Paraffin wax is the most widely used wax in candles, regardless of whether this a dinner, pillar or scented candle, in other words, its shape, or whether it is a budget or luxury candle. Paraffin is still used by most branded and unbranded candles. These are main reasons why paraffin wax is the leading wax for candles:
- Price: it is cheap.
- Fragrance bloom: it has a higher melt point, which in turn means that the fragrance release, or ‘bloom’ as the pros call it, is stronger.
- Established: manufacturers know how to work with and are reluctant to change, unless they really have to.
Why are people critical of Paraffin Wax?
Paraffin Wax contains two ingredients, toluene and benzene, which are known carcinogens and harmful to the respiratory system when inhaled (not what you want to bring into your home).
The second criticism is that is not renewable. Some people say it is not ‘natural’, and yet this is obviously not true, as petroleum comes out of the ground and is then refined into different types of fuel, one of which being paraffin. In other words, it is natural but just not renewable.
The emergence of Soy
As a reaction to this criticism, some pioneering manufacturers have looked for alternatives. These alternatives, have to meet the following expectations for candles:
- Natural & renewable
- Fragrance bloom
- Clean burn
Here are some of the waxes that have emerged in recent times:
- Stearin: a very clean burning wax, which is hugely popular in Scandinavia
- Palm: clean burning but producers are criticised for deforestation
- Coconut: reasonable clean burn very soft (i.e. needs to be blended) and lacks in fragrance bloom
- Soy: ticks all the boxes but lacks in fragrance bloom
This why soy wax candles are another option on the market and are becoming increasingly popular due to their benefits. While soy wax candles may look and smell similar to their paraffin counterparts, they offer many distinct advantages.
Please note, not all soy wax candles are made without the unnecessary chemicals and may even have been blended with paraffin wax so make sure you read the label or ask the manufacturer if you are unsure of the ingredients in the candle.
Soy candles are made from soybeans, a natural, renewable source grown in many regions by local farmers. Using candles made from soy means you will be supporting the smaller agricultural farmers, allowing them to make money and grow their operations. It may be more expensive but your money will be going to a better place.
A candle made from soy wax burns much cleaner than one made from paraffin and will not smoke or soot, if it is well formulated, i.e. by a reputable manufacturer.
Paraffin candles often create a significant amount of black soot that not only collects on the jar, but also on your walls, other surfaces of your home and you may be inhaling it too. Have you ever noticed a darker patch on your walls behind a candle, well if you have this, it will be as a result of a paraffin candle.
Even badly formulated soy candle may accumulate some black soot on the jar, but the amount is likely to be much less than that of a paraffin candle.
Soy candles are also non-toxic, so they won’t release toxins into the air as they burn.
Soy candles typically last longer than paraffin candles of the same size. The reason behind the longevity of soy wax candle is the slower burning time and cooler burning temperature of the soybean-based wax. You may pay more for a soy candle initially, but the longer-lasting burn means you won’t have to buy new candles as often.
Renewable & Environmentally Friendly
Soy wax is biodegradable, making it a great investment that benefits both the environment and your enjoyment. Due to soybeans being a sustainable and renewable source, it won’t be hurting the environment as much as a paraffin candle would be due to it being non-renewable.
Soy wax is also not generally subject to animal testing and any spills can be cleaned up with soapy hot water, eliminating the need for solvents on your carpets or furniture. Also, most soy wax is free from pesticides and herbicides.
Cleaner Fragrance Bloom
A soy candle works well for holding onto the scent from essential oils, which are often used to fragrance candles. Because they burn more slowly, the scent is gradually released; there won’t be an immediate wave of strong scent.
As they are smokeless and sootless, the perfume will smell much cleaner than a paraffin candle. Especially with luxury perfumed soy candles you will not perceive this mix of smoke and fragrance that you get with a scented candle made with paraffin, even if it is a luxurious version.
This creates a much more pleasant atmosphere in your home for most people.
The one downside of soy wax is that it is not as hot as paraffin candle. This is an advantage when you have children but it does mean a soy wax candle needs to be burnt for a slightly longer period before it creates an aroma in your room that is as strong as a paraffin candle.
Watch out for soy candles that are blended!
Many manufacturers are jumping onto the soy candle bandwagon by mixing a little soy into their paraffin wax candles. It allows them to claim ‘natural’ and ‘soy wax’. Often, as little as 5 or 10% suffices to support these statements.
Obviously, this defeats the whole point of soy wax candles. So, how do you spot these fakes?
Here are a few easy pointers:
- Price: cheap candles are rarely pure soy wax candles.
- Soft: if the candle is hard, then it is very likely that it is fundamentally a paraffin candle with a little soy wax. Soy wax on its own, feels and looks softer.
- Text: what does the manufacturer say on the pack? If they don’t state that the candle is ‘free from’, then you may presume it contains paraffin. Most scented soy wax candle makers are very proud of their pure soy waxes and will mention that they categorically do not use paraffin.
We hope you feel now a little more confident when buying your next perfume soy wax candle and why you may light them with a confidence that you are looking out for the welfare of your family, friends and home.