What You Need To Know About Clean Burning Candles And Our Top Picks!

  • By: Candle Crowd
  • Time to read: 14 min.
Photographer: Samantha Gades | Source: Unsplash

Clean burning candles? What are clean burning candles? Am I burning toxic candles, you may ask. How can you make a simple object like a candle clean and environment-friendly? Well, here’s what you need to know about clean burning candles.

A clean burning candle has three qualities:

It is made with natural ingredients; candle wax burns without releasing toxic smoke and doesn’t produce black soot.

Many low-quality, paraffin wax candles produce smoke which pollutes the environment. Burning these candles also leaves dull traces of black soot on the sides of the container or walls around it. And you do not want that, right!

To keep your house smoke-and-mark-free, you must choose an all-natural, clean burning candle, like our top-picks of clean candles. Read till the end to find your favorite clean, burning, scented candle.

Are some candles really toxic?

The question surfaced in 2001 when the U.S EPA identified burning paraffin candles with the lead wick as a potential source of indoor air pollution. Paraffin wax is known to release a range of problematic aromatic compounds such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. And synthetic fragrance oils are void of aromatherapy benefits. Talking about if candles are bad for you, Healthline suggests that paraffin candles do not emit enough pollutants in the air to be considered toxic. Nonetheless, candle-makers have been working on natural waxes that are more environment-friendly and burn clean.

Why are clean burning candles important?

We all love candles that smell good. However, we might be risking our health and the people we care about by burning candles that pollute our surrounding environment. Everything from our kitchen to backyard has been swapped with eco-friendly, organic alternatives; upgrading your candles to clean burning candles is a piece of cake. With its natural plant-based wax, cotton wick, and 100% pure essential oils, a clean burning candle is worth the hype.

A clean burning candle is more than a smoke-free candle. It offers many medicinal, meditational, and aromatherapy benefits.

  1. A clean burning candle with a soothing aroma like lavender creates a peaceful ambiance for you to unwind after a tiring day.
  2. Certain clean burning, aromatic candles help combat stress, anxiety, fear, depression, and mood tantrums.
  3. Candle soot and flickering flame of paraffin candles might distract you during meditation. Alternatively, you can use a clean burning candle like a beeswax candle to build concentration (people use a stable flame as their focus point when meditating).
  4. While some candles are crafted solely for aromatherapy purposes, others are created to enjoy seasons and festivities. For example, pumpkin spice candles might bring back memories of fall. And Ocean breeze scented candles even produce the aroma of salty breeze flowing across turquoise blue waters with white sandy beaches. Wanna make it more cool? Opt for a clean burning soy-based candle.
  5. Clean burning candles also add a unique signature touch to the beauty of your eco-friendly house.

After reading this blog to the end, you will have a new perspective when it comes to buying or making clean candles.

Guidelines for selecting a clean candle

Most of us pick our candles based on how gorgeous they look and smell. But, all candles are different when it comes to wax, fragrance, and even toxins released upon burning the candle. So how do you know which candles are clean and safe to burn at home and which are not? Remember the following guidelines before buying any non toxic candle:

  1. Seek out candles that affect the indoor air quality the least. Plant-based soy wax and animal-based beeswax candles are excellent choices to this end.
  2. Whatever wax you use, make sure it is 100% pure and not blended with paraffin wax. Paraffin wax, as we know it, is a fossil fuel by-product. It is common in candle-making, particularly to blend with soft waxes such as beeswax. But it is not sustainable to use. So, be on the lookout for this blend.
  3. Lead wicks were banned in 2003, and their use has become obsolete in candle-making. Avoid them, too, if you’re making candles at home.
Photographer: Logan Nolin | Source: Unsplash

What ingredients to look for in clean burning candles?

If you're a curious candle-geek like me, you know what goes into the candle matters than people think. Therefore, check its label or scour the website to learn if your candle is made with paraffin wax or natural wax? Which wick does it contain? What kind of fragrance oil does it have? What about complex fragrances that cannot be distilled? (think of sea salt) And why is your scented candle making you nauseous while others just smell nice?

According to top-tier organizations like American Chemical Society, Green America, and Mother Earth Living, a clean burning candle is:

  1. Made with a 100% vegetable or plant wax base;
  2. Scented with 100% pure essential oils;
  3. And contains cotton wicks.

We have already extolled the best ingredients for making candles in our previous blog posts. But, just in case it didn’t register, let me explain a little more about each of these with respect to clean burning candles. A quick look at the ingredients of the candle might give you the reason for the much-needed swap.

Clean burning wax

Wax is the primary ingredient in any candle. And when it comes to clean burning candles, always look for animal-based and plant-based or vegetable wax. Beeswax, soy wax, coconut wax, candelilla wax, bayberry wax, rapeseed wax, etc., are some clean burning alternatives to paraffin.

Though there is no sound evidence on the health effect of paraffin wax candles, nor the study was peer-reviewed, the smoke does contain volatile organic compounds. Most of these compounds are carcinogenic. Unlike paraffin wax, natural waxes are biodegradable and burn clean without producing petro carbon soot. Not only do these candles, like beeswax candles, last longer than paraffin wax candles, but they also have a light natural aroma of their own! This enhances the fragrance of essential oils in scented candles.

Make sure the wax is 100% pure and sustainably sourced. Usually, soft waxes, like beeswax, are blended with paraffin to make free-standing pillar candles. Moreover, a candle can contain a smidge of soy wax and still be labeled as plant-based.

Unless the candle brands state “100% plant-based” or “paraffin-free,” read the ingredients on the label or inquire through the website to make sure you’re not inadvertently getting a soy wax blend.

However, it would be best if you avoided natural palm wax. It promotes deforestation of rainforests for palm tree plantations. Not a sustainable choice for making candles!

Photographer: Pratiksha Mohanty | Source: Unsplash

Clean burning wick

The candle wick is another element that you need to consider carefully. Wick plays a significant role in all aspects of burning a candle; a balanced flame, burn time, scent throw, and even toxicity. Lead-cored candles were ubiquitous until 2003.

After the EPA banned the manufacture and use of metal wicks, the popularity of cotton wicks and wood wicks reached sky heights. However, it is still possible for metal wicks to come across, usually woven into another type of wick. So, be on the lookout for the “lead-free” or “100 % natural cotton wicks” code on the label. These wicks do not produce candle soot or leave a residue behind.

Another factor that is worth considering for a candle to burn clean is the wick size. A large-sized wick burns really hot and produces a substantial amount of smoke. A small-sized wick, on the other hand, neither burns evenly nor dissipates the fragrance adequately.

Clean burning fragrance

We are down to the last thing in a candle that usually we notice first; its fragrance. Not every scented candle contains pure fragrance. The word “fragrance” refers to various chemicals blended to create unique yet complex aromas. Most of these compounds are obtained from petrochemical by-products, the only thing we’ve wanted to avoid so far!

Usually soy wax candle, according to what I have learned, is infused with synthetic natural or artificial fragrances for a strong scent. While these fragrances last longer, they lack any medicinal or aromatherapy benefits that pure essential oils offer.

As they are vexed to do so by U.S. regulations, some candle-making companies use the word "fragrance" or vague descriptions when it comes to listing their complex synthetic scents or their sources. This lack of transparency by most candle brands might risk your physical health or mental well-being.

Photographer: Eugenia Ai | Source: Unsplash

It is important to buy candles from companies that value transparencies. Or use 100% natural essential oils if you’re making your own candles. Would you please make sure they are phthalate-free and do not produce smoke in candles?

Don’t get tripped up if brands use terms like; fine fragrance, natural fragrance, high-quality fragrance, or phthalate-free fragrance. What they mean to say is their candles are scented with synthetic fragrances.

I hope these guidelines will help you shop for a clean candle in the future. Let’s now move to our top picks of clean burning candles.

Our top picks of clean burning candles

You'll want to seek out clean burning candles, and there are a plethora of candles to choose from. Here, we have listed our top picks of clean burning candles for you! Whichever candle you, they are all made with quality ingredients to burn clean and safe.

1- Basil, Neroli & White Musk by CoCo Benjamin

Top on our list is an 8 oz clean burning soy wax candle from CoCo Benjamin. With top notes of green basil that mellow into oh-so-floral heart notes of neroli and ends with earthy tones of white musk, this premium scented candle is the star of the show. A perfect calming scent that isn’t overpowering at all. The clean-smelling candle is easy and basic to have around your kitchen or any space and time of the day.

The candle is made with 100% natural soy wax from American-grown soybeans coupled with a smokeless, lead-free cotton wick for an eco-friendly clean burn. The wax burns all the way down to the bottom without leaving soot marks on the sides of its elegant amber glass container. Each soy candle is hand-poured by an in-house team of skilled artisans. Other qualities which make this soot free candle all the more environment-friendly are; phthalate-free, cruelty-free, and vegan-friendly. Plus, the container is reusable.

What makes customers a fan of CoCo Benjamin? The company sends detailed instructions via thank you card and email on burning the candle to get the most out of it.

2- Fresh Linen by LuLu Candles

Coming in a second close, this 6 oz black and white chic candle smells like a fresh load of crisp laundry.

Though there is no standard recipe for fresh linen scent, the brand is highly selective about its fragrances. And that’s how the people like to define it; it has an “uplifting smell” that is so “fresh and clean,” “fills your home with the crisp smell of white sheets” even when it’s not laundry day. Some say “it mimics the smell of freshly washed laundry right out of the dryer.” While most people would say it “evokes the memories of old days when the scent of fabric softeners, crisp sheets, and clean laundry drying in the sun lingers in your house.”

LuLu Candle’s Fresh linen candle burns beautifully clean and slow with a soft, soothing fragrance. It fills the entire room without giving you a headache. LuLu Candles are loved for their sophistication and ambiance. It might be the reason they top Amazon's best-sellers chart. The container also has a sleek modern design. Though the candle is a bit pricy for its size, it smells clean and light.

Each candle is hand-poured with vegan soy wax that is paraben-and-cruelty-free with a 100% cotton wick that burns slowly so you can enjoy your candle for the longest hours (up to 50 hours). All in all, the candle makes a perfect gift for yourself and anyone who wants to enjoy the smell of laundry without the labor of doing actual laundry.

3- Premium Rose and Sandalwood Candle by Benevolence

At 8 oz, the uplifting aroma of this Benevolence LA candle is listed as one of the best candles on Forbes list. We, too, can't help but love the idea of a candle that conjures up the smell of fresh-cut rose, peony blossom, and geranium paired with woody sandalwood and hints of amber and musk; a blend that smells heavenly! This luxuriously scented blend will both help you feel relaxed and energized. Used this candle to relieve anxiety, insomnia, and aromatherapy.

This clean burning candle uses soy wax and a generous amount of the finest essential oil blends for a toxin-free, clean, aromatic burn.

And we can’t overlook the brand's philanthropic contributions to shine light into darkness. For every candle bought, they make a donation to a charity, Zoe International, that helps fight human sex trafficking and slavery.

The candle burns for at least 45 hours. The elegant matte black and gold stamped boxes adds to the aesthetic appeals of candles and space. The candle can be used for removing odors, relaxation, meditation, as a therapeutic smell, and a decor gift that would go with any space.

Get this candle as a gift or for yourself, and feel good about what you’re doing for humanity either way.

4- Urban Concepts by Deco Candles

Next up is 9 oz Urban Concepts by Deco Candles, the signature scent of Grand Bohemian Hotel, Asheville, NC. The elegant look of the container candle is inspired by the edgy look of the industrial-looking decor in today’s society. The candle strikes a perfect balance of sweet, spice, and cozy aroma of a delicious melange of spices and fresh evergreen. The fragrance dissipates quickly into the air when lit, so there’s no need to burn it for longer than necessary, even for the larger spaces.

The candles are hand-poured in the USA and come in a lovely tinted glass. The burn time is up to 90 hours, according to one Amazon reviewer. The candle makes a great gift, especially because of its chic packaging. And at this very reasonable price point, you can likely afford to splurge on more than one.

5- Lavender and Eucalyptus Scented Candle by Craft and Kin

Loaded with the finest essential oils, this candle offers lavender as its top and eucalyptus as its base notes. The fresh, floral aroma of lavender blends perfectly in the calming notes of eucalyptus. This duo makes hands down the best clean burning candle to relieve mental exhaustion, improve sleep, eliminate odors. Burn this candle and infuse your body and mind with calm and restfulness.

Craft and Kin candles are made with 100% natural and premium-quality soy wax. Soy candle is inherently non toxic and clean burning with a cotton wick. Need more reasons to love it? Each candle is proudly designed and hand-crafted in California for the love of home. The candle comes in frosted white glass and a nice box ideal for gifting to your loved ones.

6- Cancelled Plans Candle

The Cancelled Plans Scented Candle by Cancelled Plans speaks for us on many occasions. This 10 oz candle features a clean burning blend of coconut and apricot wax with cotton wick. The refreshing notes of aloe, agave, chrysanthemum, green floral, and patchouli will make this candle your excuse to cancel your plans and stay at home with your furry friend for as long as 55 hours! (Is that a fact? No, it’s just the burn time of candle) Like other clean burning candles on our list, all Cancelled Plans Candles are also hand-poured in Seattle, USA.

7- No. 1 Rich AF by Dirty Bartender

This candle features an insanely sweet combination of floral top notes of dark currants mingled with an incomparable balance of spice wine and grounding patchouli. An aroma that sounds heavenly! This luxuriously scented candle puts you in a great mood so you can feel Rich AF!

This generous 8 oz clean burning soy candle is hand-mixed and poured. The cotton wick ensures the candle burns clean and smokeless for up to 40 hours. The elegant candle comes in a statement-making sleek black vessel featuring the company’s chrome logo. You may be tempted to preserve this beautiful candle jar to complement any home decor for as long as you can.

8- Unscented Timberline Pillar Candle by Root Candles

We all love aromatic candles for their warm glow, delicious fragrance, and aromatherapy benefits. It might sound a bit oxymoron, but unscented candles can also enhance the warmth and ambiance of your space. And we have one of the best unscented and clean burning candles for you. Root unscented Timberline pillar candle is adorned with “an artistic canopy of tree-like branches while the candle trunk echoes the natural simplicity of smooth weathered bark,” according to the website.

Each of the Root’s candles is enriched with beeswax, has a natural fiber wick, and is infused with essential oils. But the candle also gives off a subtle honey aroma as it burns. The Root candles are available in 14 everyday designer colors and four seasonal colors, which set these candles apart.

With such a vibrant solid color range and an impressive burn time of 17 hours per inch, these fragrance-free, dripless pillar candles can be a worthy addition to your space.

Common questions about buying safe and clean burning candles

Why do some candles produce smoke and soot?

Some candles are made entirely with paraffin wax or blend with natural wax. Whatever the case, paraffin wax is a petrochemical by-product. It burns to produce smoke. But if your soy candle, naturally smoke-free, is producing smoke, it is for many reasons. It might contain thick, large wick, unstable essential oils or synthetic additives like UV inhibitors to make it look more attractive. These factors lead to soot production.

What causes a candle to burn unevenly?

The candle wick plays a vital role in all three; upright burning of a candle, dissipation of scent, and melt pool of the wax. If your candle wick is too large, it will result in an uneven, crooked flame. Long wicks also cause dripping and flaring of candles. Therefore, wick trimming is necessary. Trim the wick to 1/4-inch each time before burning to avoid this.

I accidentally trimmed a lot of my candle wick, and now the candle is not lightening up – what should I do?

Dig out or melt some of the wax around the wick so you can light it. If the liquid is too much for the container candle, then pour it off. Once you get enough candle wick, it will burn normally.

What is the correct way to extinguish a candle?

Allow your candle to burn for several hours to the edges, so there is no tunneling before extinguishing it. Use a candle snuffer to put off the fire. If it is a scented container candle, cover it with a lid properly so that the fragrance doesn’t fade away. Else, cover it with a dry washcloth.

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