Choosing Soy Wax Candles As a Healthy and Frugal Alternative to Paraffin Based Candles
Today's consumers have access to so much more information and are much more educated on their purchases. However, clever marketing still trumps consumer knowledge in some cases.
Let me explain how soy wax is made, what the benefits are and what to look for when buying soy candles.
Some Facts about Soy Wax:
What is Soy Wax?
You might be surprised to learn that soy wax, isn't wax at all. It's actually a form of partially-hydrogenated soy bean oil. Hydrogen is added to the soy bean oil and a chemical reaction takes place to turn it into a solid. Hydrogen is the most common chemical element on earth and is part of H2O (water).
Because soy wax comes from soy bean oil, it's considered all natural and is biodegradable. Soybeans are grown around the world and are considered a sustainable and renewable resource.
OK, so soy wax is all natural to start - but there are some common additives. Some of them natural and some of them not. The most common additives in soy wax are dye, fragrance and chemicals to make a better performing wax.
Most commercial dyes are not natural. Although there are some natural dyes most are not being used in candle making. Soaps and natural beauty products are more likely to contain natural dyes.
Fragrance is not natural. Although there are many skin safe fragrance oils on the market, they are made synthetically and absolutely not natural.
All natural additives include botanical oils and essential oils.
Botanical oils are often used instead of chemical additives to make a better quality wax from a visual standpoint. 100% soy wax candles will crack and flake on the tops, this is corrected by adding botanicals or in some cases manufacturers heat gun the top of each candle after it has been poured and cooled.
Essential oils are added in place of fragrance. These oils come from very leafy plants, trees, grasses and seeds. They are most often blended together and are often diluted with a carrier oil. Most producers will use a natural carrier oil to ensure the products made with their oils are still considered all natural. Some of the most common carrier oils are olive, hemp, and soybean oil. Essential oil candles can be more expensive than fragrance candles due to the high cost of the essential oils.
Other Types of Waxes
Beeswax candles are all natural, unless they have been dyed or had scent added. They are most commonly sold as pure beeswax. The color of beeswax varies depending on how much it's been refined and can range from yellow to white. Some batches may even have a blue color if the wax has come from bees that have fed on a lavender field.
Paraffin is by far the most commonly used wax in candle making, it's the cheapest and easiest to work with. Paraffin wax is petroleum based and is a byproduct of the petroleum refining process.
It's important to note that all candle waxes contain hydro-carbons and produce a yellow flame when they burn.
No matter the type of candle there are some basic steps to take in order to ensure your safety. Never leave a candle un-attended. Always place the candle on a non-combustible surface, away from curtains, children or animals. Make sure you trim your wick to about a ¼" to ensure the flame isn't too large. In addition to unnecessary heat an untrimmed wick will smoke. Releasing soot and toxins into the air.