Michael Richards invented soy wax in 1991 while trying to find a cheaper alternative to beeswax. Since then, the demand for soy wax and other all-natural waxes has exploded. Now coconut wax is postured to become even more popular than soy wax. What is coconut wax, and is it truly better than soy?
Coconut wax is a natural wax that is popular in candle making. It is known for its sustainability and good scent throw. Here are some areas to evaluate the match-up between soy and coconut wax to see which is better for your candles:
- Scent Throw
Is Coconut Wax Really Better than Soy?
This is debatable. Both soy wax and coconut wax have their proponents. But even the fiercest of soy wax defenders must admit that coconut wax can be a good alternative to use in your candles. Let’s look at how coconut wax compares with soy in some important candle making areas.
Scent throw refers to a candle’s ability to carry the aroma of fragrant oils throughout a room. A candle with higher scent throw means it will smell stronger than a candle with a weaker scent throw. A candle’s scent throw is determined by the fragrant oils used in the wax and by the wax itself. Certain waxes throw scent better than others.
While usually scent throw refers to how much fragrance a candle releases when it is burning, technically candles have cold throw and hot throw. Cold throw refers to the ambient smell of a candle when it isn’t burning. Hot throw is the smell when it is burning.
Soy Wax Scent Throw
Since it was invented and first used in scented candles, soy wax has garnered a mixed reaction when it comes to scent throw. Some people cannot get a good scent throw from soy. I frequently use soy wax in my scented candles, and I never have a problem getting a good scent throw.
But then again, I recognize that soy wax is on the softer side, especially when compared to harder waxes like paraffin. For that reason, it also has a lower melting point, which is why I add fragrant oil to soy wax when the wax is a relatively low temperature of 130-150 degrees Fahrenheit (55-65 degrees Celsius).
The other reason I get good scent throw from my soy candles is that I let them cure before using for the proper amount of time. When it comes to soy wax, that’s a full two weeks.
Coconut Wax Scent Throw
Coconut wax has a 12% fragrance load, meaning that this wax can hold a lot more fragrance by weight than soy wax, which has a fragrance load of only around 7%. Also, candles made from coconut wax have a quicker curing time of about seven days, or half that of a soy candle.
With coconut wax, you can make stronger smelling candles in half the time. Coconut wax outshines soy wax when it comes to scent throw.
With a sturdier wax, you have more options for the types of candles you can make. Notably, you can use sturdier candle waxes to make pillar candles, which are candles without an outer container. Stiffer, sturdier waxes are also good to use in candles you make from molds, such as bubble candles and figure candles.
Is Soy Wax Sturdy?
While soy wax is on the softer side, it is still stiff enough to be used in free-standing candles, such as pillar and molded candles. But you must make sure that you buy soy wax that is formulated for pillar candles and not specifically designated for container candles. You will find container candle soy wax too soft to be used in molded candles.
Here is an example of a soy blend from Candle Science specifically formulated for use in pillar candles. You can use this wax to make votives, clamshells, and other free-standing candles.
Is Coconut Wax Sturdy?
While soy wax is relatively soft and has a low melting point, coconut wax is even softer and has an even lower melting point. In fact, with a melting point of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), pure coconut wax is so soft, it might liquefy on the shelf, so you need to be careful about storage temperatures.
This means that coconut wax, for all is superiority in terms of scent throw, is always the wrong type of wax to use in anything other than container candles.
For its versatility to be used in both pillar and container candles, soy wax wins the day over coconut wax when it comes to wax sturdiness.
As the planet becomes more crowded and resources constrained, sustainability is more than a buzzword these days. Sustainability refers to the ability to continually use a resource without depleting our ability to produce it.
As natural waxes, both soy and coconut wax are reportedly “sustainable” candle waxes. But which one of these is more so?
Soy Wax Sustainability
When it first burst onto the scene in 1991, people lauded soy wax for its sustainability. Especially compared to candles traditionally made from paraffin, a petroleum derivative, it seemed that a key advantage of soy wax was its sustainability.
Recently, people have expressed differing opinions about this. The sustainability of soy wax still has its proponents, but more and more critics complain that much of the soy used in soy wax and other products is derived from GMOs, which many claim are unsustainable because they are linked to negative impacts on the environment.
A second issue with the so-called sustainability of soy wax is that massive soybean fields are one of the primary causes of deforestation throughout the world. So, while you can grow soy again and again, you often must clear the land of more valuable trees to grow it.
Coconut Wax Sustainability
The same people that used to extol the sustainability of soy wax are now singing the praises of coconut wax as “the most sustainable” of the natural candle waxes.
That’s because coconuts are derived from oxygen-producing, erosion-combatting trees. And even though the trees grow eight years before producing fruit in the form of coconuts, each tree can produce 150 coconuts per year.
Coconuts can also be sustainably processed to extract coconut wax used in candle making. You can read more here about the relative sustainability of coconut wax.
If you make your decisions with the environment in mind, coconut wax is a better choice when it comes to environmental sustainability.
Read more about the best non-toxic candles!
Another factor to consider when evaluating candle waxes is how much soot they produce. People like natural waxes such as soy wax and coconut wax because they want to, in many cases, reduce the pollution in their homes that can be caused by waxes like paraffin.
Both soy wax and coconut wax produce low amounts of soot as they burn, but which one has the cleanest burning properties?
Soy Wax and Soot
Soy wax does not produce a lot of smoke, which means it produces very little soot.
Much of the smoke created by candle wax is caused by impurities that in turn cause incomplete combustion during the burning process. Other times, smoke can be caused by too many additives or not enough oxygen getting to the wick.
Soy wax is not prone to creating smoking and is consequently virtually soot-free, making it an ideal choice for people with respiratory sensitivities.
Coconut Wax and Soot
Pure coconut wax is so clean burning that it creates even less soot than soy wax. As a matter of fact, coconut wax creates less soot than any candle wax.
While they both burn cleanly, coconut wax creates slightly less soot than soy wax, making coconut wax the best choice when it comes to creating a clean candle.
The Final Verdict
Coconut wax trumps soy wax in three out of four categories, making it a better choice than soy wax, especially in scented container candles.
You are still better off sticking to soy wax when it comes to pillar, molded, and other free-standing candles.
1. Is coconut wax toxic?
In its pure form, coconut wax has no known toxicity. One thing to watch out for, however, are coconut wax blends. Make sure you carefully read labels to ascertain if your coconut wax is a blend and what it is blended with. Often, coconut wax is blended with paraffin.
2. How much does coconut wax cost?
Coconut wax is one of the most expensive candle waxes, almost as expensive as beeswax. Soy wax costs approximately $3-$4 per pound. Pure coconut wax for candle making can cost upwards of $10 per pound.
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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.