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The Sad Truth About Birthday Candles—and What to Use Instead

Planning a celebration? How standard birthday candles harm the planet—and the paraffin-free, eco-friendly birthday candles to use instead.

Written by
Angelica Pizza

What would a birthday be without making a special wish? The birthday tradition is universal, dating back centuries. You light the candles on your cake, make a wish, and blow them out before the wax begins to drip all over the icing.

And it's no secret that blowing out the candles is one of the most popular traditions in the world. Research shows that the birthday candle market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9% by 2027.

However, even though birthday candles are a celebration staple, they come with some downfalls. Here's everything you need to know.

The Problem with Birthday Candles

According to the National Candle Association, over 1 billion pounds of wax are used to produce the candles sold yearly in the U.S. Unfortunately, many traditional birthday candles on the market are made of paraffin wax.

In 2018, the paraffin wax "held a market share of more than 30%." Why? Because it's easy to mold, cheap to produce, and water-resistant.

However, despite paraffin wax's convenience, it comes with an environmental cost—and a health hazard. Paraffin wax is a petroleum by-product. And when we purchase paraffin candles, we support the oil industry, an industry that accounts for roughly 9% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Plus, when paraffin candles are burned, dangerous chemicals are released into the atmosphere, even though birthday candles are small in size. Specifically, some of these candles emit soot and toxic chemicals like benzene and toluene—aka carcinogens.

So the sad truth is: Traditional birthday candles aren't exactly sustainable. But that doesn't mean you have to give up your birthday wish. Here's an eco-friendly alternative to celebrate your birthday with.

Eco-Friendly Birthday Candles to Use Instead

Instead of grabbing party store candles for your next celebration, opt for an eco-friendly alternative. Check the labels on the birthday candles you plan on buying. And search for natural, non-toxic ingredients. We recommend soy wax, beeswax, or coconut wax candles.

To make birthday shopping easy, we recommend Paraffin-Free Birthday Candles. They're exactly like traditional candles—without the toxic ingredients. These candles are paraffin-free, made with palm wax, and filament-free cotton wicks. So you don't have to worry about petroleum wax dripping onto your birthday dessert.

They also burn for about five minutes, and the wax is compostable. Plus, with these candles, your wishes for recyclable packaging will come true!

Even if you're not celebrating a birthday any time soon, you can also choose eco-friendly candles to light around your house. Follow these DIY candle instructions, or look into these National Parks Candles that smell like the great outdoors.