The Never-Ending Debate on Soy Wax vs Paraffin Wax

March 04, 2020

Which is better? Are traditional candles really toxic and bad for you?

There has been an on-going debate in the candle making world since the beginning of time. Well, since the creation of soy wax anyway. And I hate to break it to you, but we are NOT going to solve that debate here. There are countless articles online regarding the toxicity of paraffin wax candles. Many say they are toxic to breathe and are the probable cause of the Coronavirus (totally kidding about the last part!). Other articles claim paraffin wax is perfectly safe. What I can tell you is that I have a science degree, have worked in research for years, and even I’m not entirely sure if paraffin candles are toxic or not. However, I will also tell you some irrefutable facts about soy wax and paraffin wax so you can make your own decision about which type of candle wax you want to burn.

Paraffin Wax

Traditional candles are made with paraffin wax. Paraffin waxes are petroleum based and are created using crude oil (also known as fossil fuel) which is extracted from the earth. Once extracted, crude oil is sent to refineries where it is then turned into finished products like lubricating oil. It is from the lube oil refining process that paraffin waxes are created. This is not an eco-friendly process. Neither is it renewable, sustainable, bio-degradable, or carbon neutral. On the bright side, paraffin wax is very inexpensive, which is why you can buy candles so cheaply at a discount store.

A major concern regarding paraffin candles is that they create a significant amount of black soot that collects on the jar and is released into the air around you. No doubt, you’ve seen candles that look like the one below. You might even think that all candles are supposed to look that way when burning, but I can assure you, they don't and shouldn't. 

Soy Wax

Soy wax is a vegetable wax made from the oil of soybeans. The oil is then extracted from the flakes and hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process converts some of the fatty acids in the oil from unsaturated to saturated. This process dramatically alters the melting point of the oil, making it a solid at room temperature. The U.S. grows the vast majority of the world's soybeans, primarily in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana.

Soy's greatest advantages are that it is eco-friendly, completely renewable, American grown, sustainable, bio-degradable, and carbon neutral. While the global reserves of oil shrink and paraffin prices increase, the only limit to the soy supply is how much we choose to grow.

Soy wax melts at a lower temperature than paraffin and thus takes longer to burn up. This means that a soy wax candle typically lasts 30-50% longer than a paraffin candle of the same size. So although you may pay more money for a soy candle, it will last longer than a traditional candle. Another attribute of soy candles is their ability to burn clean. You’ll notice when you burn a soy candle there is little to no soot left on the candle jar. This is one of Black Sheep Potion’s soy wax candles.

Hopefully, we have given you some food for thought (without geeking out too much on the science stuff) that will help you make your personal choice of which type of candles to burn.


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