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Vegan Candles — Best Cruelty-Free & Soy Wax Candles for Every Occasion

Are your favorite candles vegan? Here are the most compassionate vegan candle options for birthdays, holidays, cozy fall vibes, and home decor. You can find fantastic naturally scented candles, tea lights, classic taper candles, and more.
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Light up your life with the warm glow of a candle. Driving away the darkness with a flickering flame, candles set the mood for comfort and romance, add soothing scents, and beautiful any space. Though simple in concept, there’s an incredibly diverse range of plant-based vegan candles on the market.

What exactly are vegan candles made from, and how do you buy both ethical and high-quality options? It’s about time we illuminate the secrets behind commercial candle-making.

This article was written with support from GoodLight — a mission-driven candle company dedicated to making beautiful plant-based candles that are clean-burning, eco-conscious, naturally scented, and affordable.

package of colorful vegan birthday candles from Goodlight

Are Candles Vegan?

Some candles, but not all candles, are vegan. Since candles can be made from so many different materials, you always need to check labels to see exactly what you’re getting for every purchase. Let’s take a look at possible ingredients, additives, and issues.

What Are Candles Made Of?

Just like baking a cake, there’s no one way to go about it. Candles have been made for centuries using anything available, especially in times of scarcity. That’s why you might encounter some unsavory elements where you least expect it. Here are a few common candle bases:

Vegan Candle Bases:

  • Soy wax: Made from soybean oil, soy wax is arguably the best plant-based material for making candles with. It has a relatively low melting point, which makes it longer lasting, and hard enough to be stable without any additives. On top of that, it’s carbon-neutral, clean burning with no soot, and highly sustainable.
  • Coconut wax: Coconut meat that isn’t up to snuff as food doesn’t go to waste; it’s ideal for turning into wax! One of the benefits of coconut wax is that it’s a great carrier for scented oils. It’s ideal for aroma therapy but has a very soft texture which is why it’s often blended with other waxes.
  • Gel wax: Created from a combination of mineral oil and polymer resin, this wax is translucent and has a jelly-like texture. This unique consistency makes it a great artistic medium, since it can suspend glitter, sand, marbles, and other decorative items.
  • Paraffin wax: Affordable and abundant, paraffin wax is very popular for making many things, including crayons, lubricant, and of course, candles. It’s vegan but comes with a fair amount of controversy. Paraffin wax is made from petroleum, created by the process of refining crude oil into gasoline.
  • Carnauba wax (also known as palm wax): Just like palm sugar and palm oil, it’s very important to make sure you’re buying sustainable products. Conventional palm farming is responsible for immense environmental destruction, including deforestation of the world’s most diverse rain forests.

Non-Vegan Candle Bases:

  • Beeswax: As a critical part of beehive infrastructure, harvesting beeswax can be deadly to a fragile colony. The wax is never removed independently, but it goes along with the honey and honeycomb as well. This deprives the bees of the food they’ve worked so hard to produce, along with the storage space they’ve used to preserve it.
  • Tallow: Luckily, this antiquated ingredient is rarely used in candle making anymore. Tallow is rendered animal fat, which is as unpleasant to use as it sounds. No matter how many essential oils, you can never completely cover the aroma, to say nothing of the inherent cruelty involved.

Most candles are made from a blend of waxes and oils, so be sure to read all the way through the label to make sure you don’t miss something. It can be as little as 5% beeswax that ruins an otherwise perfect purchase.

Vegan Candle Brands We Love

There are plenty of brands that only produce high-quality, fully plant-based candles. If you just want to relax by the candlelight without putting your detective hat on, here are a few of our favorites, including the most notable vegan candle brand, GoodLight!

  • GoodLight makes clean-burning, paraffin-free candles that support sustainable palm farmers and benefit orangutan rescue and rehabilitation. Their offerings run the gamut from home décor scented candle jars and tins, to functional and ceremonial candles, with scents (or not) for every occasion. They make the most accessible Hanukkah candles, vegan birthday candles, tealights, tapers, pillars, and more.
  • Hyde Nor Hare is a vegan-founded small candle company that has a wide variety of naturally scented candles. Their candles are a made of soy wax, a raw cotton or paper wick, phthalate-free fragrance oils, a glass jar, and a metal lid. That’s it. Pure and simple. Plus, they donate 5% of their profits to JP Farm Animal Sanctuary, which we love!
  • Big White Yeti candles not only have fantastic names (like “Champagne Problems” and “Sugar, Spice, and Reproductive Rights”), but they’re all vegan too! The candles are made with soy wax (no chemical hardeners, phthalates, or any of the yucky stuff), and and even the scents that reference things like “honey” are synthetic and vegan. They come in small tins and larger frosted glass or amber jars.
  • Coco Benjamin offers 100% vegan soy candles that are hand-crafted and infused with premium scents. Fill your home with the smell of warm cherry pie or fresh linen with the flick of a match.
  • BLKessense offers cruelty-free tabletop candles and vegan wax melts that are hand-poured using coconut soy wax. These candles are lovingly handmade in Berkeley, California, but can ship across the US.
  • Hithys has giftable vegan candle tins that you can order right from Amazon.
  • Mrs. Meyers makes scented soy candles in little tins and larger glass jars, that align with the scents of their cleaning products. They usually release new or seasonal scenes over the holidays.

Etsy is a fantastic place to shop small for artisan-made candles. A simple search for “vegan candles” will provide a whole array — just beware some shops use the vegan keyword even when the product isn’t vegan, so you may see some beeswax candles pop into the mix.

“Accidentally Vegan” Candle Options

You can find some fantastic “accidentally vegan” candles from mainstream stores and brands. But beware, it can be a little tricky to determine if candles in-the-wild are in fact truly vegan. A candle labeled “soy wax” is likely vegan, but unless it’s specifically labeled vegan, or you contact the company, it’s hard to tell for sure.

Some popular candle companies like Yankee Candle can also be an option! Most of Yankee Candle’s candles are vegan, except those that contain beeswax. However, Bath & Body Works is far less reliable, as it’s nearly impossible for consumers to trace the origin of their candle ingredients.

No matter which ones you choose, you’ll be glad you went the extra mile in finding candles that align with your ethics and the sustainability of our planet.

vegan hanukkah candles in box with menorah

Specific Types Of Vegan Candles

Birthday Candles: The candles are some of the smallest and quickest burning around. They’re always made with food-safe ingredients, since there’s a good chance they’ll drip onto your cake before you finish singing “happy birthday.”

Hanukkah Candles: Very similar to birthday candles but larger and longer lasting, Hanukkah candles are sometimes blessed by a rabbi to be deemed suitable for the holiday. You can buy them in packs that are exactly enough to celebrate the 8 nights without running short.

Taper Candles: Otherwise known as dinner candles, these are tall, slender candles that can burn for roughly 8 hours and need a holder to stand upright.

Pillar Candles: Thick enough to stand alone, these are some of the most popular candles for home décor. The wicks tend to burn a divot into the center, so the wax doesn’t overflow onto countertops or tables.

Tea Lights: Small, lightweight, and very inexpensive, tea light often come in packs of a dozen or more. They’re ideal for mood lighting, jack-o-lanterns, or memorials. They last for about 2 hours apiece.

hand holding a box of plant based tea light candles from the brand GoodLight

Frequently Asked Questons

Q: Are Yankee Candles vegan?

A: Most Yankee Candles are made from plant-based ingredients, but not all. The tall taper variety are made with beeswax, making them not vegan, but all the rest are made from paraffin wax.

Q: Are Bath & Body Works candles vegan?

A: Sourcing for Bath & Body Works’ candles is far from transparent, making it difficult to get clear answers about what you’re really getting for your money. Although it many seem to be made with plant-based materials, there’s no consistency across the brand, and some activities have found animal testing involved in production. You want cruelty-free candles, you’re better off shopping elsewhere.

Q: What are candle wicks made of?

A: The most common core materials for candle wicks are cotton, paper, zinc, and/or tin. The differences will determine for how long or cleanly the candles burn. Fortunately, these are all vegan, so there’s no ethical concern about the material here.

How Can You Make Your Own Vegan Candles?

If you’re an avid crafter and DIY-fanatic, you might enjoy making your own vegan candles from scratch! You can make exactly what you want, ensure the highest quality ingredients go into them, and create some lovely gifts to share with friends and family.

  • Don’t want to purchase specialty waxes right away? For an easy way to make candles from household items, you can make an Olive Oil Menorah, using small glass votives, olive oil, water, and wicks. That’s all it takes to have your own Hanukkah miracle!
  • Create a simple scented Soy Candle in mere minutes that will last for hours of burn time. Any glass, jar, or cup will do for a vessel, which means you have plenty of options for personalization.
  • Get your artist’s hat on and make a beautiful Gel Candle, in any color or pattern your heart desires. This is a great activity to get the kids involved in, too. Just be careful when handling hot wax.

More Vegan Resources for Holidays & Celebrations

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7 comments
  1. This is super useful! I’ve been transitioning to buying only vegan candles recently so I’m excited to try some of these brands

  2. Perfect gift for the upcoming season!

  3. I’m so glad that you featured the Goodlight candles! I love them! I’ve been using them for years and they burn so cleanly. Thank you for this helpful guide. I just adore candles and it’s wonderful to be able to have more vegan options.

    • Hi Gina! We know you! Thanks for being a long time loyal GoodLight burner. 🙂

  4. I love this guide! So many amazing vegan candle brands out there 🙂

  5. ill definitely be reffering to this article when i need to buy candles! thank you!

  6. This vegan candle guide was so helpful! Can’t wait to check out these vegan candle brands!