Do you put candles on your holiday table? It may seem like a small thing, but the type of candles you chose makes a difference environmentally.

Conventional candles are made from paraffin. Paraffin candles are made from petroleum and emit harmful carcinogens when burned. Their creation is bad for the Earth's environment and their use is bad for the environment inside your home.

In contrast, soy candles are made from soybeans and are nontoxic. No carcinogens are emitted when they burn. They usually cost more than paraffin candles, but they burn longer. They don't need to be replaced as often. Our home blogger, Matt, did a thorough piece on soy candles that you should check out.

Another option is beeswax candles. Beeswax is a completely renewable resource. Beeswax candles burn longer than paraffin candles, and they are almost dripless, making them a good candle to put on top of a tablecloth — no difficult wax drips to try to clean off. Like soy candles they burn clean, and like soy they are more expensive than paraffin.

An added bonus to choosing beeswax is that you will be supporting the producers of these candles who in turn can afford to continue to help the bee population return to the numbers it should be.

Sometimes better, cleaner and more environmentally friendly costs more. This is one of those times. I don't know if the soy and beeswax candles burn long enough to cancel out their higher cost, but it’s not always about saving money.

Resources for better candles

If you’ve still got a farmers market that is running near you at this time of year, chances are there is a honey producer there. Those honey producers often sell beeswax candles, too, so your local farmers market is good place to look for beeswax candles.

Independent, specialty candle stores may also have a good assortment of beeswax or soy candles. I’ve also seen soy candles in Target, and I can imagine they are in similar stores.

There are many places online that sell these candles. Here are few options.

  • Bluecorn Naturals – sells both beeswax and soy candles
  • Beelite Candles – 100 percent beeswax and 100 percent soy candles with cotton wicks
  • – Amazon sells a variety of different beeswax and soy candles, but I found while looking that the descriptions aren’t always well-done.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Eco-friendly candles for your holiday table
Is it worth it to spend a little more on candles that are friendlier to the environment?