2024 Buying Guide: Safe, Non-Toxic and Organic Candles

October 1, 2020 (updated April 24, 2024) — Written by

Straight from the desk of The New Knew founder Lisa Fennessy, here’s a curated list of the best 10+ non-toxic, safe and clean burning, organic candles to buy in 2024. Plus, tips on what to look for in a non-toxic candle, and the ingredients to avoid when shopping for a new candle.

A woman holding a stone wear candle

By: Lisa Fennessy


On writing days, I wake up, make my blended coffee, sit at my desk, light a candle and let the writing begin. Candles add so much ambiance and they can bring a room to life.

There are a plethora of candles to choose from on the market but (with most things) some are better than others. Here’s what to consider, how to decode labels and what to know to choose a clean one.

RELATED: Read our 9 ways to make your home smell good for the holidays.

How to read candle labels

1. Fragrance/Scent

One of the easiest ways to vet candles is to avoid ones made with “fragrance”. Here’s why.

In most cases, when you look at a product ingredient label, you will see each ingredient listed individually. But under U.S. regulations, when it comes to “complex mixtures of many different natural and synthetic chemical ingredients”, AKA “fragrance”, these complex mixtures can simply be listed as “fragrance”. (1)

This is because under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, the law is not allowed to be used to force a company to tell “trade secrets.”

And that’s fine and all except these complex mixtures can contain thousands of components including allergens, VOCs, and phthalates. And these fragranced products can trigger adverse health effects in the general population. (2)

Interpreting fine fragrance or high-quality fragrance or phalate-free fragrance or parfume

I recommend looking for candles that are scented with essential oils only. This means that a product contains oils extracted from whole plants or plant parts. Transparent manufacturers and distributors will always have information about how the oil was made (steam distilled, CO2 extracted, absolute, etc.) and the country the plant material came from that was used to make the oil.

But don’t get tripped up. You will also see terms like; fine fragrance or high-quality fragrance or phalate-free fragrance or parfume.

Jessica Waters, founder and candlemaker of Terralite explains, “This means the product has been scented with synthetic fragrances or a blend of synthetic fragrances and essential oils. Many synthetic fragrances are 95% derived from petroleum. No matter how you brand it, unless it is described as being 100% natural, you can assume the candle contains ingredients that are not natural.”

The other problem with terms like “fine fragrance” is the lack of disclosure and transparency. We want to know what’s in our products and with terms like “natural fragrance”, we are still left in the dark.

RELATED: 12 Hidden Ingredients in Skincare + Makeup and Our Favorite Clean Perfumes.

Interpreting natural fragrance

Jessica continues, “Natural fragrance means that the product was scented with fragrances that were derived from natural plant sources. This is different than essential oils. Natural fragrance manufacturers typically do not disclose how their natural fragrances are made or what plant sources were used to make the fragrance so very little information is known about them other than they are “natural”. Since there is no official body regulating fragrances or natural fragrances, including no labeling requirements as to what is in fragrances, there is a risk that it could include synthetic ingredients unless otherwise stated.”

Takeaway: Choose brands that use transparent language around what is in their candles. I recommend looking for candles scented with “100% essential oils” or “essential oils only” as an easy way to vet candles.

2. Wax

Paraffin and petroleum derived candles release unwanted chemicals into the air. “For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma.”

Fortunately there are other options like soy wax, vegetable wax, coconut wax and beeswax. But it doesn’t stop there. Sometimes brands will label their candle “made with soy wax” or “coconut wax candle” but these can also include paraffin too. Wax blends are very common in candle making and sometimes not all materials included in these blends are disclosed.

Jessica Waters continues, “Unless a product or company states that their wax is “paraffin-free”, then most likely a petroleum additive was added to the wax to make the wax harder and increase the melting temperature (the temperature at which the solid wax becomes liquid).”

Takeaway: Look for candles labeled “100% coconut wax” or “100% beeswax” for example. You can also follow up with the company to clarify if you do not see this language on the label.

3. Wicks

Choosing a clean candle also requires wick label decoding. Here are some common terms that can trip people up.

Terms like “Lead-Free Wick”

This means that the wick does not contain lead. However, it’s kind of a greenwashing tactic at this point because the Consumer Product Safety Commission placed a national ban against manufacturing, importing, or selling candles with lead wicks as of October 2003.

Terms like “Natural Cotton Wick”

“Natural cotton wick” means that the wick is made from cotton but unless it says “unbleached cotton” the wick has gone through a chemical bleaching process.

Takeaway: Look for cotton wicks that are unbleached. This usually takes a follow-up with the brand to clarify.

RELATED: 5 tips on how to live a cozier life.

Questions to ask brands when shopping for clean candles

Sometimes you can’t find all of the information on the candle label or the website.

Jessica Waters adds, “The confusing thing is, not every company has the same ethics about labeling, so although a candle may say “natural”, there’s a chance that it might not actually be 100% natural.”

Here are some questions for brands that will help guide you in the right direction towards finding safe candles:

  1. Does your wax contain paraffin?
  2. Is your cotton wick unbleached?
  3. Do you use fragrance or essential oils?

RELATED: Check out our Organic hair dye review and our non-toxic nail polish buying guide

Cruelty free + vegan candles

Two more terms you may see on candle labels that are worth addressing. If you see a candle labeled “cruelty free”, it means that candle has not been tested on animals. It does not refer to whether that candle is natural or not.

Similarly, if you see the term vegan on a candle, it means that a product does not contain any animal products or byproducts. It does not refer to whether or not that candle is natural or not.

RELATED: The Ultimate Clean VEGAN Beauty Master List

Nontoxic candle buying guide

Here are some luxe nontoxic candles broken down by category. This is a great place to start if you are on the hunt for a truly natural safe candle.

soy blend candle

coconut wax candles header

More non-toxic candles recommended by readers!

We got SEVERAL reader recommendations for non-toxic candles. I went through them all. Some brands only offered seasonal candles and were no longer available while other brands didn’t make the TNK clean cut….these ones did!

What would you add to this list?

xo, lisa in cursive

TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.

Common questions about buying safe and non-toxic candles?

What makes a candle non-toxic? 

Candles that are scented with essential oils, made with 100% natural wax, and have unbleached cotton wicks are some things that can identify non-toxic candles. More here.

Are all candles vegan?

Not all candles are vegan. A vegan candle is made without the use of animal ingredients or byproducts like beeswax, stearic acid, goat’s milk, or animal fat. 

Are all candles cruelty-free?

It’s possible that some candles may be tested on animals. Look for “cruelty-free” labeling or research candle companies before buying.


1. Fragrances in Cosmetics, U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

2. Steinemann, Anne. Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions, Air Quality Atmosphere & Health. Published online 2016 Oct 20.

By Lisa Fennessy

Lisa is the founder of The New Knew. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!


  1. Reply


    Fontana candle company and neom organics!

    1. Reply


      Thank you! I added Fontana and Neom looks amazing too..I want to ask if they use essential oils only ; ) Thanks for these!

  2. Reply


    I love Bee Lucia wellness candles. Not only are they made of beeswax and coconut oil, but they are scented with essential oils and contain crystals that have healing effects. And they smell great too!

    1. Reply


      OOO! Love the idea of adding crystals in! That’s cool.

  3. Reply


    This information was well written and informative I am a lover of candles but was just so clueless of all these different wax thank you so much

    1. Reply


      Absolutely! So glad this was helpful! xo, Lisa

  4. Reply


    Hi Lisa! Wondering if you came across any votive or tea light options in your search? Looking for candles for an event. Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Reply


      Yes! Check these out. They are the best of the best ; ) https://terralite.com/product-category/fair-trade-tealights/

  5. Reply


    I am looking for a non scented candle-any suggestions? Having trouble finding this.

    1. Reply


      Hi Geri! A lot of beeswax candles are non-scented..I would recommend starting there! Let us know if you still have trouble! xo, Lisa

  6. Reply


    Hey! Thanks so much for this list! Loved reading through the options! Have you heard of Pure Light candles? I’ve only tried the Sunshine scent but it was so enjoyable!

    1. Reply


      Hi Rae! I haven’t but they sound lovely! xo, Lisa

  7. Reply


    I am looking for non paraffin coated cotton gun bleached wicks. Any idea where I can find these (and which ships to Europe)? Thanks!

    1. Reply


      Hi Nadia! I don’t personally but let’s see if anyone responds where who does know! ; ) Lisa

  8. Reply


    Curious on your thoughts on recent buzz brands: Otherland and Heretic candles?

    1. Reply


      Hi Gregory! I LOVE that Heretic lists out their fragrance components (that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that!!!) I would start by combing through that list to determine if you want to bring it into your home or not – but just the fact that they are coming at us with never-before-seen transparency is leading me down the yes path on them. And with Otherland, I couldn’t find an ingredient list and after reading their lingo, I would wager they use synthetic fragrance, that would be my first question to them; “What’s in the fragrance that that you use in your candles?” xo, Lisa

  9. Reply

    Laura Bertram

    This is a great resource! Thank you 😊.
    What do you think of the candles from Organically Beauty Co.? I emailed them to clarify they are using 100% Soy wax.
    The wicks are organic hemp, and they otherwise only use essential oils for the scents.
    I have the Eucalyptus & Mint one right now and it’s quite pleasant.

    1. Reply


      Totally! I would ask if it is 100% soy wax or is it a blend…like you did. Otherwise, it looks great to me! xo, Lisa

  10. Reply


    Have you found any good options for taper candles? Or other candles not meant for scent but instead for ambiance? I have looked at the Big Dipper Wax Works candles but I’m unsure if their taper candles are a good option. I’m curious, did you look into their decorative candles or only the scented ones? They color them with vegetable based dye from Bekro. I was hoping to get ivory ones as they look a little more polished than natural beeswax but I think they use a dye for these ones too.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Aunika! Check out this Japanese brand which looks incredible!

  11. Reply

    Richard Petit

    Several of the noted candle companies claim to use non-GM soy. How is it possible when virtually 95% of soy grown is GMO?

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      I wonder about that too Richard.

  12. Reply


    Please consider my 100% pure beeswax non-scented candles with inspirational quotes at beambiance.com

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Thanks so much for this add Mel! xo, Lisa

  13. Reply


    Do you have recommendations for essential oils to diffuse? And also wax melts? I was gifted a wax burner and am having a hard time finding healthy waxes.

  14. Reply


    Is it possible the essential oils can become toxic if heated, and potentially cause adverse side effects if inhaled too long, if they are too concentrated (like in candles)?

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Matt! I know I emailed you back about this but I also wanted to add that I talked to the candle maker I work with and she noted that most all essential oils are heated during extraction too – just some food for thought ; ) Lisa

  15. Reply

    Alexandra M. Hunter

    Thank you for this post!✨💚 I think it’s safe to add http://www.herituals.com, but I’m not sure. What are your thoughts?


    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Cool, thanks, I haven’t looked into that brand yet!

  16. Reply


    Thank you for your article 💜
    Just ordered from Bea Lucia
    So excited to find options
    for non-toxic candles!!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Oh awesome! If you fall in love with one, be sure to report back! xo, L

  17. Reply


    Essential oils don’t work in candles because most essental oils have a low flashpoint (the temp the oil will evaporate) you may get a nice cold throw but you’re not going to get much of a hot throw. Patchouli is a thicker oil so it works well and there are clean fragrance oils by the way.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Thanks Stephanie! We’ve tested several essential oil only candles and their throw and ability to fill a room is REAL. And for sure, there are “clean” fragrance oils but the problem is, as consumers is we have no idea what those are. The ingredient disclosure on fragrances (clean or not) is lacking and most people don’t have the time or or knowledge to research and call companies to see if their fragrance oil contains diethyl phthalate, musk ketone, acetaldehyde, benzophenone and so on. This is a very easy work around and a valuable option for many people.

  18. Reply


    Hi there. Great article. I hear good things about Boy Smells candles. Have you looked at those? I love the woodsy scents: palo santo, cedar, ash, etc., so I’m looking for a brand that caters to that type of profile. Thanks!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Mark, I would not personally recommend the Boy Smells candles. I could not find any information on what they use to scent their candles. Check out this brand, I think you will find a winner here! xo, L

  19. Reply


    How about Eco candles out of Wisconsin?

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Bridget, from what I can tell, these candles are made with some synthetic fragrances…not that all synthetic fragrance is bad but the problem is non-disclosure. I personally want to know what’s in my products and saying “phthalate-free fragrance” does not do that for me. There can be thousands and thousands of chemicals in “fragrance” – according the the International Fragrance Association — and telling me that it’s a “phthalate-free fragrance” leaves me wondering what the other thousands of chemicals are. You know what I mean?

  20. Reply

    Holly B

    Thank you so much for this post:). Great resource!

    I also use Corda Candles which list their ingredients on their site. http://www.cordacandles.com

    Will definitely try some recommended in this post !

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