Duncan Wilcock


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Are Tea-Lights Green/Eco-friendly?

At the check-out the other day, someone pointed out to me that - as I put my shopping in my cloth grocery bag - that the 100 tea lights I was buying weren't very enviro-friendly. I haven't previously been a huge consumer of tea lights, but I am starting to use them much more lately.

At any rate, I had to concede that there are some drawbacks - the most obvious to me being the metal holder that is not burned during use. Each candle has a metal holder that must be discarded.

Naturally Reduce is the first word of the three R's (Reduce. Re-use. Recycle.) This is a given in my mind, and behaviourally I reduce all consumption in my life as much as I can while still feeling balanced (ie that i am not being unfair to myself).

Given that, this leaves Re-use and Recycle. Re-use i'm working on, but for now I'll concentrate on Recycle. Is the metal part of a tea-light recyclable? It's metal, so it's a good candidate in theory. Ultimately it will depend on one's local recycling service, and i have not yet phoned my service to inquire, but I will.

Information on the web is surprisingly sparse. Have so few others cottoned on to the eco-unfriendliness of tea-lights as yet? One reason for this post is to put more material out there on the subject. Frighteningly I was able to find only one relevant link as I write this, it is:


So apparently in Waverley (UK) - "The metal bases from tea lights can also be recycled in the [metal] bank." Phewf. Someone recycles them.

I was a little concerned that the inevitably unconsumed wax remaining the in metal holder might disqualify these bases from being recycled, but then most metal recycling processes will use a lot of heat already and would presumably burn off the excess wax as a matter of course.

As a final thought: Standards can be good. In fact they can be quite green in many cases. The tea light is a standard candle format for which there are a great many modular tea-light candle-holders, and it sure is convenient. It would be nice to find tea-lights without the metal bases - please let me know if you come across any & if so where I can find some...

Jan 2011: Edited to replace the photo which had gone offline since the original post.