Revolutionising Candles: Lewis Bowen from LightMe
"Not only do the candles produce no soot, they also have no wax to spill – perfect for hospitality business"
Different scents, colours and designs abound, but the actual technology behind candles hasn't changed much in the last two and a half thousand years. Lewis Bowen is trying to change this – as founder and director of AIR Global Ltd he's used his knowledge of clean fuels he has developed a candle that is soot-free, self-extinguishing and powered by bio-oil.
Where did you get this idea from?
Well, my fiancée loves to light candles all over the house, and I thought of the idea when I lifted a picture from the wall and there was huge soot marks all up the wall. Knowing the amount of soot that comes off of normal candles, we looked for a solution to make them cleaner and safer.
There are 3.8 million deaths a year that are attributed to indoor, household air pollution. Also, through selling these products we can fund projects, primarily starting in Africa, where people are using fuel every day for survival and not just for ambience – kerosene, paraffin or wood. It's killing people, and by selling our product we're supporting projects over there to stop that happening – financially and with our fuels.
What's the fuel that you are using?
We had already developed cleaner fuels for outdoor usage like camping stoves and so on, so we were looking to find any product that doesn't currently use a clean fuel and improve their design and make them better for the environment. The fuel itself is a bio-oil, like a vegetable oil, from a renewable source in Malaysia. The oil is refined then put into our candles, so the oil itself is what makes the LightMe candles clean-burning.
How did you get into the clean fuel industry?
When I was at university I did a placement year at GlaxoSmithKline on a sustainability project. There, I discovered a company called TerraCycle who take products that can't be traditionally recycled, and turn them into something usable. The first product they developed was worm poo as fertiliser – their first customer was Walmart. They put this fertiliser into recycled Pepsi bottles and sold them, very successfully. I really liked that business model because it's commercial but it's also doing something good for the world. You can sell products effectively and help people at the same time, so it's a win-win.
So what are the benefits of your candles to the consumer?
Not only do the candles produce no soot, they also have no wax to spill – perfect for hospitality business who may want to light a lot of candles but don't want to deal with wax spillage, which can be a nightmare to clean up. It's also self-extinguishing if knocked over, so from a safety angle it's much better than normal candles.
There's a report by the Royal College of Physicians that talks about air quality, and candles add to the problems of air quality in the home. People use them and don't consider what they're actually burning – traditional candles are made of paraffin, which is a fossil fuel.
How do businesses get hold of some?
We're stocked in the two biggest national wholesalers, and businesses can also buy from our website.
What are your plans looking forward?
We're looking at introducing a scented range, and also to introduce consumer products like candle lamps and candle holders so that we have a range of products that can suite anyone's style preference.
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