Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Sooooo I’m a little obsessed with candles (what witch isn’t?). There is just something so comforting about how they flicker and cast their warm glow throughout a space. I used to be that kid (and I guess now adult) who can’t help but stop and smell the candles at a store. Now I used them all the time, as either mood lighting or for my yoga or witchy practices. Candles after all connect to the element of fire and are used for invoking creativity, passion, and action.
Being a candle collector, I was curious about the types of candles out there. Just like cleaning supplies and bath products, were some candles healthier for you, your home, and the environment? Well low and behold, I discovered that all candles are not created equal.
The candle industry has different types of waxes they use in their products. Here is a breakdown of the types of waxes used and where they stand when it comes to sustainability and being green:
This type of wax is not only the most common but also the worst for our environment. It’s made from a petroleum based byproduct and releases soot and off-gassing chemicals when lit. This is often a stand-alone wax or mixed with other types of waxes such as soy or palm.
Soy candles are made from soybean oil which is altered into wax. Many soy-based candle companies actually don’t use 100% soy and use a mixture of either beeswax/soy or worse, soy/paraffin. For a sustainable candle option, get one that is 100% soy. You want as close to organic as possible (and definitely all natural). Technically you cannot have 100% organic soy candles. I was surprised when finding this out, but due to the process of turning soybean oil into wax, chemicals are added. So even if a company uses 100% organic soy (which is rare since 90% of all USA soy is GMO) they still cannot claim to be organic.
When it comes to Beeswax candles, I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. On one hand, Beeswax candles are all natural. Made by bees they require no chemical alternations in order to produce the wax. They also offer health benefits. When burned, they release negative ions which help balance out the positive charged ions, helping with air pollutants and allergies. They also burn longer and don’t drip, making them safer to use.
But while beeswax is a healthy candle option, the truth is that in our current state of the world, bees need their wax. With bees now being on the endangered species list, it’s important that we don’t overwork or overstress our bees with the high demand of their byproducts such as their honey and wax. These are items the bees make in order to survive and the only way I see bee byproducts being an ethical and sustainable option is if we are taking only the excess of what the bees produce. I do support the activity of bees and local beekeepers, as we need them and their pollination in order to survive. Many vegans do not support the consumption of bee byproducts, so if this is something you value, there are other candle options out there to consider.
Other Plant Based Waxes
There are other plant based waxes on the market besides Soy. Palm and Coconut are two other common waxes used for candles, however just because they’re made from plants, this doesn’t mean that it’s a sustainable option. Palm oil and wax comes from the palm tree. Deforestation and the destruction of natural wildlife is a HUGE issue regarding palm oil and other palm byproducts. Therefore, this plant-based wax is not a sustainable option.
Coconut wax is a better alternative to Palm, as it doesn’t require the cutting down of a tree. Fair-trade practices should still be taken into account when purchasing Coconut based candles, to ensure that famers are being treated fairly for their harvests. Coconut oil is said to burn longer and be cleaner than soy based candles. So why haven’t you heard of coconut wax candles? Well, they are pretty expensive, so most companies will use cheaper waxes or a blend in their products.
Aside from the wax base, other aspects to consider when looking for healthy and environmentally friendly candles is the wick and what is used in creating the scents.
Metal wicks release chemicals into the atmosphere when burned, while pure cotton wicks burn more naturally. Another way chemicals are released is through the off-gassing of the scents. A lot of candle companies use artificial scents which contain pesticides and chemicals. Look for companies that use pure essential oils for their smells.
So much to think about when it comes to candles! I know, it was an educational experience for me as well….but don’t worry, I’m not going to just throw a bunch of knowledge at you without giving you some resources. I’ve put together a list of great sustainable candle options. In coming up with this list of candle companies, I’ve decided to focus on 100% soy candles that use natural ingredients such as cotton wicks and essential oils for the scents.
Here is my list of candle companies that fit the bill:
These candles speak to my gypsy soul. With scents like Alchemist, Bohemian and Mojave Rain, it’s the perfect gift for those free spirits. Their amber jars also give off that moody and warm glow, which perfectly suits a bohemian bungalow.
Made with 100% natural ingredients, these candles use soy, essential oils, and cotton wicks. Made by a couple based out of London, they are a simple and beautiful addition to a shelf, tabletop or ledge. Set in amber glass, these candles give off a nice warm glow for those cold winter months! Try their Pine Needles candle for the perfect smell this season.
Reading her story, Rachel started making candles in 2013 and hasn’t stopped! Inspired by her travels and love of the outdoors, her candles are made with 100% pure ingredients. She’s got a variety of scents and sizes….even travel sized tins so you can bring them in your suitcase while flying this holiday season.
Another UK brand, Vegan Bunny actually won Peta UK’s ‘Best Vegan Candle of the Year‘ Award. They use natural and pure ingredients and come in cute jars that remind me of Beatrice Potter’s Peter Cottontail. They advertise that they do have a special ingredient in all their candles….love! Maybe that’s why they won best candle of the year. Try their holiday scents Christmas Tree and Mulled Wine.
Made in Atlanta, Georgia, this Etsy Shop uses natural ingredients fashioned in cute glass jars, perfect for that Southern charm feel. They come in your classic scents, which is sometimes all you need. No fluff, just a good old fashion pure and simple candle.
Thistle Farms is a candle company with a great cause. Their mission is to support women recovering from sex-trafficking, prostitution or addiction. They provide a 2 year residential program for survivors, giving them food, a home, and the tools and support they need to thrive. They have other options aside from candles, such as bath salts and lotions, which are also free of chemicals and preservatives.
Created by two yogis, Made By Coopers Apothecary uses a mixture of essential oils in their products, so you reap the benefits of aromatherapy with each jar. They also offer other products such as room sprays, balms, and bath salts.
If you love yummy scented candles, this is the candle company for you. They have a range of unique scents to choose from, including options like Witches Brew and Birthday Cake. They also offer customizable options, making it a personal gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list. I love that there is even a zodiac collection making them a great gift for the EcoSpiritual gal pal in your life.
This company is like the Yankee Candle of sustainability. A larger company, Pure Plant Home even has a few Brick & Mortar stores. They use sustainable coconut wax for their candles and have classic scents that have a fancy twist to them, such as Indonesian Clove & Cardamon with Vanilla. It’s a great gift option for the non-hippies in your life.
Acacia Accents is an Etsy Shop with over 18 different scents to choose from. She uses soy wax, essential oils and cotton wicks on her candles, making this shop another great eco-conscious choice.
I think PaddyWax is your one-stop-shop to all your candle needs. Featured in Cosmopolitan, Allure, and other fashion magazines, PaddyWax is eco-friendly done chic! They offer a variety of smells and sizes. They even have different jar styles so you can get the perfect vessel that suits your decor. Don’t these cute holiday scents remind you of stained glass?
A husband and wife team, P.F. Candle Co got started after Kristen lost her job in the 2008 recession. They now employ over 43 people! Their candles either come in apothecary amber jars or terra-cotta pots, both cute options! Plus, they’ve got Oprah’s seal of approval so there’s that.
This UK based candle company took eco-friendly candles to the next level by reusing vintage and found jars for their candles. It’s apart of their Reclaimed Collection. Keep the cycle going by reusing the jar after it’s finished. They make for cute succulent pots or makeup brush holders.
This company’s moody vibe is perfect for the witchy woman. They have a couple collections to choose from, based on the type of aromas you are drawn towards. Personally, the Temple of Leaves or Forest Floor candles from the Garden & Forest Collection sound right up my alley.