The Lunar New Year Ushers in the Lucky Year of the Dragon—And It’s Giving Hot, Fire-Breathing Energy

In short: It’s gonna be lit.

Scent is a powerful thing. It can evoke moods, trigger memories, and shape our personal identity—some “functional fragrances” can go even further to calm or enhance our emotions entirely. Candles are perhaps the coziest way to take advantage of scent—to brighten your space, help you relax, or even set the mood for the seasons. But beyond their enchanting glow and delightful fragrances, the ingredients in your candles matter. Enter non-toxic candles, which go beyond ambiance to protect the air you breathe and the space you live in.

In a market flooded with options, discerning the health implications of your candle choices is essential. The ingredients in candles can impact indoor air quality, and being conscious of what goes into these wax wonders is a wellness choice worth making. We spoke with experts in the non-toxic, clean candle space to find out what the phrase “non-toxic candles” even means and why it matters, as well as what you should look for when you’re choosing your next candle. We’ve also rounded up 11 of our favorite non-toxic candles (at every price point) so you can shift to a clean burn more easily.

The best non-toxic candle brands, at a glance:

What does it mean for a candle to be non-toxic?

Ingredient quality makes a huge difference in the candles you’re burning—after all, you’re breathing in all the substances in your candle, which can impact your body now and long-term. Suzy Allen, founder and creative director of West Clay in Sarasota, Floria, explains that not all candles are poured equally: “Some candle brands sneak in paraffin wax, releasing not-so-great stuff like acetone and benzene into the air—yikes!” Paraffin wax has been linked to carcinogens and increased cancer risk, headaches, kidney and endocrine damage, breathing problems, and more, so candles made from soy, coconut, or vegetable wax are a better option.

But do non-toxic candles go beyond just the wax? Melody Lim, founder of Mala, encourages readers to also look at the wick material and fragrance type. “When you light a candle with harmful ingredients, it can lead to breathing problems, skin irritation, and staining on the walls and furniture in your home,” she explains. Typically, Lim says, the most common harmful ingredients in candles are petrochemicals, lead-filled wicks, and synthetic fragrances.

According to the International Fragrance Association, the word “fragrance” on a label can include 3,619 ingredients, some of which impact your health. At a minimum, you should look for fragrances free of phthalates and parabens, but the best choice is to shop from a candlemaker that prioritizes ingredient clarity and clean fragrance blends. “Phthalates have been linked to reproductive issues plus certain cancers, disrupting the body’s endocrine system,” says Allen. “That’s why our fragrance oils are 100 percent phthalate-free, and Prop 65 compliant. They don’t contain carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, organ toxins or acute toxins.”

What to look for

Green Flags

  • 100 percent soy or coconut wax, or a specific blend of the two
  • Essential oil-based or synthetic fragrance
  • Phthalate- and paraben-free fragrance
  • Cotton, hemp, or wood wicks

Red Flags

  • Paraffin wax (This is the biggest red flag!)
  • Metalcore, lead, and petroleum-primed wicks
  • Artificial dyes or colorants
  • The phrase “soy wax blend” or “coconut wax blend”—if the candle doesn’t explain all components of the wax, run!

Shop the best non-toxic candles

If you’re looking through your current stash of candles and panicking, take a deep breath—the way you make the change to non-toxic candles is up to you, but knowledge is power, and you’re already on the path to a healthier candle experience. Do what works best for you, and keep this list handy. Without further ado, here are 11 of the best non-toxic candles that’ll burn cleaner and without all the health risks…but still with the coziness and yummy scents we all crave. Though we’ve selected 11 individual candles, each of the brands featured only craft non-toxic candles, so it’s worth browsing through their collections to see what else sparks your curiosity.

Snif Birds and the Breeze

Key Ingredients: soy and vegetable wax, non-toxic fragrance

Snif’s clean, unisex perfumes are a sort of phenomenon amongst fragrance connoisseurs, especially on TikTok. But the brand also makes gorgeous non-toxic candles. It has a handful of core collection scents to choose from and also do limited-edition, collaboration candles. All of Snif’s products are formulated with clean industry standards—this means they’re non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free. It also uses 100 percent pure cotton fiber wicks for a clean, safe burn. 

Our pick: Birds and the Breeze is a favorite amongst Snif fans, with a light and airy scent perfect for lighting in the morning. Best of all, Snif has a “try before you buy” program—it will send you the product before you pay for it so you can see if you like it. 

Key notes: Mimosa petals, galbanum (think earthy and green), jasmine, cyclamen orchid (like lily, but softer), musk, cedarwood

Size: 8.5 oz.

Burn time: Over 50 hours

Mala Silk

Key ingredients: custom-blend coconut-soy wax, phthalate- and paraben-free fragrance and essential oils

Mala is a Canada-based, women-owned company started by a young entrepreneur with a passion for candles, self-care, and sustainability. It’s a great shop to browse for yourself or for gifting—its clean, non-toxic candles come in a variety of scents. Even better,t he brand partners with Veritree, so that with every candle purchase, a tree is planted across the globe. 

Our pick: A good place to start is with Silk, with notes of jasmine, coconut, and tonka bean—a beautiful and light scent. As with all Mala candles, a tree will be planted with your purchase. You can also expect it to come delivered with eco-friendly packaging, like biodegradable packing peanuts and a recyclable box. 

Key notes: jasmine, coconut, tonka bean

Size: 4 oz., 8 oz., or 16 oz.

Burn time: Up to 25 (4-ounce candle), 45 (8-ounce candle), or 85 hours (16-ounce candle)

Carrière Frères Orange Blossom

Key ingredients: 100% vegetable wax

For a slightly more elevated candle experience, Carrière Frères is a lovely non-toxic option. In general, the brand’s candles are crafted in Normandy and formulated with 100 percent vegetable wax from European organic rapeseed. The candles come in a number of botanical and natural scents, from Spearmint to Tomato and (our favorite) Orange Blossom.

Our pick: This one is a gorgeous, light floral and citrusy scent that smells like summer honeysuckle in bloom. Candles from Carrière Frères make beautiful gifts as well, particularly because of the beautiful packaging that’s sustainable too, with no plastic or non-essential materials used, and instead, boxes and labels made from recycled and recyclable paper and printing using vegetable-based inks. 

Key notes: orange blossom flower (sweet and slightly powdery, floral, with a waxy, somewhat sweet note)

Size: 6.5 oz.

Burn time: Up to 45 hours

Candelles Freshly Brewed

Key ingredients: 100% natural soy wax, alcohol-and phthalate-free fragrances, non-treated, lead-free cotton wicks 

Candelles is a small, woman-owned candle shop based in Pennsylvania. All of its candles are made with 100% natural soy wax produced by U.S. farmers, and use all-natural fragrance oils plus non-treated lead-free cotton wicks. There are no dyes, phthalates, or alcohol—just clean, good smells in the cutest colorful votives. 

Our pick: Freshly Brewed is one of the best-selling candles and a customer favorite for good reason. It smells like your favorite coffee shop, and it’s a perfect candle to burn on a gloomy day or a cozy morning for a pick-me-up. 

Key notes: black coffee bean, cream, vanilla bean

Size: 9 oz. or 16 oz.

Burn time: 40 (9-ounce candle) or 120 hours (16-ounce candle)

Nette Pearl Dust

Key ingredients: natural coconut and soy wax, paraben-, sulfate-, and dye-free fragrances

For beautiful, elegant candles with unique scent profiles and clean ingredients, look no further than Nette. Based in New York City and founded by Carol Han Pyle, Nette is a true standout in the non-toxic candle space, with coconut and soy wax, handmade artisan glass vessels, and beautiful hand-thrown and glazed ceramics that you can repurpose as mugs or glasses after burning your candles (the vessels are even food-safe and dishwasher-safe). 

Our pick: Pearl Dust is a gorgeous summer scent with notes of white musk, amber, and orris. Nette also has a popular candle made in collaboration with Tata Harper, inspired by her garden and the blooms she sources for her skincare brand. 

Key notes: saffron, geranium, tonka, white musk, amber, white patchouli 

Size: 12 oz.

Burn time: 65 hours

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