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Why Are Candles Expensive? And What Are Alternatives?

It feels like there are only two candle options – 99¢ or $100,000.

Okay, so not quite that bad, but let’s be serious; paying $100 for something that supposedly smells like bark and will burn out relatively quickly feels sorta insane. 

Let’s look at why candles are so expensive and what you can do about it.

Why are candles expensive?

Candles are made of wax, and most have fragrance, too. And while sure, it’s a complicated process. It’s still just … wax.

But did you know there are seven different types of waxes? The price depends on what you are directly looking for. You’re also paying for the jar and the scent, which often has some super secret formula (they’d like you to think).

What is so special about candles?

A candle has four major parts, and all four components can make them ‘special.’

  • Type of Wax
  • Fragrance
  • Wick
  • Jar

Type of Wax 

You’ve most likely never looked at a candle and wondered, is that soy wax or coconut wax? But, what the candle is constructed with can make all the difference regarding price.

Paraffin Wax (avg. price $10)

Petroleum wax, or paraffin wax, contains petroleum, coal, or shale oil, byproducts of the oil refining industry. 

  • Texture: solid at room temperature
  • Color. White or colorless
  • Melting temp: between 115 and 154 °F (46 and 68 °C)
  • Scent: odorless

Soy Wax (avg. price $20)

American Soy Organics- 10 lb of Freedom Soy Wax Beads for Candle Making – Microwavable Soy Wax Beads – Premium Soy Candle Making Supplies

The most common wax for DIY candles is soy wax, and it’s 100%-natural and vegan. Because it’s made of hydrogenated soybean oil, it is far better option for the environment than paraffin wax.

  • Texture: soft and pliable at the touch
  • Color: opaque white or beige
  • Melting temp: between 160 to 200 °F (70 to 90 °C)
  • Scent: has a natural forest-like smell

Palm Wax (avg. price $16)

ALEXES Palm Wax for Candle Making - 1 lb Palm Wax Flakes - Sustainable Palm Wax for Candle Making - Organic Palm Wax Flakes for Candles – Natural Candle Making Wax

Most palm waxes come from oil extracted from palm leaves in Brazil and Southeast Asia. It is vegan-friendly and versatile.

  • Texture: solid at room temp
  • Color: Yellow
  • Melting temperature: between 180–187 °F (82 to 86 °C)
  • Scent: odorless (everyone agrees to disagree)

Beeswax (avg. price $21)

Beeswax Pellets 2 lb, White, Pure, Bees Wax Pastilles, Triple Filtered, Great for DIY Projects, Lip Balms, Lotions

The taper, tart, and votive candles at the Dollarstore are all mostly made of beeswax. It burns cleanly, brightly, and longer than paraffin candles. Beeswax candles are some of the best varieties to have in an emergency to-go bag.

  • Texture: solid
  • Colour: yellow or brown
  • Melting temperature: 44 °F to 147 °F (62 °C to 64 °C)
  • Scent: entirely odorless

Gel Wax (avg. price $16)

2 Lbs High Density Penreco Gel Candle Wax Candle Making Supplies

Gel wax is used a lot to make decorative home items. See-through candles or those containing objects are made of gel wax, which is derived from mineral oil and a polymer resin.

  • Texture: jelly-like
  • Color: Transparent
  • Melting temperature: 180 °F (82 °C)
  • Scent: odorless

Rapeseed Wax (avg. price $11)

Mouldmaster Rapeseed and Coconut Blend Melt Wax Granules, 1kg, White

Also known as canola wax, rapeseed is made of hardened vegetable oil, making it an all-natural and vegan-friendly wax.

  • Texture: firm at room temperature
  • Color: white or beige
  • Melting temperature:109 °F (43°C
  • Odor:  odorless

Coconut Wax (avg. price $35)

Coconut 83 Wax - All Natural Coconut Wax 11.25 Pound Slab

Coconut wax candles are the most expensive on the market. It’s made of hydrogenated and refined coconut oil and is a 100% vegan option.

  • Texture: firm at room temperature
  • Color: bright white, creamy, or opaque.
  • Melting temperature: 100 ºF (37°C)
  • Scent: odorless

Fragrance

The candle’s fragrance is part of the price. And, it’s worth it sometimes to indulge and buy a candle that best burns your favorite scent. Just know what you’re paying for.

Artificial Oils vs Essential Oils

If you make candles yourself, you are likely to use fragrance oils. They are just more user-friendly and affordable than essential oils. 

You will likely want to stick to buying candles with essential oils, so you don’t waste the expensive elixir. Essential oils in any form or for any use are more expensive. It is the nature of that particular beast.

Wick

Wicks don’t add any substantial cost to a candle. A few cents here or there won’t make a difference.

If you make candles at home, go with bulk ordering for the best prices.

Jar

The jar part of the deal isn’t where the costly part is. It’s going to be shipping that causes costs to skyrocket. 

You can find all sorts of empty and lightweight jars if needed.

What is a good price for a candle?

It is a tricky question because it depends on what you want in a candle. It goes for whether you’re buying, making, or selling them.

You can find highly affordable options if you need to stock an emergency kit for a power outage.

If you’re a private seller, keep the market and your overhead costs in mind. The average mid-market candle runs around $20.

Is it cheaper to buy or make candles? 

How many candles do you use a year, and what do I pay for each? It is the question you’ll ask yourself. Someone who uses a dozen candles a year will have a different answer than someone who has a fragrant candle in every room of their home.

Making them is cheaper, but only if you are going to use all of the candle-making supplies you purchase. 

But, if you can shave some dollars off your candle budget, it’s always a win.

FAQs about Candles

Are candles zero waste?

Candles are zero waste when made of natural ingredients and featured in a reusable container. It means that most candles you buy or make are likely to be zero waste. 

Candles made of paraffin wax are not zero waste because they are a byproduct of petroleum.

What are the longest burning candles made from?

Soy wax will be the one you want to go with if you’re looking for long-lasting light. A candle made of soy wax lasts up to 80 hours, while one made of paraffin only lasts around 40.

Are homemade candles better than store-bought ones?

Yet another reason why making a candle a home may work out better is that they simply burn longer. You’re far more apt to put the time and energy into making a quality candle with better overall materials.