While paraffin is the most commonly used material to make candles, soy wax has recently become a popular alternative for this purpose. Soy candles are made from the wax that is created by hydrogenating soy oil. Due to their low melting point of around 120°F, most of these candles come in containers, such as glasses. However, with the inclusion of a few additives, such as stearic acid, mineral oil, luster crystals, petrolatum, etc., it is possible to create pillar candles of soy wax with a higher melting point of 180°F. Soy wax is usually available in pellet and flake forms, and appears usually in a soft white color. Apart from pure soy candles, one can also find varieties mixed with beeswax, palm wax, and paraffin. Apart from its uses in cooking and the manufacturing process of wax, soy can also be utilized to make other products such as ink, crayons, and a renewable source of biodiesel, which could make it a partial solution for global fuel shortages.
All soy candles are made from processing soybeans, which is a completely natural and renewable resource that is grown by farmers all over the world. On the other hand, older versions of paraffin candles were made from petroleum, a non-renewable energy source containing many substances that are unhealthy, and could cause diseases like cancer. These harmful chemicals spread into the air while the candle is burning. Also, purchasing soy candles encourages the agriculture industry, which is essential for humans living all around the globe. Paraffin candles might also have wicks that contain lead, which give out harmful emissions when burned. Soy candles usually use cotton or paper wicks.
Very little soot is released from soy wax candles while burning as compared to paraffin candles. Also, there are no toxic emissions produced by soy wax. Paraffin wax emits a lot of soot that coats the walls and other surfaces of the room. So, you can see that soy candles are safe as compared to their paraffin counterparts. Soy wax is biodegradable, and so it is more environment friendly. Genetically unaltered organic soy wax is unlikely to contain any form of pesticide or herbicide.
Longer Burning Capacity
According to candle manufacturers, soy candles burn 30 - 50% longer than paraffin candles of the same size. This is because, soy wax burns at a lower temperature. Although soy wax candles are a little more expensive than the paraffin ones, their ability to burn longer eventually makes up for the higher price.
Appearance and Scent
Soy wax holds dyes easily, which helps it look even more attractive. Also, you can find soy wax candles mixed with essential oils. Due to the fact that these candles burn slowly, the scents from the essential oils are released in small amounts, giving the user a more pleasant experience, unlike paraffin candles which tend to overwhelm ones senses with a strong wave of the scent.
Another alternative that one can use instead of paraffin candles are those that made from beeswax. In fact, most people consider beeswax candles to be even better than the soy wax varieties. Let us look at the major differences between soy and beeswax, and their respective advantages and disadvantages.
In this category, beeswax candles win by a big margin. Beeswax is known for helping relieve allergy and asthma symptoms. And while soy candles do not have any medicinal properties, they are better than paraffin candles. However, if you are buying candles, it is important that you look for labels like '100% Pure Beeswax' or '100% Soy' on the packaging. If such labels aren't there, it is possible that the candles have some amount of paraffin mixed in with the soy or beeswax.
Soy candles have a high chance of being mixed with artificial scents, which turn toxic on combustion. This problem may also be prevalent in low-quality beeswax candles. However, the chances of this happening are much lower. '100% Pure Beeswax' candles don't need additional scents and dyes, as they have an attractive natural color and scent.
If you are using soy wax candles that are made with completely organic soybeans, the impact on the environment is negligible. However, using genetically modified soybeans can cause harm to both, the environment as well as farmers, because GM crops require large amounts of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Beeswax is completely safe in comparison.
The biggest disadvantage that beeswax candles have is that they are very expensive in comparison to soy wax or paraffin candles. This is the main reason behind people going in for more cost-effective alternatives. So, in this case '100% Soy' candles are an effective compromise between cost and health.
After reading these facts about soy wax candles, you will realize that soy wax is usually safer than paraffin. However, with increased awareness in consumers, most paraffin candle manufacturers have increased the quality of their ingredients, which has made their products safer than before. And this fact has been corroborated by the National Candle Association and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
It is important to note that there are no specific regulations for the labeling of soy candles, and any benefits that they give will differ from one brand to another. Therefore, though opting for soy wax candles is a good start, one must also be aware of the ingredients that go into the product that they are buying.