Paraffin Wax vs Soy Wax Candles - Which is Best?
With an abundance of candle brands to choose from, which brands do you go for, and more importantly, which candles are best?
The two most common bases for candle blends are Paraffin or Soy, with paraffin candles gaining notoriety for being unhealthy in recent years, whilst soy wax candles have risen in fame as a healthy alternative.
We’ve spent some time researching so let’s go into some more detail about the differences between them, and what you may wish to consider when next buying your favourite candle.
We’re going to look at what science has found about burning candles and separate the facts from common misconceptions.
- What is Soy Wax?
- What is Paraffin Wax?
- Soy Wax is All Natural
- Soy Wax is 100% Biodegradable
- Soy Wax is More Sustainable
- Soy Wax Produces Less Soot
- Soy Wax Contains Less Toxins
- Soy Wax Burns Longer
- Soy Wax Has A Lower Melting Point
- Soy Wax Fragrances Are Stronger
- Soy Wax Spills Clean Up Easier
What is Soy Wax?
Soy wax is made from soybean oil.
The soybean oil is extracted from the beans using a solvent, or by means of a mechanical press.
Soy wax is then made by using a process called hydrogenation.
The soybean oil undergoes a process using a hydrogen solution, so that it solidifies and thus wax is formed.
Soy wax also burns slower than paraffin wax, meaning you'll get a candle that lasts longer.
Soy wax is non-toxic and is considered to be a clean-burning fuel source.
It is typically colourless and has an opaque tone.
And while all candles emit some black soot while burning, soy wax burns cleaner and results in less soot than paraffin.
Soy candles are 100% vegan and do not require any animal products in their production or use.
Soy candles are grown in many regions by local farmers.
Using candles made from soy supports local agriculture and farmers, allowing them to make money and grow their operations.
What is Paraffin Wax?
Paraffin wax was discovered in the 1800s, and since then has been a cornerstone of the candle making industry.
Most candles that you find today are made of paraffin wax, but unfortunately, it’s not the safest compound to be inhaling as it burns.
Paraffin wax is petroleum based and is manufactured by using crude oil, which is a fossil fuel.
It is considered to be a ‘natural’ product since at the end of the day on a molecular level, crude oil consists of a mixture of hydrocarbons which derived from decomposing plants and animals.
It is also classified as being a clean-burning fuel source since it meets the various requirements set by regulations in this regard.
However, many feel despite the fact that you can find paraffin wax used widely for candle production, it’s not such a good option, especially if you compare it with soy wax.
One of the main drawbacks of paraffin wax is it tends to leave a sooty residue and as a result, in most cases you do not achieve a clean burn with candles made from paraffin wax.
The emissions from paraffin candles can build up on walls, staining the paint in your home and discolouring ceilings.
Moreover, there are also debates that there are carcinogenic compounds present in paraffin candles which understandably is quite alarming.
Soy Wax is All Natural
One of the main reasons why soy wax candles are being favoured is the fact that they are all natural products.
As stated earlier, soy wax is derived from soybeans, while paraffin wax is made from petroleum.
Hence there is no denying that soy wax candles are far better than paraffin candles in this regard.
Soy wax was discovered recently during the 1990’s, and has since become a great alternative to paraffin candles, since it is both natural as well as more sustainable, allowing home fragrance brands manufacture ethically and sustainably.
Soy Wax is 100% Biodegradable
Soy wax is biodegradable as it is made from soybeans.
As soybeans can be eaten, they are safe and do not contain any toxins or carcinogens.
Soy wax is thus safer health wise, as well as better from an environmental point of view.
While soy wax is completely biodegradable, paraffin wax is not.
Soy Wax is More Sustainable
Rather than depending on fossil fuels like crude oil, soy wax can be derived from soybeans, which are obviously much more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
On the flip-side, paraffin wax is not sustainable since fossil fuels cannot be renewed.
Since the discovery of soy wax, there’s been a growing demand for these types of products and it’s generally considered the better wax to use in candle making.
As a result, there’s many farmers who are engaged in the growing of soybeans.
Soy Wax Produces Less Soot
One of the key advantages of soy wax is that it produces less soot when burning compared to paraffin and therefore allows you to enjoy a cleaner burn.
In addition, they do not leave sooty residues associated with paraffin candles, that generally get left behind on the sides of the candle holder.
Soot results from the incomplete combustion of fuels which contain carbon and in the case of paraffin candles, it is the petroleum that causes this.
Naturally, since soy wax candles are not made from petroleum, there is no petrocarbon soot to worry about.
The low soot levels are beneficial in maintaining better air quality as well as reduce any problems associated with soot deposits, such as possible damage and even health problems.
Having said that, it’s important to point out that both paraffin as well as soy wax candles can create soot, as this depends on how the candle is made as well as how it is burned.
However, the chemicals present in the soot emitted from paraffin wax is far more hazardous than that of soy wax.
Another important factor to mention here is that wax itself is not toxic at all.
Both paraffin as well as soy wax have to pass various tests and meet certain consumer standards in order to be sold on the market.
The most important thing is that when you burn candles, you consider aspects such as where you are burning the candle, and how it is burning, to reduce the amount of soot that is produced.
However, overall soy wax candles do produce far less soot when compared to paraffin wax candles.
Soy Wax Contains Less Toxins
Paraffin candles release soot particles which can contain carcinogenic compounds.
Obviously soot particles are minuscule, and so they can easily penetrate the lungs and may contribute or cause a variety of health problems, such as respiratory diseases.
Since these carcinogenic compounds can be cancer-causing agents, paraffin candles’ petrocarbon soot is considered to be a toxic airborne agent.
On the other hand, soy wax candles are not toxic since they are all natural and so they do not release this kind of hazardous soot.
Soy Wax Burns Longer
One of the main aspects to consider when buying candles is the burning time.
Naturally you would prefer a candle that offers a long burning time, and in this case soy wax candles are the winners.
This is because soy wax candles can burn for longer than paraffin candles.
Generally, you can expect a soy wax candle to burn between 30 and 50 percent more time than a paraffin candle would.
This depends on a variety of factors, including the dimensions of the candle, as well as the length of the wick, among others.
It is recommended that the candle’s wick is trimmed down before every ignition, and to avoid burning the candle for more than four hours at a time to avoid overheating.
Soy Wax Has A Lower Melting Point
Soy wax has a low melting point, allowing it to burn even in cooler environments.
A low melting point is also better as far as safety is concerned.
The wax is less likely to scald if touched, which is an important consideration for households with curious little hands or inquisitive pets.
In fact, soy wax is less likely to cause burning than paraffin wax.
Paraffin wax, on the other hand, has a considerably higher melting point, mainly attributed to its defined crystal structure.
The melting point of paraffin is between 120 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Soy Wax Fragrances Are Stronger
Soy wax fragrances are stronger than paraffin wax and this is mainly attributed to the fact that there are no toxins or soot released in the air when they are burnt, unlike paraffin wax.
The cleaner burn of soy wax thus allows for a stronger fragrance profile to be achieved, allowing you enjoy the fragrance as it fills the room.
Soy Wax Spills Clean Up Easier
Have you ever spilled paraffin wax?
It requires a substantial amount of time to clean and is often difficult to clean completely and will very often leave residue that you can’t remove.
Soy wax on the other hand, can be cleaned relatively easily with regular soap and water so for this alone, it makes better sense to burn soy candles instead of paraffin!
As you may conclude after reading through the differences between soy wax and paraffin wax, soy wax has several positive features that rate it over paraffin.
So if you’re concerned about breathing in toxic fumes when you burn candles, and you want a cleaner burn with a longer lasting fragrance, soy wax candles offer soft, natural lighting with none of the dangers associated with burning materials such as paraffin wax.
If you’re a fan of candlelight, and have been using paraffin candles to date, you may want to consider switching to soy wax candles.
They’re renewable, biodegradable, and best of all, nontoxic.