The benefits of soy wax candles have convinced many candle makers to use only soy wax for their creations, and candle enthusiasts to choose soy over candles made from other types of wax. Soy can be a terrific medium to use for candles, but as with all products, it's important to read labels and know exactly what you're getting.
About Soy Wax
Soy wax is made from soybeans, and is a solid form of hydrogenated soybean oil, making it a natural and renewable product. Unlike paraffin, which is a by-product of crude oil refining, soy wax is a relatively pure compound with which to make candles.
The Benefits of Soy Wax Candles
There are many real benefits to using soy when making candles, or purchasing candles made from soy wax. Soy can be more expensive than paraffin, but the benefits of soy wax candles can be worth it.
Since soybeans are grown extensively, soy wax is readily available and renewable. Other natural candle waxes like beeswax or bayberry wax can be very expensive and their supply is limited. On the other hand, soy is a consistent and viable alternative for those who prefer candles made from natural, renewable sources.
Soy wax burns more slowly and evenly than paraffin, so candles will last longer. Even though you'll pay a little more for soy, the fact that your candles burn longer helps to offset the extra expense. Many people claim that the lower heat of a soy candle will also ensure that the scent will last longer, but this tends to depend more on the quality and amount of scent oil in the candle than the heat of the wax.
Candles made from soy wax will give you a cleaner burn since they produce much less smoke than candles made from paraffin. This means that anyone sensitive to candle smoke will have a much easier time with soy wax, and the air will be cleaner and safer for everyone, especially young children and the elderly. There is also less risk of smoke damage to nearby furniture, walls, or ceilings.
Easy to Clean Up
Soy wax has a lower melting point than paraffin, so the wax turns softer at lower temperatures. If you find yourself with a soy wax spill, it can be cleaned up with soap and hot water rather than harsh chemicals. For candle makers, this is also a handy feature since equipment can be cleaned in the sink under hot running water, or even in the dishwasher.
Adaptable and Easy to Work With
Most forms of candle wax are simple to work with for candle makers, and soy wax is no exception. It is almost as adaptable as paraffin, and you can color and scent the wax, or create interesting shapes and designs in the same way as you would any other candles. Soy can be mixed with other types of wax, such as beeswax, to create interesting blends.
Vegan Soy Wax Candles
Soy wax candles are a great choice for anyone practicing a vegan lifestyle. You can find soy wax candles made from 100% organic non-GMO soy oil. Soybeans are a sustainable resource and soy wax candles are 100% biodegradable. You can also find soy candles scented with organic and natural essential oils in soy candles.
Non-Petroleum Candle Choice
Another reason cited for choosing soy candles was an environmental concern since paraffin wax candles are made from petroleum. If you wish to reduce your use of fossil fuels for a greener candle, you may wish to select soy candles instead of paraffin.
Soy Wax Candle Facts about Fragrances
According to Pairfum, the soy candles release four times less as much fragrance as the paraffin candles. That's because the soy candles have a lower melting point. Pairfum states the solution is large amounts of the fragrance should be added throughout the wax. However, many companies cut this cost by adding more synthetic fragrances and other chemicals to boost the scent. Parifum chose a higher grade of soy wax that provides a higher burning point and then added other waxes to help raise the melting point to aid the release of fragrance.
Fragrances for Soy Candles
The NCA states there are over 2,000 aroma chemicals and essential oils that have been used to develop various candle scents. These same aromas are used in perfumes, lotions and other scented health and beauty aids.
Soy Wax vs Paraffin Wax
The soy wax candle melting point is lower than paraffin and provides a longer burn time than paraffin candles. One reason many people have abandoned paraffin candles is the believe that paraffin wax candles are harmful to their health and soy wax candles are a healthier choice. This controversy began with a 2009 South Carolina State University (SCUS) study on the harmful chemicals produced by burning paraffin wax candles, especially the soot.
National Candle Association Challenges Study
The National Candle Association (NCA) questioned the findings of SCSU. In fact, the NCA and various international candle associations paid for an independent study on paraffin wax candles and beeswax, soy, and palm wax candles to determine what chemicals each of these wax candles emit. The conclusion was that all the candles produced nearly identical combustion and were safe to use.
Maastricht University Study
However, Banyan Tree cites a 2004 Maastricht University study that found "potentially carcinogenic polycyclic hydrocarbons" levels in churches that were assumed to be the result of burning low-quality candles made from paraffin wax over many years. The soot from paraffin candles is the culprit cited in the study for emitting harmful toxins.
Tips for Selecting Healthy Soy Candles
There are a few things you want to keep in mind when shopping for soy wax candles. Be sure you read the labels and website descriptions, so you understand what the ingredients are.
- Non-organic soy wax candles may contain pesticides and GMO soy oil.
- Some soy candles are a blend of animal and other plant products.
- Don't burn your candles longer than 4 hours at a time to ensure your candle burns evenly.
- The NCA states that a properly trimmed wick (1/4" long) will reduce/eliminate candle sooting. If sooting occurs, blow out the candle and once it is cool trim the wick to 1/4" high.
- Trim the candle wick before each burning time to ensure the candle doesn't produce soot.
Cautions When Buying Soy Wax and Soy Candles
While there's no doubt that soy wax is a great product, as a consumer you should keep your eyes open and read labels to make sure you're getting a genuine soy wax candle. Here are some tips for candle purchasers and crafters alike.
- Be wary of cheap candles that claim to be made of soy wax. Many of these dollar store gems are actually made with a paraffin/soy blend that can be very skimpy on the amount of soy wax that's incorporated into the mix.
- Since soy wax can be a softer medium than paraffin, additives are often added to make the wax harder. If you're at all concerned about the additives, ask the candle manufacturer or crafter if the product is indeed 100% natural.
- Other candle additives can include fragrance and color. Often these additions can be natural, such as essential oils and vegetable-based dyes. When this is the case, these details are almost always noted on the label.
Try the Switch to Soy
If you haven't tried candles made from soy wax, it's worth picking up a few to see if you notice a difference. You just might find that you prefer them!