A lot of soy candle-makers say that their products are better for the environment than conventional paraffin candles. Because paraffin comes from oil. Soy wax comes from soybeans, which are considered natural, therefore soy wax is better, right? While there are some benefits of soy candles over paraffin, like the fact that soy candles burn cleaner, there are serious issues that can’t be ignored.
Soy candles are bad for the environment because deforestation is needed to cultivate soy also pesticides and other chemicals are needed to produce soy wax. Here are the Pros and Cons of Soy candles:
- 1. Pro: Soy Candles Burn Cleaner
- 2. Pro: Soy Candles Last Longer
- 3. Pro: Soy Is a Renewable Resource
- 1. Con: Deforestation is Needed to Cultivate Soy
- 2. Con: There is Some Deception in Marketing
- 3. Con: Pesticides and other Chemicals Are Needed to Produce Soy Wax
Pro: Soy Candles Burn Cleaner
One of the nice things about soy wax candles is that they burn cleaner than a paraffin candle. Paraffin wax tends to release soot that gets on walls, but soot is the least of paraffin’s issues for some people, benzene can cause some more immediate problems including headaches and nausea. Long term exposure to these chemicals creates more problems.
Paraffin contains chemicals like benzene and toluene. According to the American Cancer Society, these chemicals are known carcinogens that are linked to cancer and other health problems. When a paraffin candle is lit, it releases a plume of these carcinogens. Since an owner is going to be standing close by, they’re going to be getting a good amount of this plume. While this isn’t a major thing on its own, we must remember that candle-owners often light multiple candles at once. Things like soot can also be a problem if you have people around the house with asthma or other breathing problems that make them sensitive to this sort of thing.
Headaches, vomiting, and cancer are not exactly the things one wants to think about when lighting candles for relaxation.
Soy candles burn cleanly and don’t give off soot and carcinogens. The air quality in your room will be much improved; and you won’t have soot on your walls.
Pro: Soy Candles Last Longer
One of the keys to environmentalism is to reduce our consumption of materials. One way to do this is to buy things that last long. Compared to paraffin candles, soy candles last longer. Soy candles, when they’re made entirely from soy wax, can last between 35 to 50 percent longer. One of the main reasons is that soy candles have a lower melting point compared to paraffin candles. The other is that the wick also burns slower, some things can impact this.
Of course, whether the candle lasts longer than a paraffin candle depends on how well you take care of it. If you don’t maintain your wick properly, the candle will burn faster. Furthermore, you need to keep your soy candle stored at a cool temperature and out of direct sunlight and fluorescent light as much as possible. While paraffin candles don’t get boo bothered by hot days, soy candles can be a bit more fragile so you need to keep them at room temperature away from things that heat (stoves, laptops, cable boxes).
By keeping your candles for as long as possible, you can cut down on waste.
Soy is a Renewable Resource
One of the problems with paraffin is that it’s made from a non-renewable resource. Oil can eventually run out. This is why people are trying to get away from oil-based products. While you may not be able to get an electric car or solar panels on your roof, you can do something small to help the environment, and those small steps matter.
However, you have to know how to shop for soy candles if you want them to be environmentally friendly. There are a lot of problems in the soy candle industry that can undercut your environmental progress.
Con: Deforestation is Needed to Cultivate Soy
While soy is technically natural, natural doesn’t always mean good or environmentally friendly. While many soybeans are produced in America by farmers using sustainable practices, there are a lot of soy candles that use soybeans imported from South America; This can present a lot of environmental and humanitarian issues.
The Amazon Rainforest is the biggest in the world. It helps filter out carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and produces oxygen that we need to breathe. It also has animal and plant species that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. Some of these plants can even provide the means to develop new medicine.
However, the Amazon is constantly under threat due to bad farming practices. To clear the way for farmland needed for soy and other crops, industrial farmers need to cut down trees to plant crops. This kills the local plants and animals. To make matters worse, throughout the Amazon, there are uncontacted tribes that live in and depend on the rainforest that have been harmed by deforestation. Sometimes, unscrupulous industrial farmers have used violence to drive these uncontacted tribes away from the land they intend to clear.
And all of this is for short-term gain. Many of the crops grown in the Amazon by industrial farmers aren’t cut out for the tropical soil, and it’s quickly depleted, necessitating more deforestation. Removing the local trees and plants also makes the area more vulnerable to mudslides.
This isn’t to say that all soy candles lead to deforestation. You just have to shop carefully and look for candles that are 100% Made in America. Since America is one of the most commonly grown crops in America, it won’t be too hard to find at least one candle company that doesn’t require cutting down the Amazon.
Con: There is Some Deception in Marketing
Unfortunately, candle companies in America aren’t always the most honest of marketers. Marketing standards for products in America are a lot looser than in most Western countries. And even if someone did break those loose standards, it’s not easy to get the proper authorities to do anything about it since false advertising is considered a civil problem rather than a criminal one. Theoretically, if you want to legally market your candle as a soy candle, it only needs to be 51% soy wax. The other 49% could be the paraffin wax you’re trying to get away from. Many companies use paraffin as an additive to make the candles more durable in higher temperatures and make the candle more cheaply. This means that you could buy a soy candle thinking you’re using fewer fossil fuels, only to be using fossil fuels instead.
There are ways to tell if you’re getting a 100% soy candle. For starters, look at the price tag. If a given soy candle is much cheaper than other soy candles on the market, there’s a good chance that the cheaper candle is made with a lot of paraffin. Secondly, look at the candle itself. Look at the tops and sides (if visible) of your candle. If there’s a white-Ish or crystalline color coating, otherwise known as frosting or blooming, you have a soy candle.
One of the ways to make sure you get a 100% soy candle is to shop from a small retailer. Visit your local craft fair or gift shop. They will sell the real thing. Etsy is also an option, but since you have to have it shipped to you, it’s not eco-friendly compared to shopping locally. But you’ll have to confirm the soy used is grown in America.
Con: Pesticides and other Chemicals Are Needed to Produce Soy Wax
One of the other major environmental problems with soy candles is the number of pesticides needed for growing soy. Industrial pesticides not only kill bugs that eat soy beans but can kill good bugs like pollinators. When pesticides and herbicides get washed off in the rain, they end up in local water supplies and cause problems for wildlife and humans.
When it comes to producing soy wax, companies need to use multiple chemicals, not all of which are natural, to turn the remnants of soybeans into soy wax. Some of these chemicals, as well as the pesticides and herbicides, can end up in the candles themselves.
Does all of this mean that soy candles are bad?
No. Like everything else, it requires careful shopping. If you just go to Wal-Mart to get the first thing with soy candle written on it, chances are you aren’t getting the best product. Always read the label closely and don’t get taken in by marketing buzzwords.
Some sites say that soy candles are bad because they contain GMOs. Are they?
At this time, there is no scientific evidence that says that GMOs are inherently bad for the environment.
What are alternatives to soy and paraffin candles?
Your best bet is beeswax candles. These burn cleaner, don’t require many questionable chemicals, and they don’t require deforestation. Plus, by buying beeswax candles, you’re keeping beekeepers in operation. Unfortunately, beeswax candles are more expensive and sometimes the scent of honey can mingle with the scent the candle is trying to produce. If you can’t afford beeswax candles, your best bet is 100% soy candles, with soy grown in America.
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Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.