If you like scented candles, this post is for you. A good candle can be powerful, transforming not only the scent, but the overall feel of any room. But before doling out entirely too much money on a candle for you or your loved one, I’d advise you to take a step back and look at the ways in which that candle can powerfully effect your health and environment, as well.

Usually, candle wax is made from paraffin--yet another petroleum by-product. As if I haven’t said it enough, you DO NOT want to ingest petroleum, through application to your skin, inhalation, or otherwise. In addition to the petroleum by-product wax, many candles also have wicks containing lead, which is harmful (some say poisonous) when inhaled. SO, before purchasing your next candle, please remember to review the ingredients and verify that the candle: 1) burns clean; 2) emits as little soot as possible; and 3) contains no lead or paraffin (soy, vegetable wax and beeswax are all good alternatives). Many candles don't have ingredient lists, so its up to YOU to do the research before buying—or at the very least, to ask me first!

Of course there are droves of healthier candle alternatives available these days, and as much as I’d love to, I cannot review them all. I can offer a few suggestions of brands I've tried and loved. Please find a short assortment below.

Cire Trudon: If It Ain't Broke...

You can imagine how thrilled I was when the oldest and most natural candle company in the world (candlemakers for Napoleon!) recently opened a U.S. boutique (they had only been in France until this Fall) in NYC! Beyond being the healthiest option I've found to date (using vegetal wax and cotton wicks) these candles have the most unique scent and design I’ve ever encountered (design is oftentimes lacking in the natural products world—let’s revisit this topic at a later date), even using labels from the oldest champagne maker in France. The store is also an experience in itself—the friendly and knowledgeable staff will explain the brand’s history and introduce you to intoxicating scents like Dada and Ernesto (my two favorites). Clearly this is the best of the bunch—their price tag is a bit offensive, but if candles are your luxury, Cire Trudon is for you. Period. If you can't make it to the NoHo store, the candles can also be found at Hu’s (D.C.), Gorsuch (Colorado), Barney’s, and various other locations. Looks as if their U.S. presence is on the rise, so look out for them in more stores soon. Did I mention they're supported by Greenpeace? So awesome.

Joya: Natural Candle 101

Joya candles have been around New York for a while—they even served as my introduction to the “natural candle.” The wax is made from palm oil and the wick is cotton (hopefully organic cotton—although I'm not certain), so clearly they get the NA seal of approval. The scents are on the warmer, cozier side than many others and the unique pours of wax give the candles a crystal-y look. Joya candles are great to pick up at the last minute, as you’re bound to find one on your walk home—they’re stocked everywhere in NYC—from grocery stores to salons, boutiques, and even hotels. And if you’re already paying for scented candles, Joya’s price point doesn't shock the system quite as much as Cire...

Patch NYC: Go Local

Patch candles are crafted in unison with the Soap & Paper Factory, in New York. Their candles are 100% soy wax, plus, you know how I like supporting local artisans! On top of all that, their (very cool) packaging is made from recycled materials. You can find these candles at all sorts of retailers, including ABC Home and Bird; there are even a few on sale right now at Barneys. I’d love to take a look at the S&P ladies’ factory one day soon. Field trip?

Lisa Hoffman: Award-Winning

Lisa Hoffman makes another great soy candle. The best part about these award-winning candles are their wooden wicks, which are nice to look at, and make a crackling sound when lit.

There are tons of great natural candles out there, but it is incredibly important to do your research before buying any. A great resource for small-batch, artisanal candles is Etsy (where I found the incredibly cool, bottle-shaped beeswax designs by PollenArts seen above). You can also always make your own candles with wax, essential oils, and a lead-free wick popped in the top. If you have the time, this could make for a great handmade gift for friends and family…but again, who really has the time?

Who makes your favorite natural candle?

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