You may have heard stories recently about the benefits of soy wax, or about how paraffin wax is unhealthy or not good for you. In this article, we will examine the myths and rumors, give the straight facts on both soy and paraffin wax candles and allow you to see what the truth and fuss is all about. Before we start, it is important for you to know what the actual difference is between soy and paraffin waxes, and to see how each are produced.
If you purchase a candle that isn’t marked as soy, beeswax, or any other special blend of wax, chances are that you have purchased a candle that is made from a paraffin blend of wax. Paraffin wax is a heavy hydrocarbon that comes from crude oil (fossil fuel). It is produced by refining or separating the waxes out of crude mineral oils obtained from the ground. Crude oil is transported to refineries where it is refined into finished products by complex processes including paraffin, microcrystalline and petrolatum. Paraffin waxes are derived from the light lubricating oil distillates.
Soy wax, on the other hand, is made from vegetable matter from the oil of soybeans. After harvesting, the beans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes. 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 leftover bean husks are commonly used as animal feed. The U.S. grows the vast majority of the world’s soybeans, primarily in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana.
Benefits of Soy vs. Paraffin
- Soy wax candles generally burn longer than paraffin candles.
- Soy candles are derived from natural vegetables, while paraffin is a refined gasoline by-product.
- The soy wax is 100% biodegradable while paraffin wax is not
- Spills from soy wax clean up simply with soap and water while paraffin wax spills are very time consuming and extremely difficult to completely clean up, if at all.
- Candles from soy wax releases fragrance easier and longer than paraffin candles.
- Soy wax produces less soot which in turn burns cleaner
Which would you rather have burning in your house?
There are several carcinogen compounds (cancer-causing agents) found in paraffin candles. Virtually all of them have been considered “toxic air agents” by various environmental agencies. Since soot particles are very small, they can potentially penetrate the deepest area of the lung. Researchers caution that the very young, the elderly and those with respiratory diseases like asthma should avoid exposure to candle soot. Again soy wax burns petro-carbon soot free. But there are other factors that contribute to black soot deposits in candles.
Keep in mind the only completely soot free candle flame is a natural gas flame. This flame is completely blue in nature and has what is called complete combustion.
A better alternative to burning candles in homes would be a candle warmer or oil burner. These are the safest choice and a perfect gift choice as well. They do not produce any soot in the air, hence a much better breathing environment with the same aromatic scents.