There’s just something about candles. In a single strike of a match, they can take your home from apartment to temple, transform your kitchen table into an intimate dinner for two, and turn your bathroom into an ethereal retreat. Maybe you love candles for their ambience, their scent, or as part of your personal rituals. Regardless of usage, we’ve rounded up the best functional candles that not only deliver on aesthetics but also actively heal your body and environment — and for added measure, we’ve also included some candle waxes to consider.
Beeswax is the most pure, minimally processed candle wax. It also acts as an air purifier and is a natural ioniser. In fact, it is the only natural occurring fuel on the planet to produce a balanced negative ion. Unsure of the definition of negative ions? Scientists have proven that anything floating in the air — be it dust, pollen, emissions from toxic furniture, viruses, germs, or bacteria — does so because it is ‘positively charged.’ Obviously, these can be harmful to our health. On the other hand, beeswax emits negative ions which bind with the positive ions, creating a complete molecule, which is heavier than air and thus falls to the ground.
Meaning once lit, beeswax candles purify the air of all of these toxins, odors, mold, and mildew. If you throw in some regular vacuuming, you can be sure that beeswax candles are one of the simplest, cheapest, and easiest ways to detox your home.
If you are not into heavily fragrant candles, these candles emit a light natural honey scent that’s not too overpowering. Beeswax candles also have a longer burn time than soy or paraffin candles and usually have a more golden flame because they do not contain chemicals.
Our Pick: Sunrise Beeswax Taper Set by Cave Glow Studio
Handcrafted in small batches in their Catskill studio, these handcrafted candles come in three gorgeous hues of gold, peach, and rose. Each candle is made with locally sourced pure beeswax, cotton wicks, and natural dye. We love this palette for a summery outdoor tablescape or a bright Sunday breakfast indoors. Cave Glow Studio also offers subscriptions and ships with plastic-free packaging.
If you are looking for an alternative to paraffin candles that are plant-based, coconut and hemp candles are excellent options. Just make sure the label details the complete ingredients and is 100% plant-based as some candles are only partially coconut or hemp-based and supplement the remainder with palm oil or paraffin.
Our Pick: Rosewood Vanilla Candle
From our most revered holistic beauty queen, Shiva Rose, this candle is one part an ode to Mother Earth and one part a sacred ritual. Hand poured and handcrafted, it’s also made of natural coconut wax and a lead-free cotton wick. In terms of its scent, this candle is a symphony of refined roses, wild forests, and a wisp of vanilla. Dreamlike yet wild, ethereal yet earthy, if you’re looking for a candle to transport you to some place else — this one’s it.
Things to Keep In Mind
If you’re reading this list and thinking — but what about soy? It’s a great question. The answer lies in your general relationship with soy. For example, some people avoid eating soy due to its estrogen levels. However, others have no issue with non-GMO soy products. Something else to consider with soy candles is their environmental footprint. South America produces a lot of the globe’s soy and the resulting deforestation has had devastating effects. Soy also requires an intense production process to create wax.
Many candles use lead or zinc wicks that can also emit potentially harmful fumes. Look for candles that use cotton, preferably organic.
Outside of their soft light, candles are predominantly used for fragrance. However, even if some candles are “100% beeswax or plant-based,” they can use toxic and chemical ingredients in their perfumes. We suggest looking for brands that only use essential oils.
Rachel Guest is the Editorial Director at THE FULLEST and a forever student of all things wellness and healing. She feels incredibly privileged to be able to learn as she edits the contributions from the inspiring and knowledgeable roster of THE FULLEST writers.