As soon as the weather cools and the first leaves start swirling past my windows, I gather my candles and light them. Sometimes I get them going during the grey days while I'm working at home, but especially in the evenings, nothing makes a room feel more snug than a few candles scattered around, (or grouped together, depending on the space).

Early in my environmental reporting career, I learned about how much more toxic indoor air was than outdoor (on average, the EPA estimates about 25 times worse — even in cities). And besides offgassing from paint, conventional cleaning products and furniture glues, one contributor to poor indoor air quality are scented products, including candles. Pretty much anything that gives off a scent, from dryer sheets and perfumes, to conventional candles and room fresheners contains fragrance, which is usually a toxic chemical cocktail (companies are not required to detail what's in their fragrance mixes, but many contain pthalates, which are known hormone disruptors, and VOC's — or volatile organic compounds, which contribute to respiratory difficulties and are especially hard on those with asthma). Some candles, especially those from outside the United States, can have metal-centered wicks, which should be avoided (some of these are lead-based; lead is a major toxin, especially for kids). 

But natural, chemical-free options abound. All the candles here are made from soy or beeswax, which not only burns longer than petroleum-based versions, but is made from a renewable resource — not a fossil fuel. Beeswax candles naturally smell like honey, whereas soy has a neutral scent. 



Blissoma's aromatherapy candles come in scent combinations I've never encountered before, and they are magically delicious. Currently, I've been burning Harmony (geranium, austrian silver fir, davana, and more oils) and Delight (Cardamon, nutmeg, black pepper, balsam peru, and cedar) and both of them are totally unique scents mixed in such a genius way they actually surprise me every time I light them. They come in aluminum tins (great for travel; I usually take a candle with me when I stay in hotels for a touch of home) which can easily be recycled. Made by hand, with 100 percent cotton wicks with no metal core, these soy candles are made without dyes or smell-extending chemicals and with essential oils — not cheaper oil smell-alikes. 



Sheer Soy's candles are elegant to behold, and delicious wafting through the room. There are plenty of scents to choose from — I've been very much enjoying the gardenia lately. It reminds me of my grandma, who loved the flowers, and it's a true, rich smell. While I'm loving the clean, floral scent, I'm dying to try one of the 'cafe' blends, which are mixes of cinnamon, coffee, creamy and pumpkin scents. These candles last for 70+ hours and the glass container can then be washed and used as a juice glass or recycled. 




Anna Sova makes the most colorful organic bedding around, but she also produces these gorgeous beeswax and essential oil candles in silvery-glass votive holders that beg to be reused. I love the Jaipur scent, a mix of lemongrass and ginger that's fresh and uplifting (great for a post-lunch boost when I'm needing some energy). 





The Scandle is a genius invention. Not only is it a travel-sized candle in a recyclable aluminum tin, it's formulated to be melted down a bit (which naturally occurs when it's lit — it warms to two degrees warmer than body temp) and works as a massage oil. So your room is scented like lavender, sage and citrus, or fig and brown sugar, and you will be too. Natural oils are mixed with soy in a secret formula to make the scandle — I'm dying to know what they are, but the company assures us they are totally natural — and after using the oil several times, I got the impression they were too. (Apparently, the combination of oils is patent pending).