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June/July 2003
Blow-out! Plant-wax Candles
By Catherine Clyne


Leave it to Satya to sniff out a shady side to something as (seemingly) harmless as candles. That’s right—relaxing, softly glowing, scented candles.

Did you know that most candles emit toxins that can give you headaches and nausea at best, or worse—be absorbed into your body to accumulate and cause damage somewhere along the road? Rather than beeswax, commercial candles are usually made of paraffin, a petroleum product that when burned, releases carcinogens in a sooty smoke that—blackening walls and furniture—is absorbed by the lungs. Scented candles often have synthetic fragrances added, some of which are quite dangerous when burned. Mix in the chemical fixatives and synthetic glosses that bind the candles, and bleached cotton wicks and metal-laced cores, and you’ve got quite a foul stew.

It’s not easy to avoid this, since candles are not required to have ingredients listed. So what to do? The good news is there’s a growing number of enlightened candle makers who are creating “clean-burning” candles made from plant-based renewable resources. So if you like to relax with softly glowing candles, we discovered a few nice ones, but there are many others out there.

Greenspace Naturals
We were intrigued by this small Portland, Oregon based, woman-owned business. Greenspace Naturals makes high-quality vegan candles from soy wax and hemp oil with non-chlorine bleached wicks that are 100 percent hemp or cotton. Laced with essential oils, these clean-burning candles come in recycled glass or tin containers (which prevents accelerated melting). The aromatherapy candles have unusual combinations of essential oils, like “Lunar Lavender,” a blend of lavender and cinnamon with a hint of ylang ylang, or “Lemon Squeeze,” with lemongrass and cinnamon ($8.45 six oz. tin; $13.88 glass square). The cinnamon adds a surprising and refreshing touch of spice. Greenspace Naturals does not use paraffin wax, animal products, synthetic fixatives, or chemical glosses. A portion of their profits is used to help preserve the environment and fight animal cruelty.

To view or order from their online catalog, visit, or call (503) 289-4206.

Way Out Wax
Way Out Wax, located in the Green Mountains of northern Vermont, creates a few lines of handcrafted candles. The vegan aromatherapy candles from the “Green Mountain” collection are quite heavenly and not overbearing. “Escentual Love” brightly burns a blend of rosewood, patchouli, and lavender, and if you’re feeling congested, “Clear Your Head” with cool and refreshing eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary, will take care of that (travel tins: $6.30 four oz.; $10.70 eight oz.; and 3” glass jars: $14.90). To relax and discourage mosquitoes and other insects from feasting on you, there’s a new twist on the old cintronella—the “Hemp Cintronella,” a blend of soy wax, hemp seed oil and pure essential oil of citronella (travel tins: $6.30 4 oz.; $12.98 12 oz.; 2 lb galvanized tub: $19.90). To learn more about the candles from Way Out Wax, visit or call (888) 727-1903.

Kiss My Face
Most people are familiar with Kiss My Face for their fragrant soaps and lovely lotions, as well as other body care products. But who knew they have a whole line of vegan aromatherapy candles? Made from 100 percent soy wax and essential oils, these candles feature unbleached cotton wicks, are biodegradable, and come in attractive recycled glass containers. The “Anti-Stress” candle with fir needle, lavender, rosemary and orange, and the “Sanctuary” with clove and ylang ylang are quite soothing, and they come at a reasonable $15 each. Light one to glow beside the bathtub, and you’ll drift into bliss. (Though lovely, some were a little too pungent.)

Kiss My Face also makes wonderful gels that make a frothy aromatherapeutic bath. “Early to Bed” bath and shower gel ($9) is a house favorite, with a relaxing combination of clove, chamomile, jasmine, lavender, neroli and ylang ylang.

Find them in your favorite health and beauty aids store or visit to make a purchase.


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