Saturday, August 13, 2011

Soy vs. Paraffin Wax ~ Facts and Myths

You may have heard stories about the benefits of soy wax or about how paraffin wax is unhealthy or not good for you. Actually, I have been wanting to touch upon this subject for a few months now, but it was a customer of mine who inspired me to write about the topic sooner than later. In this story, we will examine the myths and rumors and give you the straight facts on both soy and paraffin wax candles and allow you to see what the truth and the fuss is all about.

  • Paraffin wax was discovered in 1850 and is a derivative of crude oil. It is made by removing the waxy substance from oil during the refining process. Paraffin wax is odorless, tasteless and white in color. Most candles are composed of paraffin because of its a steady burn. Paraffin is also found in a number of products, from drywall, waxed paper, glide wax (for snowboards and skis), crayons and cosmetics. Some Paraffin waxes are 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. Soy wax, on the other hand is made from vegetable matter. The wax-making process involves harvesting the soybeans and or vegetable matter, 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 The oil is withdrawn from the flakes where it is then hydrogenated (mixed with hydrogen gas).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. Soys application is best used in container candles. It is extremely difficult to make good pillar candles and votives out of 100% pure soy wax. Since soys consistency is much softer, the use of soy wax in pillars can only be obtained by the use of additives to harden the wax. Additives include animal and poly~based (plastic) hardeners that are best used for pillar applications. Paraffin wax is still a much better solution for pillar candle applications.
  • 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.
The Facts
  • 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. It is a decomposition of lost civilizations, plants and animals. Both soy wax and paraffin wax are derived from natural substances. These natural substances go through a refining process to create the wax product. Paraffins association to petroleum is false, as it is simply a derivative of crude oil which is a natural resource. Petroleum is also a derivative of crude oil, but paraffin and petroleum are two separate compositions. 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 can emit black soot and a 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. The myth regarding a candle producing soot will depend upon the length of the wick and the flame disturbance. The longer the wick, the more soot will be emitted. Trimming candle wicks to the recommended length can eliminate this problem.
  • 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. In the end, both paraffin wax and soy wax are both good choices for candle wax. Neither is more "environmentally friendly" than the other, as there has never been scientific evidence that paraffin wax is harmful to your health in any way at all. It is a personal choice of which type you prefer to use. In my personal experience in candle making, I prefer paraffin wax as opposed to soy wax. I believe that soy wax burns faster or perhaps at the same rate as paraffin wax does, and it also burns hotter I have found, contrary to the soy wax industry claims. Which is why when burning soy candles, you can't burn them for long periods of time. Glass containers become hot and can shatter and crack. Paraffin wax, on the other hand, can burn for several hours at a time and are good for container and pillar applications.  Always remember to keep wicks trimmed to keep the flame burning evenly.
Purple Sun Candles and White Magick Alchemy

Purple Sun Candle Company's philosophy from its inception in 1992 was to create natural candles free from harmful impurities, additives, animal products, and poly-based products widely used within the candle industry today, and we've done just that. Known as a "eco green" company since 1996, before green was cool, we make our candles all by hand in the old Pagan tradition. And all of our wax is recycled and reused so we never put anything back into the environment. We also use eco friendly power like solar to cut back on our earths precious resources.

Using only the finest aromatic pure essential, essence and botanical oils derived from all-natural, wild grown plant extracts throughout the regions of the world, we take pride in knowing that our candles burn purely without the intrusion of any unnecessary chemical additives.

Gems of Nature are the quintessential life force of aromatic plants, some times called the "soul" of the plant. Our fragrances are made exclusively for our Purple Sun and White Magick Alchemy candles by some of the most famous essentail oil and fragrance developers throughout the United States and Europe.

Poured and finished by hand in small batches, each candle is quality inspected to insure that each candle meets with our high standards for excellence, Purple Sun Brand and White Magick Alchemy candles are made using our own exclusive fragrances, all natural food-grade waxes from the Caspian Sea and other regions, and are hand wicked with only pure cotton and hemp wicks. A heavy fragrance load insures a aromatic and long lasting scent throw. All essential elements of an exceptional burning candle.

Since 1996, we have been creating and selling our eco-friendly and additive free Purple Sun "Earthly Essentials" line of candles to retailers throughout the US and beyond. Some of our retailers include Whole Foods Markets nationwide, Pier One Imports, Olivers Markets and Molly Stones. We also sell to retail shops and work with wineries and other companies creating private label candles that are exclusive to those retailers. 

Its been an honor to work with some of the most popular retailers for all of these years. There has been a lot of learning and a lot of changes over the years too. Rest assured, when you purchase Purple Sun and White Magick Alchemy candles, you are purchasing candles that are completely safe to burn (always follow the detailed burning instructions found on the bottom of all of our candles) and are made by experienced chandlers who have been working in the candle industry for many years.  In my personal experience in candle making, as a chandler, I take pride in what we do, in what we offer to our wonderful customers. Our attention to detail and high standards for excellence are of the utmost importance to us, to insure that each candle burns safely and evenly, creating magical illumination for all to enjoy.

We hope you enjoy our candles as much as we do!

Information on Soy vs. Paraffin Wax
Reference: National Candle Assocation 


  1. I fully agree making pure soy pillar candles poses many challenges as compared to Paraffin wax candles.
    Making layered candles with Soy is all the more difficult.

  2. Good writing, its good to see some honesty finally. It is a shame people blatantly lie about paraffin in order to sell their supposedly natural soy candles. I wish there was as much support out there to tell the truth to oppose many of these people lying to customers to make a dollar.

  3. what do you think then of Beeswax does nobody buy it cause it is twice the price of a paraffin to soy candle. thanks for your input.

  4. nice article.thanks for sharing it.

  5. I really appreciate your all the information specially about the soy wax melts just keep it up.
    soy wax melts