Sustainable Scents: Your Guide to Toxic-Free Candles

Olivia Elsher

Dec 17, 2023

candles sitting on windowsill

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Is there anything better than lighting your favorite candle, curling up with a good book and unwinding from the day? Well, yes — are you lighting toxic-free candles?

Many people don’t realize how many toxins candles emit — some significantly lowering indoor air quality. While it doesn’t mean you should never light candles again, being more conscious about the ingredients is best.

Use this guide to learn about harmful candle substances and which waxes and wicks are safe. Then, discover some of the best toxic-free candle brands for your home.

Why Are Candles Toxic?

The global candle market amounted to $12.88 billion in 2022, with an annual growth rate of 5.7% until 2030. In the U.S., sold candles use a combined 1 billion pounds of wax and come in over 10,000 scents. However, despite making one’s home feel warm and cozy, most candles contain hidden dangers. 

Candle wax contains paraffin, which releases harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when burned — acetone, toluene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and benzene are but a few, the latter attributed to various cancers. 

VOCs can cause liver and kidney damage when inhaled, while fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — from smoke and soot — may exacerbate asthma, irritate eyes and make breathing more difficult. The PM2.5 derived from candles is so diminutive it can settle in the alveoli — small air sacs in the lungs — and may cause respiratory and cardiovascular issues.

Likewise, while the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lead wicks in 2003, some manufacturers use metal wicks containing trace amounts of lead.

What Are Toxic-Free Candles Made Of?

Don’t let paraffin and other harmful ingredients scare you off from lighting your favorite candle at the end of the day. Many brands offer clean, sustainable, toxic-free candles with natural wax ingredients for a safer burn. 

Look for candles with beeswax, palm, coconut, stearin — from animal and vegetable fat and oil — and natural soy wax on the label. These candles may still come in your favorite scent, just without as many VOCs. Candles should also have a cotton or wood wick rather than a metal core.

Keep in mind that fragrances and soot can still irritate your skin and respiratory system, even with safer, non-toxic wax. Likewise, fragrant candles will always emit more VOCs than non-fragrant candles.

Breathe Easier With These 6 Toxic-Free Candles

Finding toxic-free candles for your home is relatively easy. Many companies are changing their product line to meet consumer demands for cleaner alternatives. Here are six toxic-free candle brands and their most popular scent.

1. Fontana Candle Company Spiced Latte Candle

There’s so much to love about Fontana candles, and the Spiced Latte scent is an all-time favorite. This toxic-free candle uses beeswax and coconut oil blended with warm aromatic oils and spices. 

Undertones of ginger, clove, nutmeg and coffee essential oils will have your home smelling like a nutty latte and your favorite baked goods. Better yet, you can enjoy 35–40 hours of burn time for days of relaxation.

Fontana Candle Company is a climate-friendly brand sealed by MADE SAFE, which vets products for 6,500 harmful ingredients.

$29.49 on Amazon

2. Hemlock Park Palo Santo Candle

You don’t get any more natural than Hemlock Park’s Palo Santo candle, made with coconut wax and a wood wick. You’ll especially love the slight crackle it makes — much like a cozy campfire.

Fill your home with soothing Palo Santo wood notes, cedar, citrus, peppercorn and white sage. All Hemlock Park candles are manufactured using sustainably sourced herbs, plants and other flora from the Sierra Nevadas.

If you prefer a different scent, Hemlock Park has other fragrances, including blood orange and sage, lavender, eucalyptus, cucumber matcha and pumpkin cream. 

$24.95 on Amazon

3. Meyers Clean Day Lavender Soy Candle

The Mrs. Meyers Clean Day brand is synonymous with cleanliness and relaxation. As such, one should expect nothing less than the most thoughtful, toxic-free products, including its candles.

Kick off your shoes and relax with the smell of fresh lavender — a tin candle made with natural soy wax and a lead-free wick. Mrs. Meyers promises candles without parabens, paraffin or artificial coloring.

You can even get all your other favorite cleaning supply scents in candle form, such as basil, honeysuckle, peony and lemon verbena. 

$8.36 on Amazon

4. Homesick New Home Candle

So, what should a new home smell like anyway? According to Homesick, top notes of jasmine and cedarwood with lime, oakmoss, musk and sandalwood make the quintessential “new home” fragrance. 

Homesick bottles up your favorite places — whether your hometown, your best travel experience or your favorite Sunday brunch spot. Each jar contains a natural soy wax blend and a 100% organic cotton wick. For the eco-friendly consumer, the jars are also reusable after your candle’s 60–80-hour burn time is through. 

Get ready to be transported to somewhere faraway and magical. This popular brand only sells toxic-free candles without plastics, phthalates, parabens and synthetic dyes. 

$38 on Amazon

5. Bluecorn Unscented Pillar Candles

Sometimes, you just want to light candles for the ambiance rather than the scent. Besides, unscented candles have the least harmful emissions of all types of candles.

Made from 100% pure beeswax, Bluecorn unscented pillar candles have undergone multiple rounds of filtering to remove honey and pollen, giving them their ivory hue. 

Customers most appreciate these candles’ 25-hour burn time and durability — none of which contain paraffin, soy, synthetic fragrances or metal wicks. 

Fill a non-working fireplace with Bluecorn’s pillar candles in different heights or create a holiday centerpiece for a beautiful candlelit dinner. There are endless design options with plain, unscented candles.

$23.13 on Amazon

6. P.F. Candle Co. Amber & Moss Scented Soy Wax Candle

Based in Los Angeles, California, P.F. Candle Co. prides itself on its toxic-free candles that are vegan and cruelty-free. All jars are filled with 100% natural soy wax grown domestically. Each product has a cotton wick with 40–50 hours of burn time.

The Amber & Moss Scented Candle was part of P.F. Candle Co.’s first collection — an earthy fragrance reminiscent of a stroll through the mountains at dusk.

Other popular scents from this line include Black Fig, Golden Coast, Red Nutmeg & Peppercorn and Los Angeles.

$28 on Amazon

Burn Bright and Clean With Toxic-Free Candles

Protect your health and home with non-toxic candles made from natural ingredients. Be sure to read the labels to determine if a candle is clean enough to breathe in. You can still enjoy all your favorite scents without emitting harmful chemicals.

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