12 Sustainable, Non-Toxic Candle Brands
February 8, 2020 • 4 min read
Candles are romantic, relaxing and atmospheric, giving us all the slow living and self-care feels. The simple ritual of striking a match, lighting a candle and watching the flame flicker is enough to envelope us in a cloud of tranquility, while reminding us to breathe and take a moment to pause and be still.
While any flame, from the tiniest flicker to a roaring fire is captivating and mesmerizing, what we’ve learned is that not all candles are made equal. Mainstream candles are often made from paraffin wax. This is the cheapest material to make candles from, so unsurprisingly, it is the most common. Another name for paraffin wax is mineral wax, which you might see on labels. The problem with candles made from paraffin wax is the substance itself – paraffin is made from a petroleum by-product (often unethical palm oil), which is essentially the grey sludge at the bottom of the barrel of gas. It is bleached and processed before it is thought suitable to work with.
The Environment Protection Agency has detected seven major toxins in paraffin wax, and hasn’t even tested for a whole host of other unknown chemicals. When we light candles made from paraffin, we are basically filling our homes, spaces and lungs with toxic air pollution (chemicals like toluene and benzene) and that release carbon soot. In 2004, researchers from Maastrict University found levels of polycyclic hydrocarbons in churches that exceeded levels measured next to main roads (this is 20x higher than what is considered safe to breathe under European air pollution standards). They were shocked to discover that it was the cheap church candles causing this.
The most well-known alternative to paraffin wax is soy wax. Soy wax candles are a massive improvement from paraffin (if you are ever in doubt, always go for soy), but they are also not without their concerns. 94% of soy agriculture in the US is GMO, meaning the soybean crops have been sprayed with tons of pesticides. Soy wax requires intensive chemical processing in order to bring it to oil form. Additionally, the WWF has raised concerns about deforestation, mostly in South America, associated with the increase in soy demand. It can be hard for small-scale candle makers to trace the farms from which their soy wax derives from, as they often get it from bulk suppliers. When buying soy wax candles, it’s best to go for organic soy wax or non-GMO.
Beeswax and coconut wax are amongst the most sustainable waxes. They both burn clean and slowly, with beeswax famous for its incredibly bright flame. But with anything, ensuring you’re buying from farms and makers who support ethical farming techniques is vital.
These 12 candle brands are approved for their sustainability, non-toxic waxes, and ethical efforts. While many are soy-coconut blends, we always go for what’s better than the mainstream. Finding a completely organic candle is very difficult, so we chose what we thought was best in terms of scent profiles (clean essential oils versus chemical fragrances), waxes that are better than paraffin, and cotton or wooden wicks (not lead). We believe in the philosophy of “progress over perfection” so while we want to be transparent in educating you on the pros and cons of each wax type, we also know that baby steps are essential to growth, and that none of these waxes will degrade the air quality of your home. These candles are made by small-scale makers who source high-quality ingredients for their craft.
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Made from sustainably-sourced pure English beeswax from The London Honey Company, these hand-dipped stubby candles emit a subtle honey scent. Their beautiful golden colour is natural and undyed, straight from the hives. These calming candles will glow and fill your room with the warming sweet scent that only little wonderous bees can create, and the flame will be the brightest you’ve seen yet. Sold in pairs.
Pure Beeswax Stubby Candles
The Future Kept
These tapers are made from Vancouver Island beeswax, naturally perfumed with the subtle warm, sweet fragrance of honey and fair-trade, sustainably-harvested frankincense resin. These black pure beeswax candles create a beautiful ambiance with their very special natural light, as their golden flames glow with the same spectrum of light as the sun. Exceptionally long burn times for those intimate evening gatherings.
Pure Beeswax Taper Set
These hand-rolled beeswax ritual candles have been created to support your own at home rituals in self-care, intention setting and meditation. Carlyn launched her line as a way for people to get clear on the life they want to create. At the bottom of every candle lies a crystal which has been imbued with your intention. Made with pure beeswax, non-toxic dyes, 100% cotton wick and a clear Quartz crystal.
These beautiful soy/organic coconut wax candles are petroleum-free, GMO-free and phthalate-free, throwing their scent well and filling up the room with soothing vibes, reminiscent of a crackling fire in a log cabin. With immune boosting cinnamon, these Vancouver-made candles come in a reusable and recyclable glass jar, paper box and no plastic when shipped. Crafted from ethical ingredients with the intention to uplift mind + mood.
Expertly hand-poured in the UK by skilled artisans and enclosed within a hand-blown recycled glass jar, these candles are a perfect union of fragrance and natural wax, a blend of rapeseed and soy. Within the next five years, the brand aims to support non-profit campaigns, as well as offset their carbon and water waste. Filling the luxury candle market’s gap, founder Sarah Bell created this vegan, sustainable option.
With the belief that scent is essential to one’s personal journey, the two friends behind Lohn own Toronto’s only custom scent studio. Their hand-poured candles are made with botanically-based scents, an organic coconut and soy wax blend, a non-toxic cotton core wick and a recyclable glass jar. The artwork on the paper boxes is unique and gorgeous, and each candle is vegan, cruelty-free, phthalate-free and lead-free.
Erde + Feu Candles
Hand-poured in Vancouver, these soy candles are all cruelty-free, made with high quality paraben-free and phthalate-free essential oil fragrances. Created to burn cleanly, this custom blend wax is 100% biodegradable, free from toxins, made from vegetables and a renewable source. With lead-free cotton wicks and wooden wicks that are FSC Certified, the jars are recyclable and each purchase plants a tree in North America.
Mala the Brand (use code FORAGE10 for 10% off)
Made by hand, each collection is a collaboration with skilled global artisans. Vessels are mouth-blown glass in 100% post-consumer waste packaging. They have a soy as well as natural beeswax collection, and fragrances are phthalate-free. With aiming to be as sustainable as possible, this brand doesn’t sacrifice style or quality, and creates the dreamiest candles for any occasion and scent preference.
Devotion + Purple Flower
Hand-made soy wax candles, each Octo candle is lovingly hand-poured at home in London by founders Leva and François, using the finest and most natural ingredients. Vegan, synthetic and chemical-free, these candles are scented with 100% natural essential oils and use cotton, lead-free wicks. Packaged in recycled cardboard and in a glass container, these candles are affordable and calming.
Inspired by founder Rachael’s travels and love of the outdoors, Hobo makes candles out of eco-friendly soy wax in the quaint town of Lincolnshire, England. With a double unbleached cotton wick in a reusable and recyclable glass jar, these candles are simple and classic in design, meant to make any room feel cozy and relaxed. The unique scent profiles are different than any on the market, making these candles the perfect gift.
Raspberry + Peppercorn
Hobo + Co
A design studio sitting on 140 acres of South Carolina heaven on a sleepy island, these candles are poured amongst tea fields and greenery. Using 100% American grown soy wax, these vessels are made from frosted glass with a handmade paper label. Shipped to you in a white cotton bag inside of a box, this plastic-free candle creates swoon-worthy scents including ingredients like salt, sea grass and kelp.
Hand-poured in East London, founders Niko and Paul’s passion project has grown into a team of 18. With a love of fragrance and the pillars rooted in creativity, curation, collaboration and community, these soy wax candles are luxurious yet affordable. Creating a feeling of being in an opulent wood-panelled Victorian townhouse, Elementary is sweet with a timeless quality like an antique cabinet or aged leather armchair.
Earl of East London
Additional – Birthday Candles
Handmade in Lithuania from local famers’ beeswax, these birthday candles are natural, non-toxic and have no artificial scent or colour added. They’re devoid of glitter and dyes that mainstream birthday candles are drenched with, making them safe and way better for our planet. Their delicate multicoloured wicks add a bit of fun to any cake and celebration.
Beeswax Birthday Candles
Made from 100% beeswax with cotton wicks, these adorable numbered candles are the perfect replacement for mainstream, store-bought numbers that are usually made from unsustainable and toxic paraffin, and that are covered in toxic dyes and glitter. These simple yet beautiful candles are a brilliant way to ring in another year around the sun, with a burn time of 25 minutes.
Beeswax Number Candles
Goldrick Natural Living
Some of these candles were in sponsored or in collaboration with Forage & Sustain. With stringent requirements, I only work with brands whose visions and ethos align with my own. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.
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