M’sian Startup Upcycling Used Cooking Oil Into Scented Candles
Author’s presentation text: I had a scented candle phase a few years ago where every time I went to the mall I would walk the scented candle stores just to smell the many options available and identify which ones I liked. Whether I ended up buying them or not, it was more of an experience that I enjoyed doing with friends.
Scented candles have always been considered elegant and luxurious.
While thinking of an exclusive name for their brand that turns used cooking oil into scented candles, one of the co-founders suggested combining the main elements of their business.
“Oil” and “lilin” (candle).
“So we combined the two names in OiLilin,” Redza said.
Restaurant oil recycling
OiLilin was started by 3 co-founders. Nina Alias, Ashaari Rahmat and Redza Shahid.
Before starting OiLilin, the three were involved in the social enterprise, Grub Cycle – which Redza also co-founded – which focuses on creating environmental impact.
“Looking into the environmental sector, we know there is still a long way to go before we can truly educate the public on the importance of taking care of our environment for our future generations,” said Redza .
Grub Cycle works with restaurants and collects their used cooking oil.
With so much excess, the 3 searched for recycling ideas for the oil and noticed that turning it into scented candles was something few people knew or had even done.
So they started their validation process in November 2019 and officially launched the company in March at the AGC.
“We have noticed that candles are a great companion during the stay at home period,” he said.
Wouldn’t he smell like fried chicken?
The oil is first collected from certified halal restaurants around the Klang Valley.
“Once we collect the used cooking oil, we will do several filtering of it to make sure all the residue has been removed before being used to create the scented candles,” he said.
After being filtered, the used oil is mixed with the scent powder of OiLilin.
Adding strong perfumes will remove the smell of used oil.
For example, mixing used cooking oil with their blueberry scent powder will simply turn any oil smell into blueberry scent.
“The candle will no longer smell like fried chicken or fish after mixing,” Redza said.
He further explained that other methods of reusing cooking oil were to recycle it into soap or detergent.
“It’s a straightforward process and can easily be done at home just by learning it over the internet, although it’s something we haven’t explored yet.”
This seems like a good way to make sure that oil doesn’t spill down the sink and clog the drains, although the hygienic aspect of cleaning something with another dirty object is questionable.
Therefore, OiLilin chose to recycle used cooking oil into candles so that consumers do not have to use it directly on their skin.
To find out whether or not these scented candles would be something the public wanted, the team made a soft launch in November 2019 with just 2 scents.
They opened a small pop-up store with a creative market in a mall and received positive feedback from customers.
Customers were also asking for more scent choices, so they went back to the drawing board.
It took them 3 months to create more unique fragrances before they were ready to market their products and finally launched in March of this year.
Like any other new brand, they struggled to market their product.
Along with the field events and digital ads, they also had to demystify a stigma towards their upcycling process.
“We had to educate and change the mindset of the public on how we could turn used cooking oil into scented candles, which was not easy,” he said.
In particular, we got influencers to do live sessions on how they could make these candles themselves in 5 minutes with OiLilin DIY kits.
Again, this would usually be the target market buying these products in the first place.
However, if one chooses not to create a new candle, Redza recommended simply soaking the jar with lukewarm water and washing it with soap until no longer greasy.
This is not the only use of the kits.
Have you ever noticed that a finished candle tends to leave oil residue?
Redza said that’s where their DIY kits come in.
“You can mix the leftovers with the new oil and play with the scent,” he says.
The team created these DIY kits to ensure continued use of candle jars and used cooking oil, even in their clients’ homes.
Of course, this would require a high sense of social responsibility on the part of their own clients.
Redza also said the peak period for courier deliveries during the AGC also caused them problems with dented jars and melted candles received by customers.
“This forced us to improve our packaging. It has all been a good learning curve for us to continue to improve our process in order to receive greater customer satisfaction and feedback, ”he said.
For now, the team is focused on marketing its scented candles.
“But I hope that in the future there will be more people who will buy the DIY kit and recycle their own used cooking oil at home.
Conclusion: I think their DIY kits are a really cute concept, it can be a fun family activity. Hopefully the team will find more calming scents like mint or lavender in the future, as most of their options now turn to sweeter, more fruity scents.
- You can read more about OiLilin here.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: OiLilin
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