3 Considerations for Nontoxic, Clean-Burning Candles — and What That Really Means
It’s no secret that scent and mood are , and burning a candle can be a one-way ticket to a calmer, more relaxed state of mind.
But could the wrong candle be doing more harm than good? It’s a surprisingly controversial topic. While many conventional candles are still made with questionable ingredients, including paraffin wax, synthetic fragrances, and inferior oils, evidence of their negative health effects remains largely inconclusive.
Still, if the idea of a nontoxic, clean-burning candle appeals to you, I’ve done the research and rounded up the contenders for your consideration. But first, here’s a quick look at the ongoing discussion of candle toxicity.
Are some candles really toxic?
Some of this discussion started back in , when the Environmental Protection Agency released a report about candles and incense as potential sources of indoor air pollution. The report identified issues like:
- lead wicks, which were banned in
- a range of synthetic and problematic volatile organic compounds — including formaldehyde, which can be released into the air while a candle burns
However, to date, research hasn’t linked scented candles with a health risk. When it comes to candles, we’re still dealing with a largely unregulated industry and inconclusive data.
But if you’re like me, a little digging about the ingredients in the average candle might give you reason for pause.
Is paraffin really a problem? Is soy always a better choice? What about your favorite wax blends, or those complex aromas that can’t really be captured in an essential oil? (Sea salt, I’m looking at you.) And why do some candles give me a raging headache, while others just smell great?
Until we know more, it’s probably best to opt for candles from companies committed to transparency, quality, and sustainability. But it’s not enough just to follow your nose. Instead, check the label, scour the website, or ask a company directly to learn more about three key elements.
1. Fragrance source
In the United States, skin care products, perfumes, and candles can legally use the catchall term “fragrance” on an ingredient list. But when you’re swooning over scents like seaside or pumpkin spice, what are you actually inhaling? Well, it depends.
“What many people don’t know is that the word ‘fragrance’ can refer to thousands of chemicals used to make up a complex aroma,” says Daniel Swimm, founder and CEO of Grow Fragrance.
“The reality is that many of the chemicals used to create fragrances today are synthetic petrochemicals derived from crude oil that carry carcinogens and have reproductive toxicity warnings.”
That sounds terrible, but it doesn’t necessarily mean all synthetic ingredients are bad for us — or that every “natural” ingredient is automatically safe.
Actually, there are a number of synthetic molecules that are to their made-in-nature counterparts. And just because you don’t recognize an ingredient doesn’t necessarily make it bad.
“Many of the chemical names in disclosed ‘fragrance’ will be long and scary-looking — think ‘methyl dihydrojasmonate,’” says Mia Davis, Credo Beauty director of environmental and social responsibility. “But their chemical-y sounding names don’t equal ‘toxic.’”
There’s another benefit to synthetic ingredients. As Stephan Tracy, Harry Doull, and Christophe Laudamiel of Keap, a Brooklyn-based candle company, explain, “Man-made materials allow us to innovate beyond the limitations posed by nature.” That can mean far more nuanced scent profiles.
2. Wax type
Paraffin wax, which is petroleum-based, has long been painted as a villain in the toxic candle debate. That’s largely based on a study that found burning paraffin wax released potentially dangerous chemicals. But there are questions about the validity of the study, and it was never published in a peer-reviewed journal.
While the health risk hasn’t been confirmed, there are other options if you just feel better avoiding paraffin. Plant-based waxes, including coconut, soy, and beeswax, can offer a more natural, sustainable approach — but shop wisely.
Because the fragrance industry is largely unregulated, “A candle can have 1 percent soy and still be labeled as ‘soy-based,’” says Swimm. This is when it becomes important to know the brand.
3. Wick type
This was far more of an issue before lead wicks were banned, but it’s still a good idea to shop for wicks made of cotton or wood. Some wicks have a metal core for support, which may not be readily visible.
Nontoxic, clean-burning candles
Ready to shop? Here are a few nontoxic candle brands to get you started.
Grow Fragrance Candles
Grow Fragrance was created to offer percent plant-based home fragrances using toxin-free ingredients, sourced naturally and in season.
That extends to their candle line. The company says they use a test developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure all candles are percent plant-based and free of heavy metals and toxins — no phthalates, parabens, petroleum, or synthetic petrochemicals.
Grow Fragrance also says they avoid essential oils with sustainability issues, though they don’t say which ones. Their eco-friendly awareness extends to design as well. When making your first purchase, you’ll buy a concrete outer vessel that can be used again and again with refill candle inserts. The refill inserts are housed in aluminum that can be recycled after use.
Made with American-grown soy wax, coconut wax, and plant extracts that burn without emitting any harmful toxins, candles by Grow Fragrance are incredibly fragrant and long lasting.
Slow North Candles
Michelle and Jon Simmons were motivated to create plant-based candles following the birth of their first son. During Michelle’s pregnancy, they became increasingly aware of questionable ingredients in common household items.
As they searched for nontoxic replacements, the need for naturally healthy candles become clear, and the pair began experimenting. Their approach to candlemaking centered on ingredient transparency and clean-burning fragrances. The resulting candle line was an immediate hit.
All Slow North candles are made with pure essential oils and U.S.-grown soy wax. They’re poured into U.S.-made tumblers that can be reused. Cotton and paper wicks and cork lids round out the design, which is beautiful in its simplicity.
Slow North has over one dozen scents, and I can personally recommend the Rosemary + Lemon!
Brooklyn Candle Studio Candles
Brooklyn Candle Studio is all about affordable luxury — captivating scents, a minimalist aesthetic, and the very best ingredients.
Raw materials include percent soy wax derived from U.S.-grown soybeans (a renewable resource), cotton wicks primed with vegetable oil, and fragrance oils derived from both natural and high-quality synthetic ingredients.
The company uses only phthalate-free fragrance oils, and all candles are cruelty-free and vegan. By avoiding paraffin wax and metal core and petroleum-primed wicks, their candles are an eco-friendly choice with a clean burn.
Pure Plant Home Candles
Pure Plant Home keeps it simple with coconut wax, an unbleached cotton wick, and pure essential oils — no petrochemicals, synthetics, or artificial dyes or colorants.
Tina Rocca, the founder, has been making aromatherapy blends for over 20 years. In , she launched Aroma Naturals Candles, which would grow into the largest manufacturer of handcrafted aromatherapy candles before being sold to Yankee Candle Company.
Tina found her way back to candlemaking and developed a soy-free coconut wax — the perfect carrier for her essential oil aromas.
The founders of Keap took an intellectual approach to their candlemaking, taking perfumery classes and touring factories to help them pinpoint the details that matter. The result is a masterfully scented, virtually zero-waste candle.
Keap applied a deep understanding of the practicality, safety, artistry, and ethicality of fragrance options, which resulted in a blend of natural and synthetic fragrance. Plus, the team’s commitment to continuing its education in the pursuit of transparent, sustainable candlemaking is admirable.
Made from glass with low-adhesive labels, the containers can easily be reused or recycled. Subscription shipments are sent in compostable mushroom packaging.
Keap candles include cotton wicks and are made with slow-burning coconut wax in lieu of paraffin.
I found Heretic as one of a handful of candle brands stocked by Credo Beauty.
Thanks to the Credo Clean Standard, a rating system that considers safety, sourcing, sustainability, ethics, and transparency, the company’s roundup of “clean” candles actually means something. Plus, all products sold by Credo are free of what they call the Dirty List, a list of ingredients linked to health or environmental issues.
Four candle brands have made the Credo Clean Standard cut so far, and Heretic is one of them. These candles are made with soy wax and lead-free cotton wicks, plus a mix of essential oils and both natural and synthetic fragrance ingredients. Ingredients are listed in full, and definitions are provided for all.
There’s a lot of contradictory information about candle toxicity, and it’s hard to know what to believe. That’s why a little digging about a candle manufacturer and its philosophy is the best way to separate transparency, quality, and sustainability from marketing hype.
Remember to check ingredient lists, check out websites, or ask directly about the fragrance, the wax, and the wick. And keep in mind that like most things, candles are probably best enjoyed in moderation — and always in well-ventilated spaces.
Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since , covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.
Yep, Fall is officially here candle lovers, and weve got some good seasonal candles to recommend this year. Its hard to believe weve made it this far into where does the time go? While things have not yet returned to normal, we can still hopefully cozy up in the comforts of our homes with some warm, inviting fragrances. Thats why were coming back yet again with a round up of some of the best Fall candles you can buy.
1. Pumpkin Pie, Pure Integrity
This Pumpkin Pie candle from Pure Integrity always seems to make the cut. This candle may look very simple in design but trust us when we say it will be the last Pumpkin Pie scent you will ever purchase. Okmaybe thats a bit of a stretch, but its really good. Trust. If youre after an authentic pumpkin pie scent, complete with pumpkin puree, crust, spices, and whipped cream, this is your go-to candle. And its soy. LOVE!!
Shop Pure Integrity
2. Cornbread & Honey, Candles
We think has some of the BEST foodie scents around. That holds true with this yummy, delicious Fall candle, Cornbread & Honey. This scent is super heavy and comfortingvery authentic. If you love candles that smell like food, go for this one for sure.
3. Baltic Amber, Voluspa
Moving away from the foodie scents, we come upon this gem from an affordable luxury candle brand, Voluspa. They have a number of great Fall scents, but we think Baltic Amber rises to the top. Its warmits comfortingand the container is stunning. What more could you want?
4. Bonfire Embers, Opalhouse
Not all great candles have to set you back a paycheck or two. Take the Opalhouse candles found in Target. They are generally high quality candles and offer a good burn. For Fall, we suggest getting Bonfire Embers. Ohmygoodness, it smells like Fall in a jar! The warmth of sandalwood, subtle spices, and firewood make this one of the best.
5. Pumpkin Chai, NEST Fragrances
Surewe know that Pumpkin Chai from NEST Fragrances might be a little cliché. After all, it is on just about every list of best Fall candles you can find. But its there for a reason, guys. This candle is FABULOUS and it seems to last forever. This is not a foodie pumpkin scent, but more of a warm, spicy scent. Its hard to describejust know that its fantastic.
Shop NEST Fragrances
6. Pomegranate Delight, Lone Star Candles & More
One of the things we love about this job, is that we get to try a bunch of different candles from a jillion different places. Its what helps usand youdiscover some really awesome candle brands. Take Lone Star Candles & Morethey make some deliciously strong soy candles, and Pomegranate Delight is one of our favorites. If youre looking for something a little more bright for the Fall, this one should fit the bill.
Shop Lone Star Candles
7. Blackberry Absinthe, Illume
Illume candles are consistently high quality and come in such a wide array of beautiful vessels. We are partial to this tin style, though, for the scent Blackberry Absinthe. This scent is dark and mysterious, with just the right amount of sweetness from the blackberries and orange. A very complex scent that should carry you from Fall to Winter!
Shop Illume on Amazon
8. Pumpkin Pecan Waffle, Madison Valley
Move over, you-know-who. This Pumpkin Pecan Waffles scent is to die for! It is super strong and yummy. Whats more, it lasts a really long time, making the value of these candles unbelievable. If you love foodie, go for this one.
Shop Madison Valley Candles
9. Vanilla Fleur, Soap & Paper Factory
Floral fans, have no fear. While most florals dont exactly scream Fall, you can get your fix on in scents such as the lovely Vanilla Fleur from Soap & Paper Factory. This scent is warm and sensual, with just enough of the floral orchid notes shining through to give it a bit of a Fall twist. Its fabulous.
Shop Soap & Paper Factory
Redwoods & Amber, Paddywax
Paddywax has a number of great candles, but their Vista line makes us swoon. The vessels are gorgeous and the scents? Divine! Take Redwoods & Amber, for instance. This is the perfect Fall scented candle, as it includes some warm spices, bright citrusy notes, earthy woodsiness, and even hints of leather. Talk about a scent explosionin a good way!
Heirlūm Pumpkin, Thymes
We end our list with one of our favorite candles of all-timenot just for the Fall! Heirlūm Pumpkin is rich and pumpkin-y sweet without being cloying. Its a mouthwatering scent that fills the air and makes our homes all warm and cozy. While they release this scent in a number of different vessels, its this centerpiece one that has stolen our hearts.
And that, our candle loving friends, completes our list of 11 must have candles for this Fall. We chose a variety of styles and prices to fit all budgets and tastes. We love them all and we hope you find a new one (or twoor three) to love!
This article was originally published in September The original author’s notes have been included with necessary modifications/additions based on product changes, availability, similar factors, and to include our new Fall candle loves!
About This Author
Hi, Im Andrea, the current owner and Candle Lover in Chief here at Candlefind. I have a sincere passion for candles, being mesmerized from the moment I saw my first flickering flame. I love luxury candles (who wouldnt?) and unique scent combinations. My love for scent has now spilled over to wax melts and scented bath/body products. When Im not scenting, I love reading and playing with my wild & crazy pup, Holly Berry.
See authors posts
1Joy + Laughter Cranberry Dahlia
$10 AT AMAZON.COM
With over 2, reviews, this soy candle is one of Amazon's most popular. It boasts a 50 hour burn time and an assortment of calming fragrances.
2Farmhouse Jar Candle
$25 AT ANTHROPOLOGIE.COM
This hand-poured wax candle comes in three comforting scents: Heirloom Tomato, Rosemary Sea Salt, and Meyer Lemon.
3Fresh Linen Luxury Scented Soy Candle
$15 AT AMAZON.COM
As another popular soy candle pick on Amazon with over 1, reviews, this one comes in over 15 different scents, but we love this clean aroma.
$30 AT ANTHROPOLOGIE.COM
First off, we absolutely adore this golden honeycomb jar. But apart from adding a little flair to your home decor, the collection of honey scents boast up to hours of burn time—depending on the size you choose.
5Dark Rum Soy Candle
$55 AT NORDSTROM.COM
From leather, dark rum, and even cannabis, Malin+Goetz's soy candles offer plenty of sensual, musky scents.
6Slow North Jar Candle
$20 AT ANTHROPOLOGIE.COM
Refreshing scents like rosemary lemon, grapefruit and spearmint, and coffee and spice will bring the ultimate comfort to your home.
7Old Books Soy Candle
8Scented Soy Candle
From the popular eco-friendly cleaning products line, this simple plant-based candle is made of essential oils, and also comes in a reusable jar, so it won't go to waste after the wick burns down.
9Bad-Ass Bitch, Any Scent I F'n Want
$24 AT ETSY.COM
Soy candles with attitude are something we never knew we needed, but who could resist sassy scents with names like "Don't Be So Humble"—inspiring us to truly let go during a little relaxation time.
10New York City Candle
$34 AT BLOOMINGDALES.COM
Not only are Homesick's comforting products uber popular, but they're all % soy wax, leaving you with no worries as you relax to the scents of Miami, L.A., or New York City. Take your pick.
11Good Natured Soy Candle
$24 AT ANTHROPOLOGIE.COM
The neutral tones of these hand-crafted mini soy candles will blend in with any space, providing 16 hours of burn time.
12Toasted Pumpkin Spice Candle
Gold Hill Candle Co.
Gold Hill Candle Co. specializes in long-lasting, luxury candles—and the brand is a favorite amongst celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Mariska Hargitay. For the perfect scent to cozy up with this fall, light up their sweet-yet-woodsy Toasted Pumpkin Spice.
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We've done some digging, and we've found lots of candles at Target that appear to be vegan, using soy, palm or paraffin wax bases instead of beeswax.
Note: We always want to share all the information we can with you, so we'd like you to know that we couldn't find full ingredient lists or the official confirmation of the vegan statuses for most of these candles. Unfortunately, candle producers are not necessarily required to share the exact contents of their products.
Consequently, we can't make any guarantees with % certainty, and we definitely recommend contacting companies directly any time you're unsure about whether a candle is vegan or not.
That said, we can show you which candles Target sells that don't list any animal products.
Keep reading for the full scoop.
1. Mrs. Meyers Glass Candles
See it here
From our research, like Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, Mrs. Meyers candles use vegan ingredients. The company website is pretty open about its candles' contents, which incorporate vegetable wax derived from soy and corn for safe and eco-friendly burning. Mrs. Meyers also notes that its candles have zero traces of phthalates, paraffins and lead. We'd expect nothing less of Mrs. Meyers.
2. Yankee Candle Tumble Jar Candles
See it here
Many vegans on the internet agree that Yankee Candle products are vegan (unless they specifically list beeswax in their makeup). So if you're a huge fan of the vanilla and cinnamon Christmas Cookie scent, there's no reason you can't indulge. Yankee Candle does use paraffin wax, which comes from petroleum and coal and has recently been linked to potential health hazards. It may not be the best option out there, but at least you know that it's vegan.
3. Soho Brights Tin Candles
See it here
From what we can tell, Soho Brights Tin Candles don't contain animal products. The aromatic Peony Petals candle is made from soy wax and has a dual wick for up to 44 hours of burn time. It also happens to come in a lovely metal container you can cover with a lid when unlit.
4. Vineyard Hill Naturals by Paddywax Soy Wax Candles
See it here
Americans can hardly wait for fall for pumpkin everything. Starbucks may not make its famous PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) vegan-friendly, but Paddywax offers a White Pumpkin Latte Soy Wax Candle that will make everything smell delicious. It's actually a blend of soy and paraffin waxes with a triple wick to give a room an enchanted glow.
5. Project 62 Square Pillar Candles
See it here
The Project 62 Pillar Candles from Target are paraffin-based, which means that they should be vegan. If you're OK with paraffin wax, the Refresh Spearmint & Eucalyptus candle is super fresh-smelling. You don't even need to burn it—pillar candles make lovely home decor.
6. J.R. Watkins Soy Candles
See it here
According to J.R. Watkins, the company's Soy Wax Candles in Lavender, Lemon Cream and Aloe & Green Tea are plant-based and dye-free with lead-free wicks. They're made with soy sourced in the U.S.A. and burn cleanly for up to 35 hours. Sensitive noses can also enjoy them as the scents are natural, not at all overpowering.
7. Opalhouse Scented Soy Candles
See it here
The Opalhouse Scented Soy Candles that Target sells are, from the looks of it, vegan. They're shown as blends of palm oil and soy and feature botanical-inspired fragrances like Hibiscus Palm, Spring Bloom and Ginger Citron. They also come in a variety of containers from glass jars to printed metal boxes to prettify any environment.
8. Aromatherapy Tin Jar Candles
See it here
Blending soy and paraffin waxes with herbal, floral and fruity essences, the Aromatherapy brand strives to create different moods with its candles. Ocean lovers might like Be Grateful Cucumber and Sea Petals, meant to evoke a relaxing visit to the seashore. There's also Choose Happiness Sparkling Yuzu and Lime, Give Love Fresh Lilies and Citrus and Feel Beautiful Freesia and Peony.
9. Chesapeake Bay Tealight Candles
See it here
Looking for some vegan tealights? Chesapeake Bay has both scented and unscented tealight candles made from paraffin wax that'll last for about three hours. You can buy a piece box set of either white or cream-colored tealights of the unscented type at Target.
Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Galvanized Metal Container Soy Candles
See it here
These candles are blended soy and paraffin waxes in galvanized metal containers with a cool spotted look. Since they're so fancy, they're probably best used for decoration (though you can feel free to burn them). Part modern and part rustic, they should fit in quite easily with many home aesthetics.
Candles who makes opalhouse
Target, you light up my life!
If you’re a fan of floral, fresh, or fruity fragrances, you’ll definitely want to check out the new (or new to me) Opalhouse candles at Target – there are so many scents to choose from! Not only will these candles infuse your space with a pleasing aroma, but the decorative jars and lids are so pretty to look at, too!
Also, I spotted several new soy wax candles from Project 62 on the shelves! They’re all made with essential oils and come in simple yet beautiful debossed ceramic containers. And, all of the candles (yep, even the smaller ones!) have three wicks to release the maximum amount of scent into your space!
Wondering which candles are some of our faves?
“My favorite overall scent was definitely the Wild Hibiscus Sangria. It was both tropical and floral but not overpowering. They all smelled so wonderful!
My other favorites were Pineapple & Bamboo Leaf, a lighter clean scent; Aloha Hibiscus, a nice floral scent; and Paradise Pineapple, an amazing tropical scent.” -Jami, Hip2BeHome sidekick
OPALHOUSE FRESH COLLECTION:
OPALHOUSE FRUIT COLLECTION:
OPALHOUSE FLORAL COLLECTION:
OPALHOUSE ESCAPE COLLECTION:
OTHER OPALHOUSE CANDLES:
PROJECT 62 CANDLES:
Up Next: Bath & Body Works Candles Versus ALDI Candles: Who Wins?
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