Candle wax

Does is matter what wax you are burning?

Our journey to finding the right wax to use in our candles was very informative to say the least, and so we’ve put together this short guide to give you more information about candle waxes.

What exactly is wax, and what happens to it when it burns?

Wax comes in a variety of forms, depending on its source: mineral or petroleum-derived wax, animal wax, and plant wax. When heated at high temperatures, it is a flammable material that turns to liquid and burns into the air.

What are the main differences between the various types of candle wax?

Paraffin wax:

Paraffin is the most common candle wax on the market.  It is made from petroleum as a by-product of making crude oil. It’s the least expensive of its kind and is popular among candle-makers because of its ability to retain fragrance and colour.  What needs to be taken into consideration is that, paraffin wax can be as bad for our bodies as it is for the planet.

According to Healthline, lit paraffin candles emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can affect your respiratory system but also impact heart and kidney health. They also emit carcinogenic fumes in the form of black soot, potentially increasing cancer risk.

Another problem with this widely-used candle wax is that it’s a petroleum-based material that is made as a result of the oil industry. In other words, paraffin is an unsustainable by-product of fossil fuels that should be avoided if you’re the slightest bit eco-conscious.

So, does that mean you can’t enjoy a guilt-free moment of bliss? Absolutely not. There are several candle wax alternatives to bear in mind when shopping for eco-friendly candles.  Here are a few of the most popular options:

Beeswax:

Beeswax is the oldest candle-making substance. It’s all-natural and produced in the bee’s hives by honey bees after visiting flowers and eating honey. It has an extremely high melting point (about 62-64°C) and is therefore ideal for natural candle making. Famous for it’s incredibly bright flame, beeswax candles emit the same light spectrum as the sun to create a warm and cosy ambience. It’s another environmentally-friendly option that offers a clean burn that doesn’t compromise your health. Its scent throw isn’t as powerful as that of coconut wax, but if you’re a fan of a subtle honey aroma — you can’t go wrong! Although beeswax is 100% natural it is not a vegan option, meaning it isn’t best for those who are animal conscious.

Soy wax:

Long-established in the candle-wax industry, soy wax is a completely plant based wax made from soybeans. The beans are washed, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes after harvesting. The oil is then extracted from the flakes and hydrogenated. This is the cheapest plant based candle wax out there and so it’s a great option if your budget is tight. They last significantly longer than paraffin candles and provide a soot-free burn so you can purely enjoy the scents.

That said, it certainly isn’t the most eco-friendly choice for candle makers because 80% of soy grows in South America, it must travel a long distance to arrive in the UK, Europe and beyond. This alone contributes to a higher carbon footprint.  It’s also becoming increasingly difficult to locate non-GMO soy due to the high demand for it, which means that your candle may contain residual chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers. According to WWL, without proper safeguards and better production practices, the soybean industry is also causing huge deforestation and displacement of small farmers and indigenous people around the world.

Coconut wax:

Formulated by pressing the oil out of coconut flesh which is then filtered and hydrogenated to remove the coconut scent.  This type of candle wax is 100% plant based and fully biodegradable. It’s made from a renewable and high-yield crop that is hand-harvested, which means that zero pesticides or fertilizers are used in the process. Coconut wax tends to be soft and can melt in the summer months and so in order to increase the melting point it’s often blended with other plant based waxes to achieve a wax that’s solid at room temperature.

There’s good news for your health, too. Coconut wax offers a clean burn so that you don’t have to worry about toxins, soot and smoke. It also “throws the scent” beautifully, meaning that when you light the candle, your room is immediately filled with a strong burst of scents.

Coconut wax grows in Asia and so also has higher carbon footprint as it travels to UK, Europe and beyond, however it is still a sustainable option due to how it’s grown and how the wax is produced.  Its a natural product that contains no or very few chemicals and does little harm to the environment upon disposal.

Rapeseed (rapeseed) wax:

Rapeseed is the bright yellow crop that you see in fields in the early summer months.  It grows all over the UK and Europe and because of this, it has very low carbon footprint! Once harvested, the oil can then be extracted from the seeds and hydrogenated to form a solid wax.  This type of candle wax is 100% plant based and offers a clean long lasting burn.

With your new knowledge of candle wax, we’re hoping you’ll opt for the natural alternatives out there. At Purscents we use a blend of rapeseed and coconut wax to craft our entire range of essential oil candles — enchanting your space with a smokeless burn and deeply therapeutic scents.

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