Clean beauty and natural home products are all the rage, as they should be — who doesn’t want to give back to the planet while looking out for their own health and wellness? Candles are a great way to explore your knowledge of natural home products. While plenty of people love to burn delicious scents in their homes, not every candle you light is going to be safe in terms of chemicals and ingredients.
It’s important to pay attention to what you’re breathing in, especially in a closed environment like your home. Toxicity is a spectrum. There isn’t always a black and white. Some ingredients are safer than others, and it’s important to do what we can with what we know. That being said, there are a few basics you can keep in mind while you shop around for a candle you totally love.
1. Go Natural
While “organic is always better” is a bit of a blanket statement, you can more or less take this one for its word when it comes to candles and aromatherapy. Artificial fragrances are often formulated with chemicals that are harmful to the respiratory system and even the brain after repeated exposure. While this doesn’t have to be the case with every instance of artificial fragrance, it’s much better to go for formulas you know are safe.
Natural and organic candles are a safe bet with this one, specifically with essential oils and other natural forms of fragrance used in them rather than chemicals.
All-natural waxes and wax blends are always the safest if you’re going for non-toxic candles. Ingredients like paraffin wax and compounds that include it have been linked to all kinds of health risks — really, it’s best to avoid any kind of synthetic wax or chemical. Soy wax, beeswax and coconut wax are fantastic natural options for candle waxes. Most organic and natural candles will be made with one or more of these waxes already. They tend to be of higher quality and are much safer.
There are even blends of natural waxes like BW-917 you can keep an eye out for. There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to natural waxes. The more you look, the more you’ll find, and you can of course make your own candles so that you know exactly what goes into it.
If lead is bad when it’s on the walls, of course it’s bad to burn into the air and breathe into your body. This is why candles with metal wicks are a no go when it comes to non-toxic home accessories and aromatherapy. Often, candles with metal core wicks will contain lead, even though they technically aren’t supposed to. It’s always best to go for a natural material when choosing your candle wicks. Cotton, wood and other materials that are known to burn easily and come from the earth are your best bet.
If you already know what kinds of fragrances to avoid — artificial fragrances and chemicals — it could be helpful to know what aromatherapy ingredients are positive to keep an eye out for. While looking simply for natural and organic fragrances is a great base, essential oils and natural plant extracts are great natural sources of concentrated fragrance. Many candles will also contain dried plants like flowers and herbs in the candle themselves, and this is a great way to tell that you’re getting the whole, natural ingredient.
Breathe In The Goodness
Regardless of the wax, scent or wick you go for, finding non-toxic candles to light in your home is much better for your health and the environment around you. Find your favorite candle business or creator and find a scent you love to spark your creativity.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability.