What is a Candle Made Of?
When you are considering making a candle, you might be curious as to how the wax that you’re using came to be. After all, most wax is not naturally occurring. Many candles are made with paraffin wax, while another popular wax type is soy.
Paraffin wax is derived from the refining of crude oil. The process involves removing the oil from slack wax, a byproduct of the refining of lubricating oil. The slack wax is heated, mixed with solvents, and then cooled. The wax may be further processed to remove colors and odors, and finally blended together to give the mixture certain properties such as a specific melt point. Paraffin wax is sold in either liquid or solid form.
Coconut wax, on the other hand, is made by extracting the oil from coconut meat and then hydrogenating it. This process turns the liquid oil into a solid wax, which is then purified to remove any impurities.
Coconut wax is highly sustainable, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and burns cleanly, producing little to no soot. It’s known for its slow and even burning, making it a longer-lasting option for candles. Coconut wax also has a great hot throw, which means that the fragrance of the candle is strong when burned.
Despite these advantages, there are some drawbacks to coconut wax. One of these is its cost, as it is far more expensive than both soy wax and paraffin wax. Additionally, coconut wax softens easily in warm temperatures, which can make it very difficult to work with if you live in a warmer climate.
Because of the fossil fuel origin of paraffin wax and the costs involved in coconut wax, many people, including those of us here at Wick and Pour, prefer using soy wax. Luckily, soy wax also burns cleaner and longer than most paraffin wax products, and is far more affordable than coconut wax.
Soy wax is a vegetable wax made from oil produced by soybeans. After soybeans are harvested, they are cleaned, cracked, removed from their hulls, and rolled into flakes. The oil is then extracted from the flakes. The oil is then hydrogenated, which converts some of the fatty acids in the oil, altering the melting point of the oil so that it is solid at room temperature.
One of the greatest advantages of soy wax is its renewability. With the global reserves of oil shrinking and paraffin prices increasing, the only limit to the soy supply is how much we choose to grow. A well-made soy candle will burn cleanly and slowly, which is a significant advantage for consumers.
When compared to paraffin wax, which is derived from non-renewable resources such as petroleum and coal, both coconut and soy wax stand out as more environmentally friendly alternatives. In a comparison between coconut wax and soy wax, both emerge as good choices for sustainability. However, coconut wax is considered more sustainable than soy wax because soybeans are often grown in monoculture systems, leading to soil erosion and deforestation.
Applications in Candle Making
In terms of applications in candle making, both soy wax and coconut wax have their unique strengths. Soy wax is versatile and can be used straight or blended with other natural oils or mixed with paraffin to form a parasoy wax.
Coconut wax, due to its lower melting point, is a good choice for wax melts. However, it’s not advised to use coconut wax for pillar candles as the wax is soft and creamy. This means that it is susceptible to hot environments and can deform the shape of your pillar candle.
Both soy wax and coconut wax offer unique benefits for candle making. They each have their strengths and drawbacks, and the choice between the two largely depends on the specific requirements of the candle maker and the preferences of the consumers.
Wick and Pour: The Ultimate Candle Making Experience
Wick and Pour, a unique candle-making oasis in New York City, offers a hands-on candle-making experience. Attendees are guided through the entire process, from choosing their vessel, scents, and decor to learning how to pour their own candles. Their candles are a combination of soy wax and enticing scents curated in-house with essential oils and phthalate-free fragrances, offering an environmentally friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free candle option.