From soaking in the tub on a Sunday afternoon or just bringing a little self-care romance to your evening glass of wine or your morning pages, candles are always a charm. From seasonal scent to longer-lasting wick, there are a few things to consider when choosing candles for your home.
Something that often gets swept aside when candle shopping is making sure you avoid toxic candles and looking for clean candles instead.
If the idea of looking for non-toxic candles has you scratching your head, fear not. We are here to break down exactly what we mean when we talk about finding the best non-toxic candles out there and keeping your home sweetly scented and clean.
Why You Should Care About (And Buy) Non Toxic Candles
Although Bath & Body Works was a teenage girl's dream back in the day, there's reason to avoid their top-selling smells these days. As heart-crushing as it may be to have to put down that vanilla scented candle that fueled your youth, it's time to work that stuff out of your bath and body.
So what's the big deal?
Believe it or not, some candle brands can contribute to health issues depending on how they are made. Animal studies have shown that inhaling particles from candles can have a similar effect to breathing in fumes and air pollution and that long term exposure could lead to lung problems.
The research around toxicity and candles can be tricky to pin down. There have been other studies on safety like this one, but it's worth noting that the study was sponsored by a candle company, which could theoretically skew the results.
At worst, the particulates released can nestle into your lungs and cause cancer, though that hasn't been definitively proven. (It's kinda like how people say that carbs make you fat, but they can't quite prove that it's that bagel you're holding in your hand that makes you fat. The same goes for the research around particulates and candles.)
What's more likely, scented candles can cause allergy symptoms, such as:
- runny nose
- sinus blockage
With conflicting research and advice, it can be tricky to get a clear idea on the concrete safety aspect of burning candles, but there are definite choices you can make when it comes to picking candles that contribute to clean living.
What to Look For in Candle Labels
The Type of Wax
The first thing you want to consider when seeking out clean candles is the type of wax. Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum or coal, which can send unwanted chemicals into the air when burning. This could potentially trigger asthma, allergies, or lead to other health risks.
Not to mention the detrimental effects that burning coal has on the planet.
There are alternatives to paraffin wax and checking the label is one way to make sure you know what you are buying and burning.
Soy candles are a good alternative to paraffin, but you want to delve a little deeper on the label to check that your soy candle is what it says it is. Some labels will cleverly use the suggestion of soy to make you think you are buying a full soy wax candle when instead you are buying up a blend where a little soy is added in with the usual paraffin mix. Always check the ingredients list and make sure you have the numbers on your soy wax blend.
Another option for cleaner wax candles is organic coconut oil. Everyone loves coconut oil and its a staple in the cupboard of clean living. Again, the same rule of thumb applies - some companies will blend up organic coconut wax with paraffin so read the materials on the packaging and look for brands that give you a breakdown of exactly what is in your glass jar.
Candles made from pure beeswax is another solid choice and this has been a method used for centuries. Not only is beeswax natural and unscented but it is also a non-GMO choice. It can't always be vouched for that soybeans are free from pesticides, meaning that for those wanting to make the most environmentally-friendly choice when it comes to lighting a nontoxic candle, organic beeswax could be your solution.
The Type of Fragrance
One of the main draws of scented candles is to fill your home or space with all your favorite scents - from the calming kiss of lavender to the chic and sophisticated scent of bergamot, earthy sandalwood, sweet honeysuckle and spiced cardamom...
...whatever aroma you adore, you can be sure there is a scented candle to suit that need.
But, for those wanting clean candles, it's important to take a closer look at how fragrance manufacturers give candles their scent while keeping things as green as can be.
Unraveling fragrance can be tricky business as many candle companies get away without disclosing their full ingredient list here because of a loophole where they don't need to share 'trade secrets'. One of the safest ways to play it when it comes to looking for sustainability in scented candles is to try and buy essential oil fragrances only. Looking for essential oils can help to keep you clear of allergens and phthalates.
Choose candles with fragrance oil from pure essential oils rather than a synthetic fragrance and look for as much information as you can on how the oil was processed.
Pro Tip: Transparency is always key when looking for a company that deals in the non-toxic candle market. They should be clear on the cardboard box or packaging about where the oil came from and whether it was distilled or steamed from a whole plant of part of a plant.
If scents are starting to get too tricky you can also opt for unscented candles to be sure you are dealing with phthalate-free candles.
There are many ways in which clever marketing can trip you up. Reading phrases like 'natural fragrance' or 'parfume' may tempt you into thinking that aromatherapy candle is clean, but really you want to always be on the lookout for labels that promise 100 percent essential oils.
By the way: This is called "greenwashing" and is a deceptive marketing tactic that has been used for decades.
The Type of Wick
Wicks are just as important as wax when it comes to finding a clean-burning candle. While you may be impressed by a label that says lead-free wick, don't be led astray.
Lead was actually banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2003, meaning that all candles on the shelf should be lead-free anyway.
A candle that claims to have a natural cotton wick also sounds clean and safe to burn, but you really want to look for a sign that the candle in question has an unbleached cotton wick. Most cotton wicks will have been bleached as part of the process. if you don't want to take the risk on an organic cotton wick you could also look for a candle wick made from wood.
Best All-Natural Clean Burning Candles On The Market
For those seeking sustainably sourced candles that burn bright and clean, this mini buying guide is a great place to get started. Take a look at this handful of choices for those who want to steer clear of paraffin wax candles at all costs...
Soy Wax Candles
Brooklyn Candle Studio Sunday Morning
In keeping with our love of Sunday mornings, this candle is 100 percent soy wax with a cotton wick and infused with essential oils. While not completely reliant on essential oils but with a hint of fragrance it's still a solid cleaner burner than many others on the market making it good for the environment. Sweet pear, bergamot, jasmine, and gardenia glisten together providing a truly sensational ambience to chill to.
Coconut Wax Candles
Milk + Honey Candles
Free from paraffin, bleach, and faux fragrance, the Milk + Honey Candles are completely clean with plant-based wax of coconut and soy, unbleached cotton wicks, and essential oils that ooze pleasure and calm. This one is lush lavender and easy earthy eucalyptus to soothe the spirit. Milk + Honey truly put their money where their mouth is when it comes to being one of the best natural candles on the market.
Terralite makes a coconut wax candle splashed and blended with essential oils that come from plants that haven't been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. It also comes with a hemp core wick and is poured into recyclable amber jars and boasts a burn time of 28 hours. The company also do Fair Trade tea lights for those times when you want some smaller flickers to light the way.
Cellar Door Candles
Single ingredients blended from scratch is the tagline that tempts us to burn Cellar Door Candles. A blend of sustainable and organic coconut is blended with beeswax and the essential oils are pure and cold-pressed essential oils from a nearby lavender farm. Add in the fact that this clean candle comes free from any kind of plastic shipping and you have a beautiful beeswax candle that is pure and clean.
Vegetable Wax Candles
One of the best natural wax candles comes from Follain. Made from sustainable vegetable wax, with a cotton wick, and with a whole heap of restricted ingredients, this glorious candle comes with an easy-breezy scent soaked in lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, and a whole host of other goodness too. This candle is a great cruelty-free vegan choice and is also hand-poured in the United States. Follain is truly a candle co ticking all the boxes.
Are you going to be changing your candle maker choices in order to keep your home free from harmful chemicals? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
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