Scented candles… is it worth paying more?

According to research company Kantar, more than a quarter of British households buy scented candles, with the market being worth over £90 million. They are available everywhere and at every price, from just 85p in a glass holder in Ikea, a few pounds in the supermarket for an air freshener candle up to candles that cost hundreds of pounds. An average ‘premium brand’ candle however is likely to cost in excess of £30 or £40.

So, how do you work out which ones to buy and whether the more expensive ones are worth the money? Are the cheaper candles a false economy and are there any other factors to consider?

One important consideration when buying a candle to burn as a fragrance in your home is the main wax constituent. Many of the cheaper candles on the market are made from paraffin wax. Paraffin is a by-product of petroleum and therefore not a renewable energy source. Paraffin wax also produces a lot of smoke and can leave a soot residue on the walls or ceilings and some research suggests possible carcinogens. These candles are also usually fragranced with chemical based scents that can cause allergic reactions or give off toxicity into your home. They may be cheap, but overall consideration for the environment and health may be important factors to take into account.

There are alternatives to paraffin candles that are more eco-friendly based on clean-burning vegetable or bees’ wax. Bees’ wax is non-allergenic, non-toxic and smoke free, while vegetable wax candles are both toxin-free and long-lasting thanks to a cooler burning temperature.

As a yoga teacher, I’ve spent considerable time researching this so that I can burn candles in my classes that are both non-toxic and do not have an impact on the environment. Due to the frequency with which I use them another important factor was finding a candle that was reasonably priced.

Reasonably priced, non-paraffin wax candles that have long burning time and essential oils rather than chemical fragrances however are few and far between! Initially the ones that I found tended to tick most of the boxes except for the ‘reasonably priced’ one. The candles in this category such as neom organics use a blend of pure, natural vegetable wax and 100% natural fragrance (pure essential oils) and will burn for around 35 hours. The cheapest one of these however is £30 and so unfortunately out of the budget for me.

After much further searching, I have now found and tried a number of alternatives. The best that I have found so far are the aromatherapy candles in either ‘balancing’ (lavender, geranium & tea tree) or ‘anti-stress’ (lavender and bergamot) available for £9 from ethical gift company Green Tulip ( These candles are handmade in Wiltshire from clean burning, sustainable plant wax with pure essential oils and will burn for 25-30 hours. I’d really recommend them and use them on a regular basis in my yoga classes.

My conclusion then is that it is worth paying more than a few pounds for cheap supermarket candles that are not eco-friendly and will create smoke and possible toxins in your home. For just less than £10 though you can find eco-friendly, British made candles with pure essential oils that last just as long and are as good as the more expensive premium brand alternatives.

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