum based product.

  • Unless a candle brand is buying directly from beekeeper or distributors with transparent sourcing, it must be assumed that it has been chemically deodorized, likely bleached, and contains at least .5% paraffin, which is used in order to make the candles more aesthetically pleasing. Even products that say “100% Beeswax” are NOT 100% Beeswax. We found no major brands with transparent sourcing, and very few boutique brands who could identify their sourcing.

  • The industrial beekeeping industry hurts both native bee populations and small beekeepers. They drive down the prices of honey and wax, making it impossible for beekeepers to compete, and establish more hives their local ecosystems can support - just like agriculture, it is always more ethical to source from small honey and wax producers.

 

So, you can see what we were up against. But don't fret - not all is lost. It is not impossible to find an ethically made candle, and Needfire has dedicated a lot of time and energy to answering the question - how can I buy candles that align with my ethics as a consumer?

 

 

The Good

  • There are many domestic and international beekeepers that can be supported. We buy our wax exclusively from small producers - they range from small farms, mobile pollinator services, and small companies that help apiaries process their honey, and sell the leftover wax for them.

  • Beeswax does NOT need to be heavily processed. Pure beeswax has almost an indefinite shelf life. Thousands of year old beeswax has been found, tested, and proven to be nearly identical with freshly produced beeswax.

  • We have a massively long relationship, as a species, with beeswax. And that means, the best way to process beeswax is also the easiest way - we process all of our gold beeswax in house, by simply straining it through a fine cloth. All of our white beeswax is processed by our suppliers, with no added chemicals or other waxes.

  • When ethically sourced, beeswax helps in an effort to save the environment. There is no argument, native populations of bees are better pollinators than domesticated honey bees. Ideally, more pollinator friendly wildflowers should be planted, fewer pesticides used, and the public is educated on their local pollinator population so that these native species can survive. Regardless, we still need a pollinator population. The Western Honeybee is imperfect, an import from Europe, but an important stopgap while we continue to fight for the earth's resources to be properly managed.

  • Beeswax candles clean the air. They naturally ionize the air, pulling toxins from it. No other wax does this.

  • Needfire has committed to perfecting our sourcing. In our modern world, there is no such thing as perfectly ethical sourcing. However, there are ways to keep improving. We are in the process of working with more farms, particularly in Europe where Western Honeybee populations are native, to continue to reduce the environmental impact of our candles.

  • We are giving back. We believe in supporting native bee populations FIRST. We will be fundraising for The Bee Conservancy, a non-profit organized as a response to the current bee crisis. We have added a donation page to our website, and will be donating a percentage of all our candle profits to their cause.

Join us in our efforts for a more ethical candle industry! We hope you are inspired to find ways in your own community to save native bee populations. And keep an eye on the blog, where we will be highlighting more information on native pollinators, the candle industry, and ethical consumption.