Nothing warms the dark of winter better than candles. They are romantic, comforting, and even create those negative ions we love so much (negative ions pull dust from the air giving it that fresh ‘after a rainstorm smell). Candles are made primarily out of 3 different things: Paraffin, Bees wax, and more recently, soy. So whats the difference you say? Paraffin wax is a byproduct of petroleum refining and produces soot while burning. It is the most common candle type and usually, unless otherwise stated, what most of the candles on the market are made of. Paraffin is also very common in food and cosmetics, from candy to lipstick.
Bees wax candles have been made for centuries and are enjoying somewhat of a renaissance due to a greater ecological awareness and the increasing popularity of natural products. They are a great choice if you have allergies or sensitivities as they do not contain any soot producing chemicals or toxins. Soy candles are made of hydrogenated soybean oil (think margarine) and are commonly combined with paraffin or beeswax in candle making. Soy candles work best in a jar as their low melting point causes them to deform easily in the sun or warm environments. They produce less soot than paraffin and their main draw is that they are natural and vegan.
Fragrances are another thing to watch for. Most fragrances we are used to smelling in household air fresheners contain formaldehyde and all kinds of toxins. Essential oils provide a more natural scent without chemicals. You can find a variety of scents from places like The Body Shop, Whole Foods, or your local natural store. Use essencial oils to brighten your home by adding them to burning candles, or heat them up in a jar above a candle. The scented oils will disperse when heated filling the room with that beautiful smell.
For those who have small children, or don’t like the idea of an open flame should check out these led flickering candles as an alternative.
There’s a very good reason to avoid soy in all its incarnations: it’s called Monsanto.
There’s nothing green, natural or vegan about that.
Beeswax candles have been around for centuries and are well known for being all natural, dripless, soot free and very long burning. Recently, they have found that beeswax candles also are hypoallergenic and release negative ions (natural air purifiers). All of which add to their value and cost.
Soy wax candles, on the other hand, are fairly new to the market and advertised as natural, long burning and less expensive to beeswax. One of the questions to ask yourself before purchasing soy wax candles is what pesticides have been applied to the crop of soy beans and what chemicals have been added to make the wax. Since they are new to the market, how safe is it to inhale soy wax? It has taken decades for warnings to appear about the toxicity of paraffin candles and their link to lung problems since they are made from petroleum sludge.
Beeswax is safe, healthy and truly all natural!
I prefer beeswax candles, but I can see why some may be drawn to soy (being vegan and all). I guess I have a hard time deciding whats better for the both and earth. Soy or beeswax?
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This is really informative. I’ve always wondered what the difference is between the 2 since you normally assume they’re both a healthier alternative to paraffin. Now I wonder if organic soy candles exist.
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This looks to be late looking at the dates on the other comments, but for those who visit in the future, I found this website today & they claim their soy id NON-GMO.
“100% Soy Candles | Made in USA | 100% Cotton Wicks
Universol Aromas is where you can purchase environmentally-friendly soy candles, pure essential oils, room sprays, incense, and scented reed diffusers. We are Green Business members of Green America and all of our candles are made in USA from non-gmo, organic soybeans grown in America. We manufacture all of our natural soy candles near Seattle, Washington. Universol Aromas natural Christmas holiday candles make great gifts for anyone on your shopping list, including loved ones, co-workers & yourself.”
To me, Beeswax candles is the most eco friendly of the two. It don’t smell, don’t make any smoke, burn longer… that is eco friendly at it’s best.
Thanks for the post
I’m new to the business of making candles. I would like to sell a few candles to earn some extra cash. Wondering if I can sell my candles at the price found in the stores? I will use bees wax. Thanks for the information from experience.
I like how many people do mental gymnastics to get to their preference…there is nothing more “eco friendly” about “Don’t smell” and “no visible smoke” doesn’t mean it has no smoke. If that was the case my car would be perfectly eco friendly.
Being around for a long time doesn’t make beeswax automatically better either because other waxes took a long time to find problems with.
The only eco friendly candle use, is not to use candles. We don’t have any need for them. LED lights and sustainable power. If you really want to be sustainable, stop using sustainable things just because you want to use them.
Otherwise you’re still burning something, and you’re hitting the environment either by less efficient burning, or hitting our already in trouble bee populations with more problems and stress.
To be clear, I’m not vegan, I just laugh at hypocrisy when people justify using luxury items that damage the environment by trying to claim green where green does not exist.
LEDs are efficient when measuring power consumption, to be sure, but there’s practically nothing that comes without a price. They still need to be manufactured, and what goes into that process? Most LED lights are a mass of processed plastic and heavy metals. You should be careful throwing around accusations of hypocrisy, and there’s no need to be nasty. The facts themselves should be enough, if you have a supportable position.