• The Different Types of Candle Wax

August 06, 2019

There are many different types of candle waxes available, some natural, some synthetic and some a mix of both.  Since launching our business and speaking with hundreds of customers at events, we were genuinely surprised to discover how little many candle lovers actually know about the wax of their favourite scent.  

"Not all waxes are created equal.  Whether you care about the toxin debate or air quality, one thing that cannot be denied, is the negative effect that using non-renewable fuel sources has on our planet and wildlife."

Many articles have been written in the media of late about the benefits of sourcing natural and renewable candles but there still seems to be a gap in knowledge of what exactly that means. 

We have put together an overview of the different types of waxes available so that you can become more aware of what you are buying and it's impact. 

Soy Wax 

Soy wax is growing in popularity as a wax used for luxury candles,  because it is not only natural, but a renewable and sustainable source with minimal impact on our environment and wildlife.  Soy wax is made from 100% soybean oil, which goes through a process to created these beautiful natural flakes you see here. 

Developed in the early 1990s as an alternative to the petroleum-derived paraffin and the more natural, but expensive option, beeswax.  Like paraffin, soy comes in a variety of blends and melting points but soy wax burns more slowly making it last longer than many other candle wax options.  It has also earned a reputation for carrying scent better than others too. 

While some candles are made from 100% Soy Wax, not all may be sustainably sourced.  Like palm oil, sadly the growth in popularity of soy has led to huge deforestation issues in south America and Asia.  The cost of these soybeans will be cheaper than those sustainably sourced.   Ensuring that the products you buy have used sustainably sourced ingredients is incredibly important and thankfully something consumers are now aware of. 

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin is one of the oldest and most common waxes used in candle making.  It is widely available and relatively inexpensive.  Many of the candles found in stores today are still made using paraffin wax. Paraffin comes in many different melt point options, making it easy to use for different applications, from votive candles to pillar and glass candles.  

However, with increased environmental awareness and consumers now looking more closely at ingredients, paraffin is coming under fire for the toxins it releases when burnt and is no longer universally embraced these days, 

Paraffin wax is a by-product of the crude oil refinement process and can be seen as a bad choice because it is related to petroleum.  Many eco aware consumers actively avoid this type of wax and look for cleaner alternatives.  The debate continues and there are many articles arguing whether the levels of toxins released have significant effect on our health of not.  However, undisputed is the damages caused to our environment by continuing to use this non renewable source of wax.

Palm Wax

Palm wax, along with palm oil, has had a huge boost in popularity due to its ease of sourcing and low cost.  It is similar to soy wax in that it is made from a natural oil - in this case, palm oil.

Palm oil is now used in everything from food ingredients to soaps, detergents, candles and much more.  Palm wax is a very firm, almost brittle wax, that works very well in pillars and votives.  Palm wax can be also blended with soy wax to make it harder, while still retaining the natural qualities of the wax.  These are often referred to as a 'Natural Blend' on the packaging.  

Natural or Blended Wax

'Soy Blend', 'Natural Blend', 'Natural Candle'

Often you will see a wax labeled 'Natural Blend' or 'Soy Blend' or  'Palm Oil Blend', this means that other waxes have been mixed with these ingredients in order to create the candle.  That could include paraffin, palm oil, soy or even coconut oil.  As long as a candle has 51% soy wax, as well as any other waxes, it can be called a 'soy wax blend'.

Gel Wax

Gel is not actually a wax at all. It is a combination of resin and mineral oil. The Penreco company holds the patent for gel wax, so chances are if you're making gel candles, your wax came from them. It is similar to other waxes in that it holds scent and color and melts and burns. 

Initially there was only gel wax for votive or glass candles but recently they have created gel that is firm enough to make pillar candles and other types as well.

Growth in eco-conscious candle wax

Many brands are slowly using more sustainable options in replacement of paraffin wax.  Partly because of the environmental issues when using non-renewable fossil fuels and possibly also due to the benefits of using a natural option with purer ingredient. 

The choice is yours and we hope that this article helps 

Further Resources, should you wish to explore further.

Britannica, T. E. (2018, May 09). Paraffin wax. Retrieved June 4, 2018, from https://www.britannica.com/science/paraffin-wax

The Wilderness Society. (n.d.). Seven ways oil and gas drilling is bad news for the environment. Retrieved June 4, 2018, from https://wilderness.org/seven-ways-oil-and-gas-drilling-bad-news-environment

Frequent use of certain candles produces unwanted chemicals. (2009, August 24). Retrieved June 4, 2018, from https://www.scsu.edu/news_article.aspx?news_id=832

European Candle Association ASBL. (2009, August 19). ECA statement refuting study by South Carolina State University researchers suggesting candles may release harmful or even carcinogenic pollutants. Retrieved June 4, 2018, from http://www.eca-candles.com/index.php?newsid=106&sprach_id=en&&SID=6bdb9ocpi7rrgdn9fp4bp4aau7 

Siegle, L. (2011, November 27). The burning issue of wax. Retrieved June 4, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/nov/27/lucy-siegle-candle-wax-ethical

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