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Wax Types: Soy versus Paraffin versus Beeswax

Candles can be made from a variety of different types of waxes. The most common types of wax used in candle making are soy wax, paraffin wax, beeswax, palm wax, and coconut wax. Some of these candle waxes come from natural sources, while others are synthetically derived. Each wax type has its own characteristics. Each wax type serves a specific purpose in candle-making: burn time, price-point, scent throw, etc.

What is Soy Wax?

Soy wax, derived from soybeans, is considered an eco-friendly wax. It is made through a process that extracts the oil from soybeans and hydrogenates it, which alters the oil’s melting point, making it solid at room temperature. Many soybeans are grown in the U.S., specifically in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana. The most significant advantage of using soy wax is that it comes from a renewable resource, so many candle makers will choose it because it is eco-friendly, sustainable, and carbon neutral. It does not produce any toxins or pollutants which harm the environment when it is burned. Soy wax is also a good choice in candle-making because it offers slower burn times and produces little to no soot compared to other wax types. However, soy wax is often challenging to work with as it tends not to hold as much scent as some other waxes and is sensitive to temperature changes.

What is Paraffin Wax?

Paraffin wax is the most common wax used in candle-making and is very versatile in application. This wax is a by-product of producing gasoline. Crude oil undergoes a dewaxing process which results in paraffin wax. The paraffin wax is processed further for use in commercial items such as candles, polishes, and cosmetics. Paraffin wax tends to be inexpensive and is used by different candle brands because it holds a high amount of fragrance and color. Candlemakers use paraffin wax for making different types of candles (containers, pillars, votives, etc.). This type of wax tends to be easier to work with as it yields consistent results. However, paraffin wax is not considered eco-friendly. In addition, this wax type also tends to produce soot when used in candles, which is regarded as detrimental to human health if inhaled.

What is Beeswax?

One of the oldest types of waxes used in candle making is beeswax. This type of wax is natural and produced by glands located in bees. Bees use beeswax to build the honeycomb shape that makes up the inside of beehives. Beeswax is harvested while raw honey is harvested. Candlemakers use this type of wax as it burns longer than other waxes and is said to have air-purifying qualities. It also is considered environmentally friendly and non-toxic. However, beeswax tends to be expensive because, for about every 100 pounds of honey harvested, only 1 to 2 pounds of beeswax is obtained.
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