Candles can create a warm and soothing environment after a stressful day. From the beautifully lit scented candles at dinner tables and birthday parties to your personal quiet time, candles continue to have an irresistible effect on our senses. This article provides details on what to look out for when buying eco-friendly candles and a list of some of the best sustainable candles you can switch to today.
Manufacturers make most conventional candles using paraffin wax, also known as petroleum wax. Also, some candles contain lead in the wicks to stiffen them. When burned, these can be potentially toxic to our environment.
Fortunately, there are eco-friendly alternatives, including organic soy wax candles, coconut wax, and beeswax candles. These candles have delightful scents while providing a safe and healthy environment for you, your home, and the planet.
The idea of choosing eco-friendly candles is that you can enjoy the stimulating scents coming from your candle while causing no harm to the environment.
You want to make sure you avoid any candle containing paraffin. Candles made from paraffin, derived from fossil fuels, produce harmful toxic chemicals. You also want to avoid wicks made from lead and candles poured into tea lights made of metal or plastic containers.
Candles that are made from natural and renewable resources are a better alternative. You can consider candles made with soy wax, beeswax, coconut wax, rapeseed wax, essential oils, cotton wicks, and other natural ingredients. Also, look out for candles scented with natural oils instead of synthetic fragrances.
Manufacturers produce soy wax candles from soybeans, making it a plant-based renewable resource. It is biodegradable and burns cleaner than paraffin candles. Soy is cruelty-free and is an excellent option for vegan candles. However, you must remember that some commercially produced soy wax may come from genetically modified soybeans or be sprayed with heavy pesticides. Soy wax also absorbs fragrance easily.
To be safe, look out for soy wax that is GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) free. You also want to ensure that the product is 100% grown soy wax. Some labels might say 50% soy wax blend, meaning that it could mix other toxic or synthetic materials. But equally may also blend other natural ingredients, so it’s always worth checking the detail on the label.
Beeswax candles are renewable and require little or no processing. Manufacturers extract it naturally from worker bee’s hives, which excrete wax through their glands while making honeycombs.
They have a natural honey scent and a long burning time. You’ll find Beeswax candles a bit more expensive because beeswax is less abundant and time-consuming to produce.
However, you also want to ensure the brand ethically sources its beeswax and is 100% beeswax, free of synthetic fragrances and ingredients.
Brands produce coconut wax candles from the coconut itself, just like coconut oil. Manufacturers mix coconut wax with other waxes like soy and other vegetable-based ingredients.
Many sustainable candles are a natural blend of soy and coconut. Popular candle-making blends burn longer than paraffin wax and are a more sustainable option for your home.
Most eco-friendly candles come with cotton wicks. Cotton wicks are several woven strands dipped in wax and held into a single strand. They are one of the safest options. Other candles come with natural materials like paper and wood sourced from sustainable forests. They light up fast and are environmentally friendly.
However, some wicks contain lead which can release unhealthy toxins when burned. As such, a simple test for a lead-free wick is to rub the wick on a white piece of paper. If it leaves a greyish pencil-like mark, then it contains lead.
When buying candles, the most sustainable option is to pick out the ones that come in reusable jars. If they’re handblown glass jars, even better. Some candles come in tea lights made of plastic or metals, which are not eco-friendly.
Jars can be recycled or repurposed. You can use your glass jar as a piece of decoration once your candle runs out. All you need to do is clean out the leftover wax. Or, for the more adventurous, you can refill candles at home by melting clean, eco-friendly soy wax into them, which is readily available in bulk a quick online search away.
You can craft your own unique, sustainable candles relatively easily for the more adventurous. You can be creative in the candle housing with ideas ranging from reusable ceramic plant pots to vintage china tea cups.
Quick links to our selection of the best eco-friendly candles:
The White Cottage co is a fragrance company that makes handmade and hand-poured products right from their kitchen.
This candle by The White Cottage co uses an all-natural soy wax with no dyes added. This non-toxic candle has a clean-burning and comes in paper and cotton wicks.
The White Cottage co makes various hand-poured candles, reed diffusers, and other fragrance products with sustainable ingredients and packaging.
This non-toxic soy candle from New Moon Beginnings comes from 100% domestically grown soy wax and organic herbs mixed with essential oils.
It is carefully hand poured into glass jars with unique designs and a lid on the top, making it easy to repurpose your glass jars once your candle finishes. It also comes with a lead-free cotton wick.
These candles are eco-friendly, making them safe for your health and the environment. It also comes in different scents you can choose from.
This all-natural candle from Madge Candle Store comes from 100% pure soy wax scented with essential oils. It is free from toxins and phthalates. This relaxing candle burns for up to 65-80 hours. It comes hand poured in a glass jar with a lid. There are also different scents you can choose from.
Natural Annie Essentials is a candle company by a black female aromatherapist. Each environmentally friendly candle is handmade in small batches and scented with essential and herbal oils. This soy candle comes with 100% phthalate-free oils and lead-free cotton core wicks. It comes in a reusable glass container and has a slow-burning time of up to 45-50 hours.
Sanari candle makes eco-friendly candles poured in small batches in California.
These candles are handmade from soy wax and vegan coconut wax blend.
Sanari candles contain certified organic essential oils, cinnamon barks, cloves, and vanilla beans and use 100% unbleached cotton wide wicks. They sustainably harvest the cotton for the wicks while they source their wax from non-GMO coconut and soy.
They carefully hand-pour their scented sustainable candles into a reusable wine glass, helping you reduce waste.
The sea, salt & orchid from Serenity scent co is a handmade candle from 100% natural wax. These non-toxic artisan candles come with a cotton wick free of harmful chemicals. Each one is a perfect blend of floral scents and phthalate-free fragrance oils from top to base. They come in various scents and have a long burning time.
These scented vegan candles from Lamberia come naturally scented, and they make them from 100% natural soy wax and plant essential oils. These candles come with a cotton wick and can last as long as 30-35 hours.
They come in glass jars with wood lids packaged in a gift box. These non-toxic candles are perfect for the home, office, bathroom, or other spaces. They are also an ideal choice of gifts for family and loved ones.
Octo makes vegan-friendly soy candles from natural ingredients. These scented candles combine pure essential oils and come in organic cotton and wooden wicks free of chemicals.
Manufacturers hand-pour them into reusable glass jars and package them in recyclable boxes made of cardboard. They have a long burning time and come in various scents you can choose from.
Wild Fern has a range of unique soy candles made with essential oils and other natural ingredients. These clean-burning candles come with an eco-friendly cotton wick. Manufacturers carefully hand-pour them into a reusable glass jar or tin.
Wild fern candles come in various scents packaged in a recyclable box with eco-friendly cotton cords and starched peanuts. They are non-toxic and have a long burning time.
This candle from Thiara Brands comes from natural ingredients like soy wax and vegetable wax. It comes with a lead-free cotton wick and well-refined fragrance oils that are completely cruelty-free. These vegan, non-toxic candles come in various scents with a burning time of 40-50 hours. Thiara brand’s candle range comes in a variety of scents as well as quirky sayings printed on their labels.
Wax and Oils candles are eco-friendly and free of chemicals, pesticides, and additives.
They make these candles from GMO-free soy wax and cotton core wicks. They come in various scents, including lavender and vanilla, hand-poured into recyclable tins. These candles are vegan-friendly and come in 100% recyclable packaging.
Wild Beautiful Free makes eco-friendly, cruelty-free, and non-toxic organic candles. Manufacturers make these candles using organic coconut wax mixed with pure essential oils and come with an organic cotton wick.
Its dream scent (lavender and vanilla) is a stress-relief candle that calms anxiety, helps with deep meditation, and induces sleep. Wild Beautiful Free gives 10% to ethical non-profit organizations that support animal conservation with every purchase you make.
If you are looking for natural candle scents for relaxation, house decor, or a gift, Klayre Essence has you covered. This candle comes from GMO-free soy wax with captivating earthy scents like sandalwood rose and essential oils from top to bottom. They come with organic cotton wicks and are entirely cruelty-free.
These non-toxic natural candles come hand-poured into reusable glass jars. It also creates a clean burn lasting up to 40 hours.
If you are looking for the perfect gift with a touch of sarcasm and attitude for your friends or family, then this candle is one you will love. Each of Cedar Crate Market’s candles comes printed with a quip. The candle offers premium fragrance oils and paper wicks hand-poured in a reusable glass jar. This candle burns for as long as 50-60 hours.
Woodlot candles make up a unique blend of coconut wax, GMO-free soy wax, and pure essential oil, hand-poured into a reusable glass container.
It comes with a lead-free cotton wick that is non-toxic for you and the environment. It also has a stimulating scent that uplifts your mood.
This plastic-free candle burns for as long as 60 hours and comes packaged in a sustainable paper box.
Ellis Brooklyn makes non-toxic zero-waste candles meticulously hand-poured in New York into handmade recyclable glass containers. It uses domestically grown soy wax and a hemp wick. It also has a long burning time of about 50-60 hours.
These non-toxic candles come in layers of unique scents, from fresh Capri fig through a blossoming of jasmine, before finishing with pepper and sandalwood.
Evermore London makes candles meticulously crafted by skilled artisans and hand-poured into hand-blown glass jars. It creates a perfect mix of soy and rapeseed.
These non-toxic candles are phthalate-free, giving you a clean burn that lasts as long as 60 hours. It also comes in various fragrances you can choose from.
Many scented candles from candle brands we consider ‘normal’ contain harmful toxins and ingredients like paraffin and synthetic fragrances.
Choosing eco-friendly candles help you improve your indoor air quality, protect your health and save the planet. With the list above, you can find non-toxic candles that come in a wide range of natural materials like soy, coconut, essential oils, and other natural ingredients. You also get your candles in reusable glass containers that help you reduce waste, perfect for your sustainable living journey.
Many candles are made with paraffin wax. Paraffin is a colorless solid that consists of straight-chain hydrocarbons. Manufacturers produce them from deodorized petroleum waste and chemically bleach them into the wax.
They use paraffin wax to make candles and other products like cosmetics, polishes, wax papers, etc.
Paraffin candles are the most commonly used, come in various scents and colors, and are often affordable. However, these candles are not biodegradable and are slightly toxic.
Studies reveal that paraffin candles can cause air pollution and that prolonged inhalation of paraffin may also lead to health problems like cancer, asthma, and common allergies.
In this study, researchers compare paraffin candles with vegetable wax candles1. They enclose both candles in a constructed chamber to trap and test the gases emitting from the burning candles. The paraffin candles released toxic chemicals, while the vegetable wax candles did not.
There are also scented candles with wicks containing lead, releasing airborne heavy metals that can be toxic when burned.
Due to lead poisoning, manufacturers stopped using lead in their candles and removed it from the market. Fortunately, in 2003, the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the manufacturing and sale of candles that have lead wicks2. However, some candle wicks still have lead in them, which may be prevalent in countries without bans, so do be wary.
The easiest way to avoid the health risks of inhaling toxic chemicals is to go for non-toxic, sustainable candles.
Derudi, Marco & Gelosa, Simone & Sliepcevich, Andrea & Cattaneo, Andrea & Cavallo, Domenico & Rota, Renato & Nano, Giuseppe. (2013). Emission of air pollutants from burning candles with different composition in indoor environments. Environmental science and pollution research international. 21. 10.1007/s11356-013-2394-2.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (2003, April 18) Metal-Cored Candlewicks Containing Lead and Candles With Such Wicks.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.