I was surprised to read in Brand Week Magazine recently that most American consumers are still not familiar with natural soy wax candles, or that the majority of candles made and sold today are produced from paraffin wax, a by-product of the industrialized oil refining process.
So what is the difference between soy wax used for soy candles and paraffin wax used for paraffin candles?
Soy wax is produced from harvested soybeans from green living soybean plants. Soybeans have been enjoyed as a vegetarian high protein food source world wide for thousands of years, but the oil from soybeans have only recently been used to make soy candles and other non food soy products. Harvested soybeans are crushed and pressed to separate the soy oil from the soy meal. The soy oil goes through a process called partially hydrogenation to turn it into a soft wax. This is the reason why you probably see so many soy wax container candles. To make free standing soy candles, other harder natural waxes like palm and beeswax, or paraffin has to be added to the soy wax.
The benefits of soybean wax is that it is non-toxic, bio-degradable, an environmentally friendly unlimited renewable resource, and supports farmers. (At Double Brush we use soy wax made from American farm grown soybeans. Our soy wax is also organic, vegan, and kosher.)
Paraffin wax is a byproduct of the industrialized petroleum crude oil refining process. Other petroleum products include diesel fuel, gasoline, asphalt, and kerosene. All of these oil products may be manufactured from foreign oil and contribute to our dependency on crude oil, which as everyone knows is a limited resource.
Now that we know about the difference between soy wax and paraffin wax, what about the differences in the waxes used for candles?
A soy wax candle is a true "green candle" that burns at a lower temperature than a paraffin candle and therefore with a candle of the same size, the soy candle will burn slower and last longer. An important benefit of soy candles are that they are non toxic and less likely to cause an allergic reaction as the soy candles are cleaner burning and don't release any carcinogens (cancer causing agents) like petroleum based candles do. Also with soy wax candles there is none to little black petro-carbon soot which can blackening of walls, ceilings, furniture, and contaminate ventilation ductwork in your home which happens all the time when burning paraffin wax candles.
If you burn paraffin candles, you might as well be inhaling diesel fumes. “The fine particulate matter collected from candle emissions was similar to that of diesel engine exhaust in particle size, morphology, elemental carbon content, and absorbed chemical constituents” says David Krause. Krause is an air quality engineer and former employee of the Florida Department of Health. He also adds, “These similarities point to a similar potential for adverse health effects.”
These chemicals are also normally found in paraffin candles:
Acrolein, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde exceeding EPA safety thresholds, dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, didecyl phthalate, toluene, styrene, benzene, styrene, toluene, ethyl benzene, naphthalene, benzaldehyde, benzene,ethanol, and 2-butanone (methyl ethyl ketone) and acetone.
With the craze for gel candles you can add in mineral oil, terpene-type chemicals, modified hydrocarbons & viscosity increasing chemicals.
If you are considering buying soy candles, make sure that you read the label and it says 100% natural wax or else you may end up with a blended wax candle of 75% paraffin and only 25% soy wax! (Our soy candles are 100% natural wax.)
The wick should be made of natural fiber with no metal core. Lead core wicks have been banned in candles manufactured in the United States, but imported candles from other countries may still be using lead core wicks. (We use hemp fiber wicks with no metal core.)
Most fragrance oils that are used for candle making is made from a mineral oil base with solvents and other chemicals like dipropylene glycol in them. (Our soy candles are made with high quality custom blended fragrance oils in a soy oil base with little or no additives in them.)
Our soy candles do not contain added chemical additives such as UV light reflectors and chemical wax stabilizers that are common in paraffin candles!
And the winner for the best candle goes to a soy wax candle, or other all natural wax candle.
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