Many companies produce excellent vegan candles, but you’ll need to go out of your way to find them. The majority of candles contain slaughterhouse byproducts.
No laws require candle-makers to list their ingredients. So, oftentimes, you can’t determine the vegan status of a candle without contacting the company.
Most candles contain parafin as their primary ingredient. Unfortunately, parafin alone is too soft to make a good candle. So most candles also contain a small amount (up to 10 percent) of stearic acid to harden the wax and provide opacity. Parafin is vegan and derived from petroleum, but stearic acid often comes from animal fat. While coconut-based stearic acid is widely available, most candle-makers opt for the much cheaper slaughterhouse byproduct.
Some premium candles are made from beeswax, which is naturally a hard wax and doesn’t need stearic acid. But since beeswax is produced by bees it is obviously not vegan.
Unless the label indicates otherwise, you should assume it’s not vegan. Luckily, you can find vegan candles without too much hassle—although they’ll always cost more than the cheapest candles. Some higher-end candles carry a vegan certification or other emblem on the label.
Related pages: animal ingredients.