Gone are the days that all candles are made from paraffin wax. There are many types of natural waxes that are plant-based to use in your candle creations. Or you can select from waxes that have been used for eons.
Soy wax and beeswax both produce beautiful candles. Each creates candles that differ in their purity, fragrance, coloring, and price. Both soy wax and beeswax can be considered as environmentally friendly choices to use in candle making.
Thinking through what is most important to you in candle making and use will help with your decision of which wax or wax blend to use. Let’s look at soy wax and beeswax to understand more about each of them.
What is Soy Wax?
Soy wax is a relatively new choice for candle makers to consider. Developed in the 1990s, you will frequently see two explanations of its origins. One attributes the initial experiments to create soy wax to Michael Richards, who was seeking an alternative to the more costly beeswax. He was also looking for a wax that was more natural than paraffin wax.
Other sources cite groups of college students at Purdue University who were challenged with creating more ecologically friendly birthday candles. In their 1996 research, they produced candles made from soy wax.
Either way, soy wax is from soybean oil, which is produced from soybean plants. Soybeans are harvested from the plants. Beans are processed into flakes from which the oil is separated. In a process called hydrogenation, hydrogen is added to the oil. This converts the soy oil into the solid form of soy wax by stabilizing the oil.
Pure soy wax is one hundred percent vegetable or plant-based product, which makes it vegan friendly. However, the wax produced from hydrogenation has a low melting point. Therefore, pure soy wax works best in container candles.
Currently, there are no regulations that manufacturers of soy wax must share its composition. Because of its lower melting point, many producers of soy wax do mix in additives such as paraffin wax. Adding paraffin wax to the soy wax increases the melting point of the soy wax; this makes it usable in more shapes and designs of candles.
What is Beeswax?
Beeswax has been used for various purposes for thousands of years. There is some evidence that ancient people gathered honey and wax from bees more than 8,000 years ago. Beeswax has been found in mummies from ancient Egyptians. It was also used as a cast or form to make jewelry thousands of years ago. Around the Middle Ages there is evidence of the use of beeswax candles.
Beeswax that has been found by archaeologists has a similar chemical composition to today’s beeswax. This wax is a naturally occurring by-product in the production of honey. Worker bees or female honey bees, in wild or manufactured hives, excrete a substance from their glands. This is referred to as beeswax scale. The worker bees transform the scale into a waxy substance that is used to form honeycombs. Honeycombs are made to store honey for the hive and for the eggs to perpetuate the hive.
A natural, toxin free wax, beeswax can be harvested without damaging the hive or injuring the bees. However, the production of honey and beeswax that a hive can generate is limited. Therefore, pure beeswax is more costly than other waxes. Nor is beeswax considered a vegan-friendly option since animals are used in its formation.
Many shapes and sizes of candles can be created from beeswax due to its composition. Beeswax candles are safer because they are dripless. They also do not release any toxins, which makes beeswax candles a preferred candle of asthmatics.
There are several characteristics of candles to consider when deciding which wax or wax blend to use. The purity of the wax blend is one element to use in your decision-making. The aroma or fragrance of the wax or the ability to add scent to your wax can be important. The Color of candles is another factor to think about, as is the cost of the wax.
When deciding whether to create candles from beeswax or soy wax, explore the paraffin content in the wax. Many waxes contain at least a small percentage of paraffin. While the label might state that you are purchasing pure soy wax or beeswax, it may not be pure wax. To label a wax as pure in the United States, the wax needs to contain only fifty-one percent of the key ingredient. Therefore, a wax or already made candle marked as pure soy or beeswax might only be fifty-one percent soy or beeswax.
If purity is an important element for you, search for labels that state they are one hundred percent beeswax or soy wax. You can be almost certain that the beeswax will be all beeswax. However, the soy might still contain a small percentage of paraffin to increase its burn temperature.
Scent and Fragrance
Many people choose their candles and wax for the fragrance they will add to their homes. When selecting between beeswax and soy wax, you have two great options. Beeswax, without adding any oils or other scents to it, has its own natural scent. When you light a beeswax candle, it will emit a gentle smell of honey. Depending on the flowers from which the bees gathered their nectar, different scents will be mixed in the fragrance from the pollen.
On the other hand, soy wax offers many scenting options. Scented soy wax will throw wonderful scents. Because soy wax does not have any scent of its own, it is truly a blank slate for you to add any fragrance. You can choose to do seasonal fragrances. Or using the benefits of aromatherapy, you can create a repertoire of soothing scents.
Color of Waxes and Flames
Beeswax will vary in its hues of color, but it will mirror the range of the shades of honey. The plants in the beehives will impact the color of the beeswax. However, soy wax, without coloring, is a cloudy-whitish color. This lends well to adding any types of die to enhance its beauty. To add hints of color or to completely alter its shading, you can use dye flakes, chips, or liquid. Experiment with a small amount of wax before making your candles.
The light spectrum or flame that shines from the candle is another element to think about between the two waxes. Since beeswax is usually purer, it will radiate natural light. Flames from beeswax candles will be warm and welcoming like the range of the sun. Soy candle flames will be a cooler flame more like an incandescent light bulb.
Pricing of Wax and Candles
Because of how it is produced, beeswax is more expensive per pound than soy wax. Soy wax is more plentiful, which lowers its cost. Over time and use, beeswax and soy wax do come closer in total cost. Beeswax produces a cleaner burn. It is also a denser wax than soy wax, so it burns for more hours.
Both beeswax and soy wax are considered better for the environment than some other waxes such as paraffin. Beeswax, as an organic result of honey production, is needed for the environment. Bees, as one of the most significant pollinators, are an essential component of maintaining plant life on Earth. Before purchasing beeswax, it is important to know that the bees and hives are being ethically nurtured.
Soybeans and the resultant soy wax can be an environmentally friendly option. However, mass produced soy is often genetically modified. You can purchase non-GMO soy wax to offset this potential environmental concern. Additionally, most large soy farming uses pesticides, water, and land. Many acres of land have been logged to open space for soy fields. Deforestation is a global matter.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is candelilla wax?
Candelilla wax is processed from the candelilla shrub. The candelilla shrub is indigenous to the southwestern area of the United States and the northern region of Mexico. This wax offers another option for vegans seeking a plant-based alternative for candle making. Candelilla wax has a higher melting point than beeswax.
What is carnauba wax?
Carnauba wax, another name for palm wax, is a natural plant-based possibility available for candle making. This natural wax is one of the hardest waxes available for candles. Since it is so hard with a high melting point, it should be mixed with other waxes to make candles.
What is rice-bran wax?
Rice-bran wax is produced from rice bran, which is the outside coating on grains of rice. With a high melting point, it has similar properties to carnauba wax. Since it is such a hard wax, rice bran wax candles burn clearly and reliably.
What is rapeseed wax?
Rapeseed wax is extracted from rapeseed plants. These plants are well-known as a key ingredient in the production of vegetable oil. Candles made from rapeseed wax burn gradually. They retain their fragrance, and their scent fills the room well.
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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.