- Paraffin wax is toxic. False
- Soy wax is water soluble. False.
- Soy wax is biodegradable while Paraffin wax is not. False.
- Candles made with “natural” ingredients are safer. False.
- Soy candles do not soot and paraffin candles cause soot. False.
- Soot from candles is harmful. False.
CANDLE WAX FACTS
- Prior to the 19th century, a “wax” candle typically referred to a beeswax candle.
- All waxes are primarily hydrocarbons, whether the wax is of animal, vegetable, or petroleum origin. The chemical composition of all waxes used for candle-making is similar, and all candle waxes burn in the same manner.
- An estimated 1 billion pounds of wax are used in the candles sold each year in the United States.
- Candles account for the second largest use of waxes in North America, after packaging and package coatings.
- Paraffin is the most commonly used candle wax today. Beeswax, soy wax, palm wax, gels, and synthesized waxes are also used in candle-making for the U.S. market, as are blends of waxes.
- Waxes burn with a yellow flame due to the presence of carbon.
- No specific type of wax or wax blend is considered “best” for candlemaking. All candle waxes – when provided in high-quality format – have been shown to burn cleanly, safely and in the same manner.
- No candle wax has ever been shown to be toxic or harmful to human health.
- There is no such thing as a soot-free wax. All organic compounds when burned will emit some carbon (soot) due to incomplete combustion. Sooting is primarily a factor of wick length and flame disturbance.
- Reputable candle manufacturers use only high-quality waxes in their formulations.
What is the best Candle Wax?
There is not really a ‘best’ wax overall, as all waxes have their own strengths and weaknesses, but there are some waxes that will work better than others in a particular application.
Waxes are generally split into two categories: Pillar/melt waxes and Container waxes and can be either vegetable based or mineral wax based.
Pillar blends cool very hard and are used for making free-standing candles that do not require a container or wax tarts/melts.
Container waxes – as the name suggests – are softer waxes designed for use in a container of some form; be it a metal tin, glass jar, coconut shell or anything else you care to fill 🙂
In terms of mineral vs. vegetable wax, this is a debate that is only really had amongst candle makers as the majority of customers are apathetic to the wax used. Customers generally want a candle that looks and smells nice; it is us candle makers that tend to get hung up on the exact details of the wax, either as a USP or because we think consumers make buying decisions based on wax.
As a general rule, paraffin (mineral) waxes make stronger scented candles. This is why most luxury brands still use paraffin wax, or blends that contain a lot of paraffin wax. They have not missed a ‘natural’ gap in the market; they choose to use paraffin wax because it makes great smelling candles. Whilst paraffin wax is often associated with smoke and soot, a well made paraffin candle should not produce much soot at all.
Vegetable waxes, such as our EcoSystem blend, or soy, rapeseed and coconut waxes are relatively new compared to paraffin waxes, but are growing in popularity as they have good Eco credentials which can offer some marketing benefit. They also create melt-pools that cover the entire surface of the candle quite quickly, whereas paraffin candles tend to burn down with a more concave profile (with hang-up).
Whilst predominantly used by skincare/spa brands, vegetable waxes are also used by other brand owners wishing to create a more ‘natural’ candle. These waxes are very soft and have a beautiful texture, but generally generate less scent throw than paraffin equivalents. They can also be more difficult to work with as the waxes are much denser and do not transfer heat too well.
Are certain candle waxes better than others?
No. All types of candle waxes perform well, and will burn cleanly and safely when they are of high quality. U.S. candle manufacturers select waxes or blends of waxes based on their suitability for specific types of candles or formulation profiles, as well as their own candle-making preferences.
Is paraffin wax toxic?
No. Paraffin wax is non-toxic. In fact, paraffin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in food, cosmetics, and medical applications. Food-grade paraffin is commonly used for manufacturing candles.
What causes a candle to smoke, and what can I do to correct it?
A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. However, if the wick becomes too long, or an air current disturbs the flame’s teardrop shape, small amounts of unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame as a visible wisp of smoke. Any candle will soot if the flame is disturbed. To avoid this, always trim the wick to ¼ inch before every use and be sure to place candles away from drafts, vents or air currents. If a candle continually flickers or smokes, it is not burning properly and should be extinguished. Allow the candle to cool, trim the wick, make sure the area is draft free, then re-light.
Is candle soot harmful?
No. The minuscule amount of soot produced by a candle is the natural byproduct of incomplete combustion. Candle soot is composed primarily of elemental carbon particles, and is similar to the soot given off by kitchen toasters and cooking oils. These everyday household sources of soot are not considered a health concern, and are chemically different from the soot formed by the burning of diesel fuel, coal, gasoline, etc.
Are candles made with “natural” ingredients or essential oils safer?
A natural ingredient, as opposed to a manufactured or synthesized ingredient, is not necessarily any safer. In fact, scores of natural ingredients are known to be extremely toxic to humans in very small amounts. NCA members are committed to manufacturing candles that use ingredients known to be safe and approved for use in candles, whether “natural” or synthesized.
Is my candle biodegradable?
Probably. Studies have shown that beeswax, paraffin and vegetable-based waxes are biodegradable. The vast majority of candles today are made primarily from these waxes.
No. By definition, a wax is not soluble in water.
Source: The National Candle Association, the governing body of candle manufacturers in the United States.
Soy Wax Fiction
Soy Candles are More Healthy. Fiction.
Soy wax candles are not 100% natural. Chemicals are added to the byproduct of soy to make a waxy substance and even more chemicals are added for the soy wax to be able to hold fragrance oil. Fragrance oil is not a natural substance, so if the soy candle has fragrance in it, it is even further from being 100% natural. Even soy candles made with essential oils are not “all natural” because the wax is chemically produced from a soy bean. The soy bean does not come out of the ground ready to melt down for a candle.
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