Candles: Soy Versus Paraffin Candles

By Covered Bridge Country Store

Date: November 24, 2009

What are the differences between soy wax candles and paraffin wax candles?

Soy wax is a great natural alternative to paraffin wax and it’s made from soybeans, a renewable and cost effective resource that benefits the American agricultural economy. The soybean is a source of high protein and it is also used in many things like crayons, hair and body care products and cleaning products.

Soy candles last about three times longer than petroleum-based candles and they produce an incredible scent with virtually no black soot; however, no candle can be soot free.  Soy wax itself is all-natural and will not produce the thick black soot that you see from paraffin candles, but it does produce a lighter white soot. Anytime you have a flame and combustion you frequently have soot and when synthetics such as fragrance oils and dyes are added, you will produce some soot. Wicks that are too long or an improper wick can produce soot also. Poor performing candles create fine particulates, meaning more toxins are released and more soot.  White soot is hard to see with the naked eye and you will not see a black staining residue on the inside of jars and candle holders. Soy will not do the damage to homes that the black soot does.

Paraffin wax is a by-product of fuel refining and is the final by-product in petroleum refining. Research suggests that breathing paraffin fumes from a burning paraffin candle in an enclosed environment has a detrimental effect on health. The state of California, under its Proposition 65 Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, identified seven or more major toxins in paraffin wax. Paraffin contains several known carcinogens (cancer causing agents) identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as benzene and toluene. These chemicals are released into the air from a burning paraffin candle. Some other air contaminants in paraffin fumes include methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and naphthalene, substances found in paint, varnish removers and lacquer.  Soy candles do not release the toxins that paraffin candles emit and therefore don’t put you and your family’s health at risk.

Soy wax burns cleaner, lasts longer and holds more fragrance.  It is also biodegradable and water-soluble and because soy is a renewable plant resource, it helps support our American agriculture.