What is the difference between Soy and Paraffin wax?
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. Let’s start with paraffin wax, the most common wax to create candles with today. 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 was discovered in the 1850’s and is a derivative of petroleum (crude oil). It is made by removing the waxy substance from crude oil during the refining process. Paraffin wax is odorless, tasteless and white in color. Most candles are composed of paraffin as it is inexpensive and gives a steady burn. Paraffin is also found in drywall, waxed paper, glide wax (for snowboards and skis), crayons and cosmetics. Paraffin is also edible. Food-grade paraffin is used to coat candy, preserve food, and seal canning jars.
Soy wax is a form of soybean oil that was discovered in 1991. The wax-making process involves harvesting the soybeans and rolling them into flakes. The oil is withdrawn from the flakes where it is then hydrogenated (mixed with hydrogen gas). This process allows the oil to be solid at room temperature. Soy wax is white in color and comes in pellet and flake forms. This wax is mainly used in container candles as it has a lower melting temperature than other waxes such as paraffin and beeswax. However, soy candles can be made from a mixture of soy, paraffin, and beeswax to avoid this problem.
There are many myths associated with paraffin vs. soy candles. Soy candle manufacturers created many of these myths in an attempt to sell more candles. Unfortunately, many people have bought into these lies which have little to no truth to them. These claims include:
–Paraffin wax is hazardous to your health.
–Soy wax is made with all natural ingredients causing it to be safer than paraffin.
–Soy wax produces no soot.
–Paraffin is not biodegradable.
–Soy wax burns cleaner.
All candle waxes are non-toxic. Food-grade paraffin is approved by the FDA and is used in food and cosmetics. Many manufacturers use food-grade paraffin to make their candles.
Crude oil (used to make paraffin) is a naturally occurring substance that is found underneath the Earth’s surface. Both soy wax and paraffin wax are derived from natural substances. These natural substances go through a refining process that is not natural to make the wax product. Soy wax is not any more natural than paraffin wax.
Many soy candles are not 100 percent natural. Since soy wax is softer than other waxes, chemical hardeners are added to make the wax more durable. In addition, many of the dyes and fragrances used in soy candles are not 100 percent natural. Even if a soy candle contains only 100 percent natural ingredients, it does not mean it is safer or healthier. Many naturally occurring plants and substances have been proven toxic to humans and animals, even in small amounts.
All burning organic materials emit soot. Soot free candles do not exist. Paraffin candles will emit a black colored soot when burned. Soy candles usually emit white colored soot that cannot be seen. The amount of soot emitted by a burning candle will mainly depend on the length of the wick and flame disturbance.
Paraffin, beeswax, and vegetable waxes are all biodegradable.
All types of waxes are primarily composed of hydrocarbons causing them to burn similarly. Soy wax and paraffin wax are both hydrocarbons. They both burn safely and cleanly.
There is no better wax out there in regards to health hazards. Paraffin wax candles and soy wax candles are equally safe to burn and enjoy. On the other hand, soy wax is considered more environmentally friendly than paraffin wax. This is because soy wax is made from soybeans (a renewable resource), whereas paraffin wax is made from crude oil (a nonrenewable resource).
National Candle Association