Taking a bath surrounded by candles is so identified with the concept of “relaxation” that it’s become a total cliche. But cliches exist for a reason: roses are beautiful and smell great, so of course they’re a classic romantic gesture; if you judge a book by its cover, you’ll miss out on some great reads… the list goes on and on.
In that same way, there’s something extremely soothing about being surrounded by gentle candlelight—especially in the age of unpleasant LED lights. However, there are some concerns something that make the experience of candelight considerably less soothing: candles aren’t regulated by any federal agencies (neither the FDA nor the EPA claim jurisdiction here), meaning that the makers aren’t responsible for incorporating ingredients that, when lit on fire, may release potentially problematic—if sweet-smelling—particulate contaminants into your home.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that your favorite scented candle is necessarily releasing compounds that are bad to inhale. It just means that nobody’s paying attention whether or not they are, and there have been a few studies that indicate many scented candles contain compounds that can affect air quality, which can be harmful to your health. Until there’s some regulation in the industry (which… given that it’s getting inhaled, there really should be) the jury will probably remain out. Either way, we’d rather fill our homes with sustainable, problematic-compound-free candles that aren’t making anyone sick (and if they’re made by small artisans operating locally, so much the better, right? Who needs to support Bezos becoming a trillionaire)?
We rounded up some of our favorite, totally good-for-you candles to help you chill out and make your home feel a little calmer—which we all need right now.
P.F. is an independent, woman-owned business that makes vegan, cruelty-free, and phthalate-free candles from 100% domestically-grown soy wax. Free of phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, and Prop 65 chemicals, so you can breathe in and chill out, worry-free. The Amber & Moss scent feels warm and woodsy, evoking a weekend away in a cabin in the mountains—a mini-break in a jar.
Hand-poured in a small studio in Virginia, these candles are made out of filtered beeswax and pure cotton wicks, which burns cleaner and more slowly than the standard paraffin. Using these candles also means supporting beekeeping, so they’re a great way to help support necessary pollinators. The company also offers classic tapers for your dining table, honeycomb hand-rolled pillars, and scented candles made with pure essential oils—although natural beeswax has a light honey scent all on its own.
Handmade in Alberta, Canada by Colleen DeSantis and her team, this small, eco-conscious company makes handcrafted artisan candles completely free of toxic and unsustainable ingredients. Made entirely of North American-grown renewable soy wax, these environmentally safe, biodegradable candles use minimal packaging, so there’s less waste. “Happiness” is an especially bright, uplifting scent; a combination of sweet orange and vanilla, perfect for a little meditation session (or just a good Netflix binge).
Prosperity’s candles are made from a clean-burning soy and coconut wax blend, 100% cotton wicks, and are formulated without any dyes or enhancers (which means they’re about as safe as can be). Supporting this company also means helping out people who really deserve it, too—these candles are handmade by a small group of women recently relocated to the U.S. from refugee camps, and the company is B-Corp certified for community and environmental sustainability. What’s better than supporting good people who make good things?
Handcrafted from pure soy wax, lead-free wicks, and essential oil-infused fragrance oils, Unlax’s candles are pure and dye-free. All of their scents are pretty great, but the combination of salt air and light orchid scent is especially delicious—with your eyes closed, you can pretend you’re on a beach somewhere warm and relaxing, feeling the sand between your toes. Unlax also supports the nonprofit One Tree Planted, so a purchase of one of these candles means you’re also helping to plant a tree—so you can feel triple good about your choices.