Looking for a nice eco-friendly candle to light up the room? Now we are well into fall, there is nothing better than snuggling up with a hot cup of tea, a blanket and a candle. But did you know conventional candles can actually have a negative impact on the environment and your health? I mean, it makes sense right? If you are burning something, it is letting off chemicals into the air, which you are then breathing in! And, FYI, most of the candles sold in stores are made from paraffin wax, is essentially derived from coal, petroleum or oil shale – no thanks! However, all hope is not lost. If you are like me and love to snuggle up with a candle in the fall, simply switch out your more toxic candles to some lovely, sustainable, zero waste and eco-friendly candles!
FYI, this is a guest post written by Little By Lottie, a zero waste advocate and blogger. This post contains affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase one of these items I will make a very small commission at no extra charge to you. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.
The Best Eco-Friendly Candles For a Non-Toxic Home
What is the most environmentally friendly candle?
I would say that some of the most eco-friendly candles have several qualities. First, they are made using natural and organic wax. They should have cotton or wooden wicks – specifically avoiding metallic wicks. I also think it’s important to think about the after-life of the packaging. It is definitely worth making sure that the glass jars are something you would love to reuse around your home and won’t pop it straight in the trash when the candle has burnt out.
For some of my favorite recommendations, taking all these things into consideration, check out some of the products later on in this post.
What is the most eco-friendly candle wax?
As with a lot of things in the sustainability sphere, this is not a straightforward question. Most people, however, would probably say that coconut wax or beeswax are the most sustainable types of wax you can opt for. The reason it is a tricky question is because even with natural waxes, there are unsustainable and unethical practices that can happen behind the scenes. Therefore, it is hard to say definitively.
However, something I always look for is that it isn’t paraffin wax, I will talk about this a bit more later on.
Why are candles bad for you?
Most of the problems from candles stem from the fact the vast majority of them are made from paraffin wax. There is some evidence to suggest that the chemicals released from burning paraffin wax – known as carcinogens – may be associated with developing asthma and lung cancer. This works in very much the same was as a diesel fuelled car, not something I would particularly want in my living room!
I have mentioned in some of my previous posts about the dangers of artificial fragrances, and candles are very much the same. These synthetic fragrances and colorings also give off more carcinogens such as acetone, benzene and toluene – even at room temperature. It is best to look for candles with natural ingredients to avoid this.
The final problem I will touch on here is metallic cores in candle wicks. These are used for stability in the wick but when burned can release metallic traces into the air. Historically, lead cores were the problem – which I am sure I don’t need to explain further. Now, zinc and tin are more commonly used. While the issue is minimised, even modern wicks have the potential to have slight impurities in the metal so there is still a risk of lead particles being released. It is best, therefore, to avoid metallic wicks altogether.
Can candles be eco-friendly?
Yes absolutely! There are tons of amazing and innovative companies that have developed eco-friendly candles. In fact, there are even people out there that feel so strongly that eco-friendly candles should be readily available that they have dedicated their lives to developing them. Keep reading to find out which companies are my favorites.
Are Yankee candle eco-friendly?
As much as I wish they were, because let’s be real… they smell INCREDIBLE, sadly Yankee Candles aren’t eco-friendly. Despite the fact they come in glass containers, the candle itself isn’t good for the environment as they are made of paraffin wax. It is not all doom and gloom, unlike many candles, they are free from lead wicks and they do use natural essential oils in their fragrances. Although, they are not the worst they are certainly not the best so I recommend trying out some of the brands I mention later on.
What are the cleanest candles to burn?
The best eco-friendly candles are made of 100% beeswax, soy wax or vegetable waxes such as coconut wax – in order to minimize your environmental impact. There are so many options out there and everyone will have their own criteria to fulfill. For instance, if you are vegan then beeswax probably isn’t for you. I would say, as long as you are doing your best to avoid paraffin wax, artificial fragrances and metallic cores you are most likely on the right track.
Do candles contribute to global warming?
To some extent, yes they do. Paraffin wax – the most widely used wax in candles is incredibly effective at holding beautiful scents, however there are environmental impacts. Paraffin itself is actually a by-product of petroleum production AKA a fossil fuel.
There is, of course, the obvious impact of air pollution, which I have already touched on but there are also further things to consider. For instance, while some candles are packaged in glass – many have plastic components, yet another material derived from fossil fuels.
The extraction of crude oil to make these petroleum-based products is incredibly damaging to the environment, not to mention the polluting factories they’re made in. Plus, you’ll never know about all the unethical conditions that took place to extract and manufacture the petroleum. It’s best to switch to sustainable and ethically made candles that aren’t mass produced.
Are Bath and Body Works candles toxic?
This is very similar to Yankee Candle. While Bath and Body Works candles have undergone extensive testing, there is still the risk of toxins being released into the air due to the use of paraffin wax. If you really can’t bare to move away from Bath and Body Works candles, I would suggest trying their Signature Collection Candles as these are classed as vegetable wax candles and are therefore more sustainable. Personally, I prefer to vote with my dollar and purchase from companies where their entire ranges focus on sustainability but this is just personal to me.
Which is better: soy or beeswax candles?
In my opinion, beeswax candles are better. They are slow burning, truly natural and don’t release the harmful chemicals that paraffin wax does. This will differ from person to person as a vegan for instance, may not want to use beeswax. Soy wax is actually quite a controversial one, and I personally prefer beeswax candles over soy ones for this reason. The whole of the soy industry has been linked to deforestation, particularly the Amazon rainforest, and also, there is a higher risk of being exposed to pesticides due to soy being produced in many instances as a GMO crop, although not always. Like I say, this is largely personal preference and if you are really interested, I suggest you do some more research for yourself.
Which is the best eco candles?
While this is a largely subjective question, I do have some of my favorite tried and tested candles below. Why not check them out and see which ones you might like to try for yourself!
- Coconut Wax Candle
- Vegan Friendly
- 100% unbleached cotton wide wick
- Certified organic essential oil scents
- Reusable wine glass or whisky tumbler
- Female Owned
The story behind this brand is truly remarkable. Rebecca, the founder, was diagnosed with breast cancer and she made it her mission to eliminate toxins from her home and so Sanari Candle was born. All of their candles are produced with vegan, non-toxic wax and are packaged in tree free paper and soy ink. The sustainable focus doesn’t end with the packaging, the candle itself is in a recycled and recyclable glass jar, and the wick is made of 100% organic and unbleached cotton.
- Domestically Grown Soy Wax
- Large, Standard or Mini Candles
- Hand Poured
- 12 different Scents
- Other fragrance options
PF Candle co is run by a husband and wife pair based in Los Angeles. All of their products are always vegan, cruelty free and phthalate-free and their candles are made with domestically grown soy wax. They really are at the top of the sustainable fragrance game with candles, reed diffusers, car fragrance and basically everything you could ever possibly need in terms of fragrance. There are various sizes of eco-friendly candles on offer in tons of scents – my personal favorite is lavender!
- GMO Free Soy Wax
- Hand Poured
- Supports National Parks
- Quirky Designs
- B Corp
United by Blue are a B Corp Certified Company who have a wide range of products from clothing and bags to homewares. Within their range are some of my absolute favorite looking candles. Within their main range, their soy wax candles are in reusable glass containers with hand drawn labels. They also have alternative ranges, some which support national trusts and have the awesome property of being able to light matches on the containers themselves! The final range is essentially quirky homewares such as paint tin style candles which I have to say I absolutely love!
- American Grown Soy Wax
- Cruelty Free
- 9 Gorgeous Scents
- Uses Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils
These beautifully hand poured candles are a really great option for both avoiding plastic waste and paraffin wax. They have the most gorgeous, luxurious style packaging – which you should totally repurpose! You can be sure that from the cotton wicks that you won’t be unknowingly releasing harmful metal extracts into the air, polluting your home. All of the fragrances are totally natural and absolutely stunning, these really are a must try.
- Soy-apricot-coconut Wax Candle
- Premium Product
- Reusable Ceramic Vessel
- Cruelty Free
Phlur have to be one of the most premium brands on this list, but they are totally worth the money. They are 8oz candles in the most gorgeous and simplistic ceramic vessel. They are so popular that I have seen times where every single candle is sold out on their website, so if you see them in stock… you have to grab yourself one! There are some brands out there that slightly compromise on the performance of their products in aid of saving the planet, but Phlur really don’t. There is zero compromise on quality and are still super sustainable candles. Why not spoil yourself or a loved one and give them a go.
- Domestically Grown Soy Wax
- Completely Manufactured in the USA
- 4 Scents to Try
- Long Lasting Burn
I don’t think I have ever said this before but these candles have a really sexy vibe to them. Is that weird? They are hand poured and made with so much love in Upstate New York and they really just beautiful. The containers are simplistic and yet so classy, made from completely recycled and recyclable glass and handmade.
- Soy Wax Candle
- Not Certified Organic
- Cotton Wick
- 6 Scents to Try
The first thing you will notice if you look on the website is these candles are a little bit… DIRTY! The candle itself is dark and seductive, while the cardboard packaging is a little riske! Look up Dirty Gingerbread if you want to know what I mean. They describe themselves as “provocative plant-based fragrances” so may not be suitable to have around children but if you want to try something a little bit naughty and want to treat yourself I can’t recommend these enough.
- Coconut-Soy Wax Candle
- 100% GOTS certified organic cotton Wick
- All ingredients are Traceable
- Hand Blown glass
- Recycled + Compostable Packaging
Nette has a joint goal of making sure their products are high quality for both you and the environment. This company has gorgeous hand blown glass containers which can add a pop of color to any room. Plus, they are the first company to have 100% GOTS certified organic cotton in their wick and are super focused on trying to do things right. Last but not least, they use recycled shoeboxes for their outer packaging and use plant based inks, meaning the packaging is compostable.
9. Satya + Sage
- Soy and Coconut Wax Blend Candle
- Reusable and Recycled glass vessel
- Women Owned
The first words you’ll read on their website are “Embrace your inner goddess” – and I LOVE THIS! This is exactly what burning candles should be about. The packaging is absolutely stunningly simple, and has an air of calm about it. There are four gorgeous scents which I urge you to try and they are a little more affordable than some of the other candles on this list, so if you’re just branching out into eco-friendly candles, this is a must try. Each scent is inspired by a place that Son-ja Haile, the founder, has visited which is such a lovely idea!
- Virgin coconut soy wax blend
- Wooden Wick
- Pet Friendly
- Reusable Glass Vessel
- Handmade in New Jersey
- Cruelty-Free + Vegan
These beautifully hand crafted candles are truly focused around wellness and sustainability. The packaging has a pure vibe to it and all of the scents are divine. If you have a pet, I am sure you’re aware of the need to be careful with essential oils, well rest assured, these are perfectly safe. On top of that, they are also cruelty free and vegan too!
11. Ritual and Fancy
- Soy Wax
- Wooden Wick
- POC owned
- Female Owned
We are all about empowering and supporting women, especially those who are POC and by supporting this company you can do both in one! All their candles are handmade in the USA and have the most gorgeous little colorful detail on the top of them. They have tons of lovely scents to try but my absolute favorite is Apple Spice, so I highly recommend you give that one ago – it is perfect for a lovely fall evening.
12. Public Goods
- Soy Wax Candles
- Cotton wicks
- Essential oil blends
- 3 sizes available
- Made in USA
- Vegan Friendly
- Upcycle-ready glass jar
If you are anything like me, there is something about 3 wick candles that just make your heart sing! Not only that, but Public Goods are also a super affordable brand. They are 100% plastic free as they have a super innovative wooden lid. The candle jars are also completely “upcycle ready” which is something to get excited about. Public Goods encourages you to turn the glass jars into storage containers for all sorts of things around your home: loose jewelry, pantry items, art supplies, or your coin collection are great examples.
- Beeswax Candles
- Not Vegan
- Tealights, Votives or Vessel Candles
- Pure Essential Oils
- Non-Metal Wick
Ever dream of a bubble bath surrounded by lots of tea lights? Well, this company can create that idyllic scenario all whilst boasting eco-friendly candles. They have a wide variety of different styles from tea lights and votives to big three wick vessel candles too. This company have a beautiful story where the founder lived in a cabin and learnt to dip candles in candlelight as they had no electricity! How wonderful is that?
- Pure Soy Wax Candles
- Wild Flower Paper Labels
- Reusable candle pot as planter
- Vegan Friendly
- Small Batch Production
- Cotton Wick
Hyggelight Growing Candles are truly unique. When you order one of their sustainable candles, their labels are made of wild flower paper so once the candle has been burnt, you can reuse the pot as a planter for your new flowers. They also have some really stunning designs for the planters that will look good in any home so I totally recommend checking out this small company from Ohio.
15. Keap Candles
- Coconut Wax Candles
- Returnable Glass Vessels
- 100% compostable packaging
- Subscription Service with Exclusive Scents
- Vegan Friendly
This is one of the only companies I have found which have a returnable container policy, and I am loving it! They also have a candle subscription service which is ideal for anyone who loves candles as much as I do! There are currently eight different scents but if you are a subscriber you get access to a further three scents. They also are well and truly focused on sustainability. Coconut Wax is one of the most sustainable options when it comes to wax and all of their packaging, including their shipping label, is home compostable! Talk about a zero waste candle, ey?
What do you think of these zero waste candles? Will you be giving any of them a try?
Looking for another kind of room freshener? Try this DIY zero waste air freshener – without the chemicals!
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Guest post: Hi, my name is Lottie and I have my own zero waste blog too (it’s littlebylottie.co.uk if you want to check it out or @littlebylottie on Instagram). I live across the pond in England and am super passionate about sharing easy changes you can make in your life to have a huge impact on the planet. I’ve been lucky enough to have a chat with Ariana on a few occasions. I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to write for her page.