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10 best non-toxic candles that are sustainable and smell great

Jess Denham
·6-min read
Quality has not been sacrificed for eco-credentials – all these products burn long and cleanly (The Independent/iStock)
Quality has not been sacrificed for eco-credentials – all these products burn long and cleanly (The Independent/iStock)

Lighting a scented candle at the end of a long day is our favourite way to de-stress.

Unfortunately, many candles are made from paraffin wax, a byproduct of the oil industry that pollutes the air when burning and can irritate lungs. Most are also scented with synthetic fragrances that can cause headaches and exacerbate allergy symptoms.

It’s important to note that these candles have been scientifically proven to be safe in small doses – otherwise they wouldn’t be for sale. But for extra reassurance, look to non-toxic alternatives.

Candles made from natural waxes such as soy and beeswax give the cleanest, longest burn, but expect the “throw” (how well the scent circulates) to be more subtle.

Pure essential oils give the most natural scent but they are costly to extract, usually making the candle more expensive.

Candles with a fragrance blend that’s free from phthalates and parabens – the biggest chemical nasties to avoid – offer a good middle ground.

Every candle on our list is non-toxic and many have earned extra eco-points for sustainable packaging.

Quality has not been compromised for ethics – these candles all burn cleanly, smell fabulous and throw their scent surprisingly far.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Irusu. dusk candle

We were so taken aback by the powerful natural scent of this lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary candle that it took us a while to light it because we couldn’t stop sniffing it! The pure essential oils are ethically sourced, and we love that each soy wax candle is hand-blended, poured and numbered in north London.

The amber glass jar glows softly as the candle burns for up to 45 hours, throwing its scent brilliantly. Irusu. means “to pretend not to be home when somebody knocks”, which made us chuckle in guilty recognition.

Buy now £25.00, Irusu.

Lola's Apothecary breath of clarity naturally fragrant candle

This all-natural candle is made from a blend of plant waxes to get the best possible throw. Made in Devon, its 100 per cent essential oil fragrance features eucalyptus, rosemary and marjoram, with a sprinkling of peppermint and lemon – perfect for helping to clear blocked sinuses.

It promises 45 hours of burn time and features an intricate pattern on its smoky glass casing, designed by botanical illustrator Deborah Ballinger.

Buy now £45.00, Lola's Apothecary

Bolt & Star neroli, clementine and lemon soy wax candle with lid

For a candle that’s as chemical-free as can be, try Bolt & Star’s contemporary range. They’re handmade in small batches in southwest London, using only soy wax and pure essential oils. Our pick is the summer scented neroli, clementine and lemon candle, which smells like an orange blossom tree.

It comes in a black glass jar with a gold, silver or rose gold lid and burns for about 20 hours. If you’re wondering about the name, it’s inspired by “the original Starman”, David Bowie.

Buy now £25.00, Bolt & Star

AromaWorks basil and lime soy wax candle

For a non-toxic take on Jo Malone’s signature lime, basil and mandrain scent, try this herby, citrussy candle made from natural soy wax and pure essential oils. The oils used – including frankincense and basil – have been proven to help calm busy minds and boost feelings of contentment.

It’ll burn for around 40 hours and makes the perfect morning pick-me-up. Best of all, at under £14, it’s very reasonably priced for an ethical aromatherapy product.

Buy now £10.49, Holland & Barrett

eym. soul candle

Minimalists will be in raptures at the aesthetics of this candle from hip British brand, eym., which was born when co-founder Poppy was pregnant and looking for natural alternatives. Made from soy wax and scented only with pure essential oils, it’s a real treat for the senses.

We tried “soul” – dubbed “the joyful one” – and loved its unusual yet harmonious mix of ylang ylang, orange blossom and neroli. You’ll find the throw is best in small spaces as it doesn’t contain any chemical scent boosters. It burns for a decent 50 hours and arrives in sustainably-sourced packaging.

Buy now £39.00, Content Beauty & Wellbeing

Pure Thoughts peace meditation candle

This Derbyshire-based natural brand is all about holistic self-care. There are four soothing scents of soy wax candle to choose from, but our favourite is the lavender “peace”.

It comes in an amber glass jar that glows softly when lit, adding to the zen experience. Expect it to burn for up to 20 hours or splash a bit more cash for the bigger size that burns for 40 – it’s worth it for the high concentration of a pure essential oil that helps calm anxiety.

Buy now £16.00, Pure Thoughts

Cowshed active room candle

Fans of Soho House will recognise Cowshed’s soy wax candles from their oh-so-luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms. There’s a range of all-natural scents to choose from but our pick is “active”, which blends ginger, rosemary and lemongrass for a zingy wake-up.

It’ll burn for up to 60 hours and is totally free from any parabens, silicones or pesticides. There’s matching shower gel, body oil and body lotion too – sorry, bank account!

Buy now £38.00, Liberty

Iggy Box artisan candle subscription

Candle aficionados keen to try a sample range of brands should sign up for Iggy Box’s monthly candle deliveries. Makers change every month but they all have one thing in common – a passion for non-toxic candles. Seven Seventeen, Hobo and Huskke & Co have all featured recently.

Boxes include the candle, a note about the brand and some mini matches. Choose from two subscriptions – the little one for a 30-hour burn time or the bigger one for a 45-hour burn time.

Buy now £14.95, Iggy Box

Neom real luxury 3-wick scented candle

Neom is a leading luxury wellbeing brand with good reason – its candles are made from a blend of organic vegetable waxes and highly-concentrated pure essential oils. This three-wick gem is one of our all-time favourites thanks to its divine scent – a heavenly concoction of 24 oils specially chosen for their destressing qualities, including lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood.

The calming fragrance intensifies further once lit, scenting even big rooms. It’s pricey but you can expect around 50 hours of burn time and the three wicks make it a fabulous centrepiece.

Buy now £46.00, Space NK

Evermore London moon candle

Evermore’s luxury candles are made from a vegan soy and rapeseed blend for a long-lasting burn of up to 60 hours. The fragrance isn’t entirely natural, but it’s free from phthalates and incorporates essential oils too.

Inspiration has been taken from the natural world – this woody, floral scent of roses, saffron and vetivert evokes moonlit nights in a mystical forest. It’s addictive, and the black wax and black and gold jar gives it a luxe gothic vibe we’re very into.

Buy now £48.00, Evermore London

The verdict: Non-toxic candles

We’d not heard of London brand Irusu. before trying the Dusk candle but were blown away by the strength of its aromatherapeutic scent and throw. Candle lovers with smaller budgets should look to AromaWorks for an all-natural range of great value candles or sign up to Iggy Box’s artisan candle subscription service.