How to Reduce Waste in the Candle Making World
Buy supplies locally whenever possible
Buying from local stores eliminates the need for packing and transportation. Explore your local hobby and candle supply shops before having supplies shipped to you. When you do need to buy online, buy in bulk whenever possible to cut down on packaging. Plan ahead for these orders and try to make as few of them as possible. If you’re mailing your candles, explore sustainable shipping options like shredded paper or wood-based excelsior rather than bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts.
Check out secondhand shops when you need new stuff
I always recommend buying your metal pouring pitchers from candle supply stores (they’ll have a plastic handle so you don’t burn yourself) but there are a ton of other supplies you’ll need upfront and down the line--spoons or whisks to stir in fragrance oil, measuring cups, extension cords, and jars and baskets to store things.
Reuse your jars
Burned candles can be placed in the freezer for a couple of days, allowing the wax to contract and slide out of the jar. If you’d prefer to melt down your remaining wax, the candles can be placed direclty in a pan of hot water or on a cookie sheet in an oven set to the lowest temperature for about five minutes. After wiping it clean with a paper towel, remove the filmy residue with isopropyl alcohol or a lens wipe. When your jar looks and feels the way it did when you bought it, it’s ready to be washed and reused. If you choose to make a new candle in your jar make sure to check it for cracks, chips, or other damage, as these can get worse with heat. You can also use your jar for various other purposes but be sure to wash it thoroughly. Using it as a planter is something I see often, but lingering wax and oils can contaminate the water and soil. If you see that your plant is struggling, remove it from the soil, run water over the roots, and repot. Never eat or drink out of old candle jars and be wary of companies that suggest it.
Attach metal tabs to your wick trimmings
If you’re using standard 6” pre-tabbed wicks, you’ll likely trim off a significant amount after your candle hardens. Buying your wicks by the spool and using pliers to attach metal tabs can cut down on wasted trimmings. Alternatively, you can use the pre-tabbed wicks initially and then attach metal tabs to the excess that you trim off. The bottoms of the tabs will likely be warped by the pliers, making it difficult to use adhesive circles to attach them to your jars. I find that using hot glue is easier when I’m attaching my DIY wicks.
Engage with others
Like almost everything you do, making candles has a carbon footprint. It’s important to push yourself to minimize this as much as possible and to explore new ways of cutting down waste to reduce your environmental impact and save a significant amount of money along the way. If you come up with an innovative way to reduce the environmental impact of making candles or any other hobby, share it with others. Waste reduction methods must be collective and widespread
Article by Taylor Evans of Candle Ghoul:
When I graduated from “candlemaker by hobby” to “candlemaker by profession”, I became especially conscious of my effect on the environment. I was going through supplies faster than ever before, looking into upgrading some of my equipment, and considering the next steps of what was becoming my career. One of the biggest facets--and by far the scariest--of that planning was financial. My candles and workshops have always been pretty low-budget affairs (I’ve never paid for advertising or taken out a loan) so I needed to find ways to minimize my costs as well as my environmental impact as I grew.
Although there’s a lot of overlap in cutting waste and cutting costs, sometimes they diverge completely. If you have the resources, I would encourage you to prioritize the environment over your bank account. If you don’t, there are still a ton of things you can do to be kind to the planet.