Why use soy wax in candles?

If you enjoy making candles for fun or profit, consider some of the benefits of soy wax.

For ages, natural waxes were used in candle making, such as bees wax, derived from bee hives, and tallow, a derivative of plants or animal fat. Since its discovery in the mid 1800's, paraffin has been the most commonly used wax in candle making. As candle making made its transition from a necessary chore to a hobby, paraffin remained the wax of choice: it was inexpensive, easy to obtain, easy to work with, and it produced a good quality product that burned steadily. In recent years, however, soy wax has been gaining popularity in the candle making industry, among hobbyists and candle users.

Like bees wax and tallow, soy wax is a natural wax. It is created from soy beans and blended with vegetable oils. However, most chandlers will find soy wax preferable to other natural waxes. Beeswax costs significantly more than soy wax, as the product is not as easily replenished. Tallow is much more difficult to work with, leaves a greasy residue on candles, and often does not burn as well as soy wax.

In comparison to its main competitor, paraffin, soy wax is a much more economically and environmentally friendly alternative. Soy wax comes from renewable sources, since it is grown in crops and can be easily supplied. In comparison, paraffin wax is a petroleum product, which comes from a non-renewable source: it is a fossil fuel by-product. Using soy wax not only helps to preserve the earth's precious resources, but it comes from US crops. Use of soy supports farmers, rather than creating further dependence on foreign oil companies. Further, soy wax is biodegradable, whereas paraffin is not.

Like other natural waxes, soy wax burns clean. That is to say, soy wax candles do not emit the toxins that paraffin wax candles do. Paraffin is a petroleum derivative, and has no less than 11 dangerous toxins that are released in the burning process. You may have noticed that paraffin wax candles leave behind a sooty black residue on the container when they are burned. Soy candles emit significantly less black soot when burning.

If you enjoy making your own candles, you will find that soy wax is a pleasure to work with. It melts easily, has a creamy texture, and pours smoothly into molds. It emits fewer toxins when heated than paraffin does. Soy wax is water soluble, and therefore it cleans up much more easily with simple soap and water than paraffin wax, which is non-water soluble. While it is not advisable to let wax go down your drainpipes, because of its solubility, soy wax is less likely to be harmful to your pipes than paraffin if there should be an accidental leakage.

Soy wax has a milder odor than paraffin wax, so it interferes less with candle fragrances. It incorporates fragrance additives beautifully and creates richly scented candles with a creamy, smooth appearance.

Soy wax does cost slightly more than paraffin wax, however that cost is offset by the burning time. Soy burns cool, which means that they burn for much longer than paraffin candles, which burn hot. In fact, soy candles will burn for up to 50% longer than paraffin candles.

When it comes to most candle making projects, soy wax is a superior product in many ways to other alternatives and worth a try.

© High Speed Ventures 2011