Candles are believed to have existed since the ancient Egyptian times, when they would stick the pithy core of reeds in animal fat. Fortunately, candles have come a long way since then. Unfortunately, most of the candles sold in America today are made with paraffin wax which is a byproduct of oil . Here's a look at the issue with paraffin wax and the better options out there.
Are soy wax candles better than your current candle?
100 percent yes. Soy wax is a better alternative to most of what is currently sold. So many candle companies still rely on low grade paraffin wax, which throws scent well, but may produce numerous toxic carcinogens and emit harmful vapors into the air. These toxins are very unsafe and can even cause cancer if too much is ingested. Low quality paraffin wax is unfit for candles because it must be blended with chemicals to be able to release fragrance, while soy wax naturally releases fragrance faster and for a longer period of time. Most importantly, soy wax supports American farmers while paraffin wax only supports the oil industry.
So, what is soy wax?
Soy wax is a vegetable wax derived from soybeans, which is a renewable resource, unlike petroleum based paraffin. To define soy wax more precisely, it is hydrogenated soybean oil. After harvesting the soybeans, they are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled and rolled into flakes. The oil is then extracted and hydrogenated. The process of hydrogenation converts some of the fatty acids in the oil from saturated to unsaturated. This process alters the melting point of the oil significantly, allowing it to hold fragrance better and be a solid at room temperature. This is a key element which makes soy wax a great material for candle making.
Why else is soy wax better than paraffin wax?
If you were ever to accidentally spill candle wax, you better hope it’s soy wax. Paraffin wax is much harder to clean or get out of carpet and fabrics. While soy wax cleans up easily with hot water and dish soap!
What truly makes soy better than paraffin wax is the fact that it’s renewable. As oil reserves continue to shrink, the price of paraffin will continue to climb. While the only limitation on soy supplies is how much we decide to grow. Soy candles burn cleanly and slowly, not blackening the air or walls with soot and are a better all-around candle than a low grade paraffin wax candle.
If you aren’t convinced yet, soy wax burns 25-50% longer than paraffin wax, and burns cleaner and completely.
Soy wax is biodegradable and does not emit high amounts of CO2 into the air. While paraffin wax is not biodegradable and does emit very high levels of CO2 emissions.
Please note that some people with soy allergies experience issues when burning soy wax candles. Soy wax is not perfect for everyone but it is a significant improvement from paraffin waxes.
What about the soy candle industry?
As an industry soy wax has already come a long way. The reason large candle companies avoided using soy wax is one, soy candles last longer so they would lose profits, and two, soy doesn’t throw scent as well as paraffin. However, wax makers have been working to change that and in fact, the soy wax today throws scent impressively well. Some candle makers even combine different types of wax to have a nice balance of appearance, burn, and scent throw.
Different factors like type of soy wax used and type and amount of fragrance oils and essential oils used all have an impact on how well candles throw scent. To test the effectiveness of a candle, trim the wick to 1/4 inch and burn for 3-4 hours in a medium size space.
At Backyard Candles we source the best performing soy and coconut wax on the market for our coconut shell candles. That means, wax that will burn slow, hold an impressive amount of fragrance, and burn evenly in a coconut. To learn more about our soy/coconut wax candles click here.