There’s no smoke with fire, which is why we’ve headed to some of Kent’s best and brightest candlemakers to discover more about our county’s growing love for vegan candles, and the personal connection it shares with this old flame.

For some the candle is the blackout failsafe – the thing that you rummage desperately for when the house is plunged into darkness - and to others, it’s the ultimate homeware accessory, ideal for discovering that elusive sense of hygge. But like so many things, it’s much easier to enjoy life’s pleasures when it comes with the bonus of being guilt-free!

Kenn Orbeck, founder of Saltworks Perfumery in Ramsgate, believes it’s important to offer products that resonate with people and fulfil their needs on a deeper level.

‘Whether it’s negotiating with suppliers or modifying our process, we’re constantly challenging ourselves to look at how we can increase sustainability,’ he explains. ‘It made sense for our candles to be petroleum-free and crafted using vegetable wax. Being natural, vegan and low carbon are things we’ve always believed in. We never set out to be vegan first, and a perfumery company second. It was always our goal to create stunning fragrances in the best way possible.'

Kenn also believes there’s a perfect fragrance out there for everyone, it just all depends on who you are. ‘It can be an illuminating voyage, exploring scents and finding one that speaks to you. Our aptly named, Candle Discovery Set, is ideal for such as excursion,’ he adds.

Great British Life: Candles are a magical escape for the mind. Photo: Candle Wise Candles are a magical escape for the mind. Photo: Candle Wise

Book lovers can fall into the pages of their favourite novel, accompanied by the tones of the library-inspired Papyrus candle, which is perfect for quieting the mind. If it’s been a long day, the energy-restoring Vetyver Falls candle will help you escape as you indulge in a long soak and for those who love nothing more than catching up with friends, the hypnotic Morrocan Night orange candle will help set the scene.

Many underestimate the effect scent can have on our bodies. Our olfactory systems are incredibly powerful and react to aromas, sending messages to our nerves and brain, stirring up memories and emotions. Just like there’s a perfect song for an occasion or mood, there are also fragrances that can heighten our experience and help us create moments worth remembering.

‘Candles aren’t just a source of light or pleasant smell, they’re a magical escape for the mind,’ explains Bella Beeler, founder of Candle Wise in Benenden. Bella first began candle-making as a hobby, after being inspired by an empty wine bottle on a sunny day with her family.

‘I was looking for something to do with the bottle, instead of throwing it away, and came up with the idea to transform it into a candleholder. I began experimenting further, and soon after sold my first candle, and then many more. In 2022, I decided to make it a full-time pursuit,’ she adds.

Great British Life: For Bella, each candle is a labour of love. Photo: Candle Wise. For Bella, each candle is a labour of love. Photo: Candle Wise.

‘I love what I do and have never been so happy. I probably work more hours than I should, but because I adore it so much, it never really feels like a burden. Each candle is a labour of love, and I think the positive energy I invest in creating them is something that can be felt by the people that enjoy them.’

It was always important to Bella to run a business that mirrored her values and took an ethical approach to production. She uses coconut wax, a greener alternative to traditional paraffin, and composes fragrances using only natural and synthetic elements. ‘It’s not just the candles that are sustainable, but the packaging, too. These details are what make our candles truly vegan and therefore more enjoyable. It’s a pleasure to develop scent concoctions that can take you on a journey,’ Bella shares. ‘My favourite scent adventure consists of three candles that provide a way to explore the world in less than 80 days and with much cheaper travel fares!

‘The trek begins right here in Kent, with the Benenden candle. This one is very special – it’s the first scent I created and reflects everything I love about the area. From there we head to London with the Marylebone candle, which is my go-to scent for any time of year, and finally, we escape to the tropics with the Aloha scent. This one is great for helping you escape the murky skies. Instead, it feels as if you’re sat on a paradise beach!’

A candle’s scent can carry us further than we ever imagined and deliver warmth and light in more ways than one.

Great British Life: Kerry Hawkins enjoys helping others discover the secrets behind this beautiful art form in her candle-making workshops. Photo: Whist UKKerry Hawkins enjoys helping others discover the secrets behind this beautiful art form in her candle-making workshops. Photo: Whist UK

Kerry Hawkins, who runs candle-making workshops in Kent for Whist UK, enjoys nothing more than introducing others to this beautiful art form and helping them discover the treasures it beholds. She hosts the workshops seasonally at Pomalo in Pembury. Places can be booked at

‘In the sessions, attendees learn the craft of candle-making using ingredients and methods that tread gently on the planet. They get to take away the candle they create,’ Kerry explains. ‘Often people are drawn to a particular essential oil, not knowing why. It’s usually their body’s way of communicating a well-being need that the scent can help alleviate.’

Kerry also shares tips on what makes a ‘good candle.’

‘I enjoy teaching others about the benefits of vegan candles. I’m dedicated to living as low waste and planet friendly as possible, which you can tell by the products we offer at Whist. I believe we should all try to lead a greener life, as even the smallest of changes can make a big difference,’ she shares. ‘The art of candle-making is incredibly rewarding. It’s a mindful practice that can help soothe nerves and stress. I’ve found it a significant source of comfort and reassurance during difficult times.’

Great British Life: Candle-making is a mindful practice that can help soothe nerves and stress. Photo: Whist UKCandle-making is a mindful practice that can help soothe nerves and stress. Photo: Whist UK

Before launching Whist, Kerry’s husband was devastatingly diagnosed with grade four cancer.

‘He was in hospital for extended periods of his battle. Every day, I left his bedside to return home to our young boys and let them know how hard their dad was fighting to come home.

‘It was only after they were asleep that I’d let the tears fall. It became a nightly routine to light a candle and silently tell the flame about my fears, wishes, and hopes. That little ritual helped me feel safe and gave me a moment to breathe and gather my strength for the next day.

‘It’s a gift I wanted to share with others so that if they too needed stillness, they’d be able to find it. Though you may not realise it, candles can be whatever you need, from a beautiful scent to fill your home, to a calm ambience for dinner with loved ones, or a companion in the dark.

‘No matter what the day has held, the steady flicker of candlelight is an eternally grounding presence that can help light the way back to yourself.’