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How our new all-natural candle is different from most candles

Zoë Furlong December 11, 2014


Like a lot of people, we love burning scented candles at home, especially in winter: the aroma and diffused light makes for a warm, cozy ambience. Right around the same time we had our epiphany about all the toxics used in conventional skin care products, we started taking a much closer look at other things in our home, candles included. What we discovered wasn’t pleasant: pretty much every candle we had ever owned, even ones we thought were “all-natural”, contained synthetic fragrance and other unhealthy ingredients.

This is an especially big deal because of the environment in which people typically burn candles: closed-off spaces within the home, often during the winter when it’s too cold to open windows for ventilation (at least here in VT!). This means people are directly inhaling the toxic fumes, often for hours at a time. Based on what we’ve discovered, we would never ever burn a synthetic candle – or a so-called “natural candle” that’s really synthetic at its core  in our home again. The health risks are real. 

Here’s a summary of how our new Trailside candle stacks up vs. other candles on the market, the vast majority of which are synthetic candles with token amounts of natural ingredients sprinkled in:


Synthetic Candle


Wicks are reinforced with fine metals to keep them standing. When burned, this creates smoke comprised of metal particulates, which is inhaled by people (and animals) in the household. It can also stain walls and fabrics.  Wicks contain no metals of any kind.
Wicks are made of synthetic materials containing petroleum-based ingredients.
Organic, GMO-free hemp and cotton blend wicks. All wick materials sourced from within the USA.
Wicks are often bleached to appear more white
Wicks are not bleached.



Synthetic Candle


Typically made with paraffin wax, manufactured from residue leftover from oil refining (definitely not a renewable resource).

Made with soy wax, derived from soybeans (a renewable resource).

    Chemicals found in the fumes of paraffin candles have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and respiratory problems.

    Although nothing that burns is going to be 100% soot-free, soy wax candles burn much cleaner than paraffin alternatives.

    Even if a candle is 100% soy wax, it’s most likely from GMO soybeans (91% of soy grown in the USA is genetically modified).
    Made with non-GMO, pesticide-free soy grown by farmers in the USA.


    Wax Color:

    Synthetic Candle

    Often contains synthetic colorants which can cause toxic soot when candles are burned.
    Does not contain any colorants or dyes.
      Wax is often bleached (producing dioxin in the process, toxic to humans and an environmental pollutant) first in order for dye to show more intensely.

      Wax is not bleached.



      Synthetic Candle


        Does not disclose chemical ingredients, usually grouped on ingredient list as "fragrance"
        Lists all essential oils which impart the candle's aroma.
        Scented with numerous synthetic petrochemicals, some of which are linked to hormone disruption, sperm damage, central nervous system disorders, and more.
          Scented with essential oils derived from plants.
          Contains chemical scent enhancers (“boosters”) and phthalates to help spread fragrance through the air and make scent linger.
          Does not have synthetic “boosters” to amplify fragrance.



          Synthetic Candle


            Packaging suppliers often have little to no environmental commitment.
            Carton made using 100% wind power in a carbon neutral facility.
            Often use plastic and other non-recyclable materials.
              Carton made with 50% post-consumer fiber, 100% recyclable.
              Glass containers sometimes contain lead and other heavy metals which can leach out. 
              Tumbler glass is food grade.

              Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of how our candle is different from most other candles, the vast majority of which are really synthetic (often in spite of what’s claimed on the packaging!). If you’re convinced all-natural is the way to go, or if you just want a great-smelling candle, we invite you to check out Trailside



              • "Candles and Incense as Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution." Environmental Protection Agency, 2001.
              • "Combustion Characteristics of Candles Made from Hydrogenated Soybean Oil.” Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society, 2002.
              • "Dioxins and Their Effects on Human Health."World Health Organization, 2014.
              • "Scent of Danger: Are There Toxic Ingredients in Perfumes and Colognes?" Scientific American Global RSS. Scientific American, 2012.
              • "Soy Facts."Way Out Wax
              • "Study: Some Types of Candles May Pollute Indoor Air."CNN. Cable News Network, 2009.
              • "The Chemicals in Candles."Time. Time, 2009.

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