terralite candles

Terralite Candles Review (+ Discount) and a chat with founder Jess Waters

In today’s article I’m sharing my detailed and honest Terralite Candles review. This is a clean-burning and sustainable candle brand that uses 100% organic essential oils for fragrance, 100% coconut wax, hemp wicks, and eco-friendly glass and ceramic containers. I truly love their all natural and non-toxic candles and light them at least a few times a week!

non toxic candle brand terralite

I’ve tested dozens of non toxic candle brands, so I know quality when I see it (in this case smell it) and I can certainly tell when one is a cut above the rest. Terralite is one of those brands.

I’ve tried a variety of their essential oil candles including their bestselling scents like Bourbon Cedar, Woodlands, Vanilla Lavender. I didn’t know essential oil scented candles could smell this good (and strong)!

If you’d like to try their candles, use Terralite discount code OBL to save 15% sitewide.

I also chatted with Terralite’s founder Jess Waters and she’s providing OBL readers with a very intimate look into how their candles are made and how sustainability is woven into every aspect of the company.

terralite non toxic candles

Terralite makes essential oil candles using natural, organic and wildcrafted ingredients.

What really sets them apart from other candles brands is their dedication to being as sustainable as possible in every aspect, from product to packaging.

Terralite offers 4 oz, 8 oz and 3-wick 16 oz candles in amber jars, 8 oz ceramic candles and tealights in 16 different scents. Prices range from $18 for a 4 oz travel size candle to $34 for an 8 oz and $56 for a 16 oz candle.

These prices are on the luxe end compared to other natural coconut wax candles, but you truly get what you pay for as I find there’s a noticeable difference between the budget candles and Terralite.

non toxic candle brand terralite

How strong is the scent throw?

Terralite candles have incredible scent throw for an essential oil candle.

I find that 100% essential oil scented candles have a more subtle scent and generally do not have the greatest scent throw.

You kind of have to be really close to the candle in order to get a good whiff of the scent, while Terralite candles will fill up a space so well you can smell it from any part.

And it’s not just the candle throw that’s great, but the quality of the scent. For instance, with their Vanilla Lavender candle the scent of the vanilla smells exactly like raw vanilla bean itself and the lavender is so real you feel like you’re in a lavender field on a really warm day.

How long is the burn time?

terralite non toxic candles

I find the burn time is average for a candle and not particularly longer lasting compared to other non-toxic candle brands.

Remember to practice proper candle burning and limit each session to a few hours max.

The more hours you burn a candle in one session the faster you use up the candle. To make a candle last longer you should burn it for max 1-2 hours during each session.

You can also keep it in the freezer so it burns slower the next time you light it.

Terralite Vanilla Lavender Candle

This is my favorite Terralite candle and I don’t think you can go wrong with any of their vanilla scents!

Vanilla Lavender is a robust yummy scent that’s deeply relaxing and intense at the same time. It’s amazing how strong this scent is for using only organic and wildcrafted essential oils.

Terralite Woodlands

Woodlands is another scent I love and it’s an intense woodsy aroma made of Fir Balsam, Spruce and Western Cedar.

As the scent develops from burning the candle a few hours it smells like you’re burning wood right in your living room. It’s a very cozy and calming scent that smells so natural and elegant.

Terralite Candles Discount Code – OBL saves 15%

Use affiliate code OBL to save 15% sitewide.

Check out: 24 Best Non Toxic Candles

terralite founder jessica waters

Interview with Terralite Founder Jess Water

I chatted with Terralite’s co-founder Jess Waters on how her career in environmental issues led to creating her own candle company, sustainability, her favorite candles, biggest learnings and so much more. 

Q: Tell us about your background!  

I hold a degree in Visual Journalism and have dedicated the last 24 years to sustainability and environmental issues. My focus has been on topics ranging from farm-to-factory operations and ocean health to wildlife trade, the impact of tourism on the environment, and sustainability trends within global supply chains. 

I have a deep understanding of how consumerism affects the natural world, alongside the challenges, potential solutions, and the inherent limitations of those solutions. Initially, my career involved creating natural history films for museums and wildlife networks, but now I utilize my media and communication skills for various projects, including Terralite.

Q: What inspired you to start a candle brand rooted in sustainability? 

Terralite began as a simple weekend hobby; a craft project that distracted Justin and me from the digital world that consumed much of our careers and time. What began as mere curiosity about candle making quickly led to a profound exploration into the realm of candle manufacturing. 

Initially, it seemed straightforward—after all, candle making is one of humanity’s oldest art forms. However, we discovered that the majority of candle products available today significantly diverge from the natural candles of  ancient times.  

The first thing we looked at was wax and wax composition. We discovered that most wax available to candle makers contained petrochemicals. 

There are six basic petrochemicals: ethylene, propylene, butylenes, benzene, toluene, and xylenes. All are derived from petroleum and are often mixed with other chemicals to create products like plastics and pesticides. 

Petrochemicals can also be found in candles in the form of additives or wax, for example, paraffin wax. Additives are often used in wax blends to  enhance candle performance. Some additives that are commonly found are hardeners, UV inhibitors, scent and color enhancers, and wax translucency boosters. 

Despite the existence of numerous plant based waxes, they each have their own environmental impact and few are suitable for candle making without the addition of chemical or natural additives.  

The complexity of candle composition doesn’t end with the wax. The wick, a seemingly minor component, typically undergoes chemical treatment to improve performance. 

Wicks are often treated with special coatings to reduce soot, control burn rate, or absorb higher scent loads. 

Although concerns about lead-core wicks have become largely outdated, with such wicks being phased out since the 1970s and officially banned in the U.S. in 2003, the environmental footprint of candle wicks remains a  consideration. 

Moreover, the secrecy of the perfumery industry complicates matters further, making it challenging to  ascertain the environmental impact of synthetic fragrances. The undisclosed nature of fragrance ingredients means that many candles, even those labeled as “phthalate-free,” may contain petrochemicals. 

According to the report of National Academy of Sciences, 95% of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum and include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, toluene, and many carcinogenic compounds. The lack of transparency surrounding these ingredients poses a challenge to truly understanding and mitigating the environmental impact of synthetically scented candles.  

Lastly, we took a look at the candle container. Did you know there are actually two types of candles? Free-standing candles, such as votives or dinner candles, do not require a container. 

These are crafted from hard waxes with a higher melting point, are typically smaller in diameter compared to their container candle counterparts, and are primarily used for ambient lighting. 

On the other hand, container candles are made with softer waxes that, when burned, form a melt pool inside the container. This melt pool is crucial for releasing the scent, which is why most container candles are scented. 

Containers can be crafted from a variety of materials, including plastic, aluminum, steel or tin, glass, and ceramic. Each material has a lifecycle to consider. For instance, most glass containers are made from virgin materials, also known as ‘flint glass’. 

A majority of ceramic containers, while reusable, are glazed with clear or  colored glass and therefore cannot be recycled or biodegraded, potentially lasting thousands of years.  Every component, including labels, caps, packaging, and shipping materials, plays a crucial role in product design and they each possess a lifecycle and environmental footprint.  

Faced with these insights, Justin and I emerged with a better understanding of what we didn’t want in a candle, driving us to question how we could create a better candle that would do less environmental  harm. 

The first step in our quest was to find a wax derived from a sustainable, plant-based source, leading us to discover coconut wax. 

We collaborate with a local facility to ensure that our container wax blend is free  of petrochemicals, primarily composed of hydrogenated coconut oil, and contains only plant-based additives, such as coconut and palm stearin. 

We believe this wax has the lowest environmental footprint because it is primarily made from coconut oil, which is sourced from the fruit of the coconut palm—a non-GMO plant that doesn’t require pesticides. Additionally, once the fruit is harvested, the tree is left to  stand, providing fruit for up to 60 years.  

With our wicks, we work with a manufacturer who produces a hemp-core wick braided with unbleached  cotton. These wicks are completely free of chemicals, which might necessitate a bit more trimming compared to other wicks but we feel this extra effort is well worth it. 

To scent our candles we use only pure, organic, or wildcrafted essential oils and plant extracts. About 60% of the essential oils, and CO2 extracts we use are certified organic. We work with suppliers that work directly with farms and distillers, to ensure that all the oils we use are sourced from plants that were grown without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  

For our containers, we use glass jars that were made with 60% recycled glass (cullet), complemented by  recyclable unpainted tin caps and recycled paper labels. Plus, our latest ceramic candle line features containers intentionally left unglazed. This design choice not only adds a touch of rustic charm but also means the ceramic vessel can be repurposed or even crushed and mixed into garden soil to improve aeration once their candle days are over.  

For our tealight candles, we make our wax blend by combining fair trade organic coconut oil with rice bran wax. This wax is made right here in our workshop. To complement our tealight candles, we’ve developed reusable tealight tins crafted from recycled steel, offering an eco-friendly alternative to the  disposable plastic cups that are all too common in the industry.  

Finally, we’re proud to say our shipping process is completely plastic-free. From the packing materials to the tape and boxes, everything is made from recyclable paper, ensuring our commitment to sustainability extends right to your doorstep.  

We’re mindful that every decision we make, whether big or small, affects both people and the planet.  Though operating a business inherently poses sustainability challenges, we are dedicated to continuously seeking ways to reduce our impact on the environment. 

This commitment is reflected not only in our product design and materials but also in our support for environmental initiatives. Since 2014, as members of One Percent For The Planet, we donate 1% of our profits to organizations focused on preserving ocean health and protecting wildlife. 

Q: What is Terralite and what are your values as a business? 

Terralite simply means “lite on the earth”, expressive of our commitment to producing only natural goods made with ingredients and materials that come from sustainable sources.

Q: How has Terralite grown or changed from when you first started the brand and now?

Our brand identity has evolved greatly since we first started. We have a better understanding today about what our brand is, what it represents, and the importance of our brand aesthetics and how our products look and feel to a customer once it enters their home. 

We aim to be gender-neutral in our design and design our products with a minimalistic yet functional style so that each product looks good in any home or commercial setting, regardless of your personal design aesthetic. 

There is a high level of quality our customers expect from us, and when we are our authentic selves, staying true to using only the best high-quality ingredients and sustainable materials, we find it becomes easier to meet that expectation. 

Q: What’s one thing about Terralite that readers may not be aware of?

We’re small; we may look big, but everything we do is run by just a few people. We have hundreds of  retailers, even some international, but Justin and I make and label every product we offer, we do all the  photography, web design and development, marketing, product design, product formulation, sourcing, packaging, and shipping.

It sounds like a lot, but we have media backgrounds, so many of these tasks are  just an extension of our career. I’m a freelancer, and Justin owns and runs a successful creative agency, so we still have day jobs, but Terralite is our growing side business. 

Q: What has been your biggest learnings/failures/successes so far? 

My biggest learning curve has been acquiring and often reacquiring all the knowledge related to  herbalism, aromatherapy, and wellness rituals. For example, discovering the nuances between oils is an entire learning process in and of itself. 

There’s a noticeable difference between fresh ginger root EO, dried ginger root EO, and ginger root CO2, plus you may find that the same oil from one source is wildly different from another source. 

All of this discovery is something that you can’t rush; it takes a lot of time, sourcing, testing, and sniffing. The quest for knowledge is never-ending, and no matter how  thoroughly I’ve explored something, I am still discovering new things, whether it be some new plant species with incredible aromatic qualities or healing properties, or an oil extraction from some corner of  the world that is unlike any other.  

By far, one of our greatest challenges and achievements is finding a shelf-stable, compostable solution for our single-use products. 

I wanted to offer consumers luxury self care products made with organic ingredients and launch the line with single-use bath and body products because they’re convenient for  travel, make great gifts, and enable people to try a product at a lower price point without committing to a  full-size version of that product. 

The primary issue however, aside from formulating great products, was the inherently unsustainable nature of single-use packaging. Our world is already oversaturated with  disposable items so I was adamant that our products wouldn’t contribute to this problem. 

Before formulating any single-use products, I needed to first find a sustainable packaging solution for those products. 

I knew our products would use a lot of organic food grade ingredients so I turned to food  packaging for inspiration. Food packaging requires a high oxygen and water barrier to protect the contents from deterioration and exposure to external elements. 

The problem is that most packaging is primarily made from mixed materials; for example, chip bags are made from aluminum laminated polypropylene—essentially a plastic grocery bag sandwiched between two thin layers of aluminum.  

While excellent for moisture protection, this material is not recyclable and will end up as garbage in a landfill. Fortunately the packaging industry has started producing sustainable alternatives. 

At the time, we tested every compostable material on the market, exploring more common materials like PLA (polylactic acid), a plant-based compostable bioplastic, as well as other various types of compostable materials. 

No matter what we tried, our products were clumping and become unsightly within just a few short days after packaging. As sustainable as those materials were, they do not have good oxygen and water barrier properties. 

It wasn’t until recent years that there have been incredible advances in the sustainable packaging industry that we now have more shelf-stable solutions. 

We currently use a material called NKME, a metalized cellulose-based compostable film with barrier properties comparable to aluminum, and put that between two layers of bio-based PBS (Polybutylene succinate) and Kraft paper. 

Although this is a mixed material packaging, the entire thing is free of petrochemicals, is  biodegradable, and certified home compostable, breaking down completely in 90-180 days. 

We began using it in 2023, and it has been a huge success, with shelf life tests exceeding six months. I am very proud of our single-use products; they ensure customers receive fresh, organic bath and body products in packaging that represents a truly sustainable solution. 

Q: Which are your favorite Terralite candles?

We just released a new essential oil candle called Nordic Pine, and it is the most wonderful winter blend, made with fir needle, organic peppermint, juniper berry CO2, and a sap-like resin called copaiba balsam.  

It’s a cool and refreshing blend inspired by the dense evergreen forests of high mountain snowscapes like those found in Nordic countries. 

I also love our Desert Sage for turning a space into a peaceful sanctuary and, of course, our super popular, limited edition White Pumpkin, which is only available during the Fall months.

Q: What vision do you have for Terralite’s future? 

We want to grow our single use collection to bring in more spa products and evolve our ceramic line to offer some larger candle sizes. We also have some exciting bath and body releases we’re hoping to launch this year that I think our customers are going to love, so keep an eye out for that!

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