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Soy Wax

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soy wax flakes

Melting Soy Wax Flakes

David Fisher

The Great Candle Wax Debate:

If you want to start a fight...(ahem)...I mean...a lively conversation amongst a group of candle makers, ask one of them "Which is better? Soy wax or paraffin wax?" Chandlers that prefer soy wax will say:
  • It's natural - made from soybeans rather than a petroleum by-product
  • It's cheaper - and then they say there are tests that show that soy candles burn longer than paraffin candles (we'll talk more about this one later)
  • Soy candle produce less soot (we'll talk about this one later too)
  • Soy wax is easier to clean up - it allegedly can be cleaned up with soap and water (though in my experience not very easily)

The Basics of Soy Wax:

The United States grows more soybeans than any other country. It takes about 60 pounds of beans to make 11 pounds of oil.

In the early 1990s, a man named Michael Richards saw that people, in general, were looking for more natural products - including candles - and set out to develop a cheaper natural alternative to expensive beeswax. He tried many blends of oils, beeswax and vegetable waxes. In the late 1990s, Richards settled on a wax blend that was made mostly with hydrogenated soybean oil. In 2001, Cargill bought the patent for Richard's soy wax process.

What Kind of Candles Does it Make?:

Most soy candle makers that I know stick to container candles in jars, cups or glasses.
  • A couple of companies feature a soy wax blend for votives or pillar candle - these blends are much harder than the container blend and (in my experience) can be a bit brittle.
  • Now that some of the "rage" over soy wax has subsided, a number of companies are selling soy-paraffin blends that because they have 51% soy in them can be called "soy candles"
  • How It's Generally Packaged or Sold:

    One great thing about soy wax is that it comes in flakes. It's super easy to scoop and measure and melt!

    Suppliers of Paraffin Wax:

    Here are some suppliers of candle wax that sell different blends of soy wax for candle making:

    The Debate Over Soy Wax vs. Paraffin Wax for Candle Making:

    Like I said above, if you want to hear some strong opinions expressed, just ask a group of candlemakers which wax is better, soy or paraffin. (See comments and discussion below.) I (personally) like both waxes, and think they both have their benefits. I like the "natural" qualities of soy wax...and don't believe the accusations that paraffin is an evil toxic substance. As you'll see from the National Candle Association facts below, the most important thing is that you use a high-quality wax, in a well-made candle.

    Candle Wax Facts from the National Candle Association:

    From the National Candle Assoc.:
    • All waxes are primarily hydrocarbons, whether of animal, vegetable, or petroleum origin. The chemical composition of all candlemaking waxes is similar, and all candle waxes burn in the same manner.
    • No specific type of wax or wax blend is considered "best" for candlemaking. All waxes - when provided in high-quality format - have been shown to burn cleanly, safely and in the same manner.
    • No candle wax has ever been shown to be toxic or harmful to human health.
    • There is no such thing as a soot-free wax.
    Related Video
    How to Remove Candle Wax

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