Burning candles can introduce various toxins into your home. If you want to light a clean burning candle, select one of the best following some basic guidelines. Look for a candle that will affect your air quality the least. Soy candles, beeswax candles, and vegetable-wax based candles that are 100% (not blended with paraffin) are your best options.
Lite + Cycle
Mind Body Green recommends Lite + Cycle candles for several reasons, such as being 100% non-GMO American grown soy wax featuring unbleached cotton wick. They are also a great option if you want a scented candle, since they are made from 100% pure essential oils. Look for fragrances like in urban forest, bergamot, vetiver, sage, and lavender. Candles will cost around $62 each.
Honey Candles are Green America Approved. They use 100% pure beeswax, made in British Columbia, Canada. The company sells a variety of candles that range from ornamental to taper to traditional pillars and votives. Most of the candles are unscented carrying a natural honey scent while the Essentials Line feature a variety of scents perfumed from 100% pure essential oils. Pricing varies depending on the candle you select; costs start at around $2 for tea light candles to around $47 3"x7" pillar to a specialty 3-wick drip 6" x 6.25" pillar candle for around $200 with all price ranges in between.
Follain No. 1
Harper's Bazaar lists Follain candles as the #1 non-toxic candle. The candles are made from sustainable soy, cotton seed and coconut oils. The candles are scented with essential oils and feature unbleached cotton wicks. The No. 1 scent is a blend of scents that include bergamot, lavender, sandalwood and vanilla. Follain candles are hand-poured. The company website provides a list of ingredients that are never included in the candles, so you're ensured of a safe burning candle. Expect to pay around $38 for a 10-ounce candle.
Branch Basics recommends Beverly Bees candles. These candles are made from 100% pure local beeswax. You can shop for votives, figurines, pillars, container candles, tea lights, and tapers that feature solid cotton wicks. The pricing ranges from $1 to $36.
Cellar Door Candles
Organic Authority includes Cellar Door Candles on its list of non-toxic scented candles that smell great. They are made from coconut wax and pure beeswax and scented with natural or essential oils. Organic Authority describes the scents as musky with an earthy smell or a comforting sweetness. One of the features touted is the company's candle subscription program. The Cellar Door Candles website states they only use cold pressed ingredients without any type of chemical processes. The candles cost around $15 to $48 and come in scents like Tokyo citrus, Pacific Northwest and Lemon verbena & ginger.
Guidelines for Selecting a Clean Candle
The exact candle you buy isn't as important as making sure the candle was made to minimize your health risks. You'll want to seek out candles made from waxes and ingredients with the least amount of potential pollutants and fewest irritants.
What to Look For
Some candles have cleaner burning properties than others. Green America, American Chemical Society, and Mother Earth Living (MEL) recommend the following as cleaner burning candles:
- Are made from 100% beeswax, vegetable-based waxes, or soy
- Feature wicks made from cotton
- Have 100% essential oils for fragrance
What to Avoid
South Carolina State University's 2009 study on candle wax showed that paraffin candle wax produced toxic chemicals and pollutants, so many people advise using only vegetable-based wax candles. The Environmental Protection Agency's report in 2001 advised avoiding lead wicks and in 2003, lead wicks were banned in the U.S. Additionally, soot creates an issue when burning candles, especially "super scented" ones, according to the EPA.
Soot-Free Candle Claims
While candle makers may claim their candles are soot-free, there is ongoing controversy over whether any candle can truly be considered "soot-free." The National Candle Association (NCA) offers tips, like keeping wicks trimmed, in order to minimize soot. However, the U.S. Candle Company did decide to put the soot claim to test and found that soy candles do produce less soot when burned under the same conditions. MEL notes that beeswax candles also seem to produce less soot than their paraffin counterparts.
Particles and Heavy Metal Emissions From Non-Soot Candles
The Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark's Environmental Protection Agency published its Survey and Risk Assessment of Particle and Heavy Metal Emissions from Candles in 2017. The study measured lead and nickel levels in the wax and wicks. Burn particles were collected in filters. The study found that the candles emitted large quantities of particles, but concluded the mass was small and the levels of exposure weren't harmful. In fact, the metal emissions were lower than the EU limit. The report suggested that consumers select non-soot candles since this significantly reduces the emission of particles.
How to Determine Healthy, Non-Toxic Candles
The NCA cites of all the studies conducted on waxes, including petroleum-based paraffin candles, none proved candle emissions to be harmful to human health. The organization reiterates that some people are scent-sensitive and may have allergic reactions to candle scents. According to the NCA, most soot issues arise from too long a wick. You can lessen or avoid candle soot from most candles by trimming the wick to 1/4" above the candle. You may need to trim the wick each time you use it to prevent the flame from being disturbed by air movement and causing soot problems.
Dangers of Synthetic Fragrances
The Children's Environmental Health Network warns that synthetic fragrances are often made from petroleum-based chemicals that can be harmful to humans, especially children. These can be in the form of phthalates, known to disrupt endocrine function and several known carcinogens.
Stay Healthy Burning Candles
If you're concerned about potential health risks, you will want to get the cleanest burning candles you can buy. Look for a recommended type and follow basic guidelines to stay healthy while enjoying the soft scent and glow of a candle at home.