Just like pretty much every other home and personal care product category (ugh!), candles can get confusing. The type(s) of wax used in candles is not actually regulated by any third-party entities, and the fragrances used can involve a whole host of toxic chemicals.
Soy candles have their downsides, but they’re a much better alternative to conventional paraffin wax, and in this article, you’ll learn why. Then we’ll give you the best brands for non-toxic soy candles (and we considered a LOT of brands!
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Featured image credit: Grow Fragrance
What’s Wrong with My Regular Candles!?
I know, I know… It can be hard to give up your favorite brand of candle. Scents have so much power to set a mood, to cultivate a cozy space, or just to cover up some stinky!
But the problem is that most conventional candles are made with paraffin wax, which is a petroleum product that’s not healthy for you to breathe in (especially indoors where it has nowhere to go and instead just lingers.) You can read more about the chemicals released when you burn a paraffin candle in our guide to non-toxic candles.
Are Soy Candles Actually Better? (Pros and Cons of Soy Wax Candles)
In addition to soy and paraffin, there are plenty of other types of candle wax, including beeswax, coconut, tallow, and even some unconventional ones like sumac (these are gorgeous!) and rice wax. So how do we know what type of candle is actually the best?
Well, they all have pros and cons! Soy can be better because:
- It’s a more natural, renewable resource compared to paraffin.
- It burns cleaner and produces less soot compared to paraffin.
- It’s more accessible and affordable compared to beeswax and coconut.
But soy has its downsides, too. Like:
- Soy wax cannot be organic. Even if the soybeans used to make it were organic to begin with, all soybean wax has to be processed using hexane, which makes it organic ineligible. (There are also several other chemicals and heavy metals needed to turn soy from a little green bean into a smooth, meltable wax.)
- The soybean industry is not exactly a sustainable one. It’s largely mono-cropped, which (although there are some advantages) is destructive to the soil, decreases necessary biodiversity, and requires a lot of pesticides.
- Manufacturers can (and do) sneak other types of wax into their “soy blend” candles.
- They don’t usually burn as long as beeswax and tallow candles.
Are All Soy Candles Non-Toxic?
Nope! It can get sneaky because soy candles are so often marketed as “eco-friendly” and “non-toxic,” but there is more to the candle than just the wax… The fragrance is just as important! Unfortunately, the “fragrance” part of a LOT of soy candles contains many hidden chemicals that include endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and other toxins. You can find out more about synthetic fragrances right here.
Watch Out for “Soy Blends”
As mentioned briefly above, you should also watch out for candles that are labeled as “soy blends.” What exactly is in that blend?! Paraffin? Maybe. Beeswax? Possibly. Palm wax? Perhaps. It could be any or all of those possibilities, and the point is that it’s practically impossible for the consumer to know.
We like to see brands that prioritize transparency with their ingredients. We would hate for a consumer to buy a “soy” candle thinking they’re making a better decision for themself and their family when it’s not really paraffin-free!
The 7 Best Non-Toxic Soy Candle Brands
There are a loooot of soy candles out there, but we’ve narrowed it down to some of our favorite brands based on a few things:
- Transparency of ingredients (there no “blends” here unless the brand has listed what’s actually in that blend!)
- Only natural essential oils and fully transparent fragrance blends (again, we’ve eliminated things like “phthalate-free fragrance oils” unless they’ve actually listed the exact ingredients because we don’t always know exactly what else might be in those!)
- Lead-free cotton, hemp, and wooden wicks
- Customer reviews, quality of scent, and the ability to set the mood!
Grow’s 100% certified plant-based candles are made from a blend of coconut and soy wax. We love the transparency of this brand—they list all of the ingredients right on the website. These are completely free of phthalates, parabens, petroleum, and synthetic petrochemicals. They’re hand-poured in small batches in North Carolina. Plus, they carry a beautiful, minimalistic concrete vessel which can be refilled for #lesswaste.
They also have really amazing room sprays, which are a great alternative to Febreze!
Wax: Coconut and soy
Size: 6.5 oz
We love how these vegan candles are topped with dried flowers and botanicals for a unique look! They’re handcrafted in Portland, Oregon out of 100% soy wax, natural essential oils, and a wood wick.
Wax: 100% soy
Size: 3 oz
Burn time: 8-12 hours
These candles are made with natural soy wax, cotton wicks, and essential oils. They are 100% plastic-free and come with an acacia wood lid so that you can use your candle holder as a container after you burn through it. Public Goods’ candles are vegan and made in the USA. They’re also one of the most affordable options compared to other non-toxic candles on the market.
Size: 3.5, 7, and 12.3 oz
Price: $6.50, $9.50, and $15.95
We love Sounds’ fun branding and bright scents (sunshine! optimism!). These are “poured with love” in small batches in Richmond, Virginia, using only pure essential oils and natural soy wax.
Size: 7 oz
Burn time: Approx. 42 hours
Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is the concept of creating an atmosphere of coziness for yourself, slowing down, and finding something special in everyday life. These vegan candles are meant to help you do just that. Hand-poured in Ohio out of only pure soy and high-quality essential oils, these candles are extra special because you can grow a plant when you’re finished with them!
Each candle comes with a reusable ceramic plant pot and a recycled/compostable wildflower seed paper label to plant when you’re done with the candle!
Wax: 100% pure soy
Size: 10 oz
Burn time: 55 hours
These soy candles infuse certified organic essential oils with a vegan coconut wax blend. They’re hand-poured into a reusable wine glass or whiskey tumbler in small batches in Los Angeles, California.
Wax: Organic coconut and non-GMO soy wax
Size: 8.5 and 16 oz
Burn time: 45 and 80 hours
Price: $34 and $46
If crystals are your thing, check out this brand. Made with a blend of soy and coconut and high-quality essential oils, they’ve got a crackling wooden wick and are infused with gemstones! With names like Nourish, Cleanse, Renew, and Bliss, these candles are sure to help you foster some moments of self-care. They’re handcrafted in New Jersey in a reusable glass vessel, too.
Wax: Virgin coconut soy wax blend
Size: 8 oz
Are Yankee’s Soy Candles Good?
Sorry to say it, but no. You can read all about what’s up with Yankee Candles right here.
What About Bath and Body Works Candles?
Sorry, but still no.
More Non-Toxic Candle Guides
Interested in other types of non-toxic candles? Check out these guides:
- the ultimate guide to natural, organic, and non-toxic candles
- non-toxic coconut wax candles
- natural beeswax candles
- non-toxic tallow candles
- what about Bath & Body Works Candles?
- holiday & winter candles
- pumpkin-scented & fall candles
Although they may have their shortcomings, soy candles are a great alternative to paraffin wax candles and are more affordable than other natural waxes like coconut and beeswax. When shopping for soy candles, just make sure to buy from transparent companies and watch out for mystery “fragrance!”
Image Credits: all product photos belong to respective brands