A comprehensive guide on selling your homemade candles to abide with UK regulations
You love making candles and wax melts and all things craft and now you want to start selling them? You have a website ready, reliable suppliers on hand and the most important thing, deliciously scented candles waiting to be sold – but you’ve still got one more thing to do. And that is, to sort out everything from the legal side of things.
The law relating to candles is complex and technical, but every candle making business owner needs to be aware of the laws in place which are ultimately there to protect the business as well as the customers. This article is a good checklist to ensure you’ve covered everything from insurance to labelling – the last thing you want as a new, small business is to be unknowingly on the wrong side of the law!
As you’ll be selling your candles on a retail level, your local authority Trading Standards services will be the body you’ll be dealing with. It would be advisable to make a note of the Trading Standards office that is local to you (you can do so here: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office).
The current law that applies to the overall safety of goods is The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR for short). There aren’t any specific laws that relate to just candles, but there are some ‘European standards’ which give clear guidance on candle safety and are recommended to adhere to as they demonstrate ‘due diligence’ under the GPSR.
Whether you sell your candles through your own website, through sites such as Ebay, Etsy or Amazon or even at a Summer fete, it’s important to make sure that you have Craft insurance in place to cover your business against any unforeseen circumstances.
Can you imagine building up your business with things going great, candles flying off the shelf and money-wise everything is looking positive, but then one of your customers has a house fire, claiming it started because of one of your candles.
You may argue that you had a warning label and it was entirely their own fault. Regardless of whether that is true, the customer could take you to court and even if you are ruled to not be at fault, you will still have to pay the legal fees which in some cases can be substantial! That alone could ruin any chance of your small business starting up.
It really is important to make sure you are insured for obvious reasons – there are a few different insurance companies out there covering crafts such as candle making so make sure you have a good look and ensure you are insured before you start trading.
Indicating Who You Are
Customers, by law, have the right to know who it is they are entering into a contract with. This is covered mainly by the Companies Act 2006 and for websites the “e-commerce Regulations” (you’ll see a section on this coming up).
You must provide the business name, legal ownership name and an address where legal documents can be sent. These requirements apply to receipts, invoices, orders and business correspondence e.g. through emails. This shouldn’t be something hidden away in small print and the bottom of a random page – but should be fairly easy to find. If customers are protected and have all the above info, it’s good news for you because it means they’ll be able to trust you and are more likely to buy your candles.
On your website you must declare your name, geographical address, email address, your British Candlemakers Federation (BCF) membership (if applicable), and VAT number (if you are VAT registered).
As you will most likely be selling your candles on your website, then it is important to note that you will be entering into a ‘distance contracts’ with them. You will have to give a 14 day right to return the products as well as supply pre-contract information. There are a few other things to consider which you can find here: https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guide...
Imitation Foods Candles
Without going into all the nitty gritty details, all you need to know is that there are some regulations that you need to follow with regards to your candles which have an element of food whether that’s through smell or shape – e.g. a baked cookie or jelly bean scent. If it’s something that children could confuse with food and put in their mouth to eat, causing injury or death, then it is prohibited. Usually this will apply to food like sweets, fruits and cakes.
Now before all hell breaks loose, fear not! We have all seen and smelt all those delicious food-smelling candles out there – who doesn’t fancy a sweet buttery baked cookie scent dancing in the air? Do bear in mind that Trading Standards will look at the product as a whole – taking packaging into account (e.g. having “NOT FOOD, DO NOT EAT” on the labelling will help render the candle as safe) as well as other things like if the product is too hard to be bitten into or if it contains chemicals creating a bitter taste so it may be spat out. There are a variety of things you can do to help lessen the risks.
Do contact your local Trading Standards if you are unsure. Remember, just don’t do something silly like selling cupcake scented candles in the shape of a cupcake held in a paper cake case or red strawberry scented candles in the shape of a strawberry without any obvious labelling to show it is not edible!
Insect Repellent Candles
Just a quick note – if you are planning on selling candles and physically marketing them as insect repellents you’ll need to make sure your candle is registered with The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) – this is because insect repellents are actually controlled by HSE, and if it isn’t on the official register as an insect repellent and you haven’t got any scientific evidence to back it up, then you could get in a lot of trouble.
Say for example you have a fresh citrus scented garden candle but the product is not registered with HSE as an insect repellent, then you can of course sell your candle but you’ve got to make sure you have no marketing campaigns claiming that candle is an insect repellent - even pictures of insects on your candle packaging would be considered misleading.
A Note About Custom Blends
You may have seen Instagram and Facebook full of information on how make your own custom blends and melts using overpours and mixing fragrance oils. Whilst I do admit you can create some delicious smelling scents, you’ll need to be careful if you want to start selling these custom blended candles.
According to the regulations each and every fragrance blend MUST have its own SDS (Safety Data Sheet) which is then used to create a CLP label. When creating your own blend, you cannot use the CLP for each separate fragrance and put them altogether on a product in a list – it is not compliant.
Although it does seem a lot easier, this list method, of just combining the information from each CLP label, is not at all accurate and is also potentially illegal. Furthermore, if your labels are incorrect and there is an incident with your customers and your candles, your insurance policy (PLEASE make sure you have insurance before you start selling!) could be rendered invalid and you would then become personally liable. This is a path you do not want to go down, not to mention the Trading Standards investigation that could follow.
If you do want to start selling your custom blended candles, as mentioned, you’ll need to make sure the fragrance blend has its own SDS which in turn will be used to create a CLP compliant label for your product.
I do hope this article helped you figure out the majority of what you need to have in place in order to start legally selling your beautiful candles.
Please note there is a Part 2 – this covers the most researched and popular topic regarding the selling of your candles – and that is how to label your candles! Head on over there for a read on all things labelling!