- Tips to make you a candle pro
- This candle’s flame is too large
- My candle is smoking
- There’s a crater in my candle’s center
- My candle is sweating
- I don’t really smell anything
- Soy Candle Making Problems and Solutions
- Solving Common Candle Making Problems for Soy Candles
- Problem 1: Mushrooming or Excess Carbon
- Problem 2: Tunneling
- Problem 3: Frosting on Candles – When White Flakes Appear on the Surface and Side of the Candle
- Problem 4: Poor Adhesion – Shrinkage, Air Bubbles and Wet Spots – When the Wax Pulls Away from the Container
- Problem 5: Dipping – Cracking and Uneven Surface Around the Wick
- Problem 6: Sweating or Curdling
- Soy candle fragrance throw, advice from the experts
- The Fragrance
- The Wick
- The Wax
- The candle making process
- In summary
- Soy Candle FAQ
- Soy vs. Paraffin: The BIG Debate!
- Soy Wax
- Paraffin Wax
- So what's the debate?
- Scent Throw
- Burn Time
- So, how do I choose?
Tips to make you a candle pro
Here, we’ll share some tips that will answer your burning candle questions, such as “why does my candle burn down the middle?”, “why is the flame so large?” and “why can’t I smell my scented candle?” Read on and you’ll become a candle burning expert.
This candle’s flame is too large
A flame that burns too high is also a flame that burns too hot.
An exaggerated flame has three main drawbacks: aesthetically, it doesn’t look great, you may be burning through your candle faster and losing some precious burn time, and it is a fire hazard (if the glass isn’t thick enough, too much heat could shatter your candle’s container). A flame that is control, flashing, or smoking should be extinguished immediately, as it can be a sign of something wrong with the candle’s composition.
If you find that your candle flames are burning too high, there are two potential causes. One potential cause is that the wick is too “thick” — a decision by the manufacturer which you can’t do much about. The other potential cause is that the wick is too long, and needs to be trimmed.
A best practice is to trim the wick to 1/4 of an inch before each burn, ensuring that control of the amount of ‘fuel’ provided to your flame stays within your control.
To trim your wick, you can use a wick trimmer — though we find nail clippers and Joyce Chen scissors do the job just as well.
My candle is smoking
Have you placed your candle in a draft? Assuming your wick is trimmed to the proper height, a draft can cause your candle to create smoke while it burns, something that isn’t good for your lungs or your nose. Any bursts of air that cause your candle flame to dance around also cause your wick to use fuel at an inconsistent pace.
Because the wick is drawing oil from the candle wax, this means that a buildup is created within the wick, as the flame fails to burn as much oil as it’s taking in. When the flame gets high again, it burns too much fuel, resulting in the smoke and soot you see. A simple fix is to move your candle away from any fans, open windows or doors, air conditioners, and vents.
This will ensure a smooth burn and limit smoking.
There’s a crater in my candle’s center
A common problem amongst candle lovers of all kinds is ‘tunneling’, a term for what happens when a candle only burns down its center, leaving wax residue on the edges of the container and creating a tunnel- shape.
After a while, this makes the candle nearly impossible to burn, as the wick can’t receive enough air to burn steadily, and is ‘drowned’ out by melting wax above it.
Additionally, it’s a waste of wax, especially if you purchased a quality candle.
Fear not! This issue can be easily avoided by staying away from short burn times. The first burn in particular is critical: burning your candle for two to three hours on its initial run allows the wax to melt all the way out to the edges of its container.
This will ensure that when your wax cools, the surface of the candle will remain even. A fix for tunneling though is simply done by removing some of the surrounding wax to help the candle melt fully to its edges.
Wax also has a ‘memory’, this means that it will sometimes refuse to melt beyond its last point of melting and cooling so burning a candle until the wax melts to its edges is so important, it keeps a consistent burn throughout the life of the candle.
Other reasons why the melt pool might not reach the edges of the container despite burning it for hours and hours is that the wick might be too small (which, unfortunately, you can't do much about).
My candle is sweating
There can be a few reasons for a candle sweating, but the most common is due to the oil content of the candle. Some candles are scented with fragrance oils, and some, such as soy candles, have a natural oil content that will occasionally ‘sweat’ through the wax of the candle.
In most cases, this is just something that will happen on a candle’s initial burn and never again. Once the candle is out and cool, you can use a paper towel to clean up any excess oil.
If your candle sweats every time you burn it, this is often due to an overabundance of oil in the candle, which isn't a problem really.
Exposure to heat may also cause sweating; hotter conditions increase the odds that a candle sweats, all else being equal. Apart from questionable aesthetics (and in some cases wasted fragrance), sweating generally isn’t a big issue to worry about.
I don’t really smell anything
It can be quite disappointing to buy an expensive scented candle and discover that it doesn’t emit much of a fragrance. To troubleshoot the problem, first try burning your candle in a smaller room such as a bathroom or home office, in case the scent is simply subtler than expected.
Also, try burning your candle for a longer period of time, as it may simply need more melted wax to diffuse the scent. If none of these things work, it could unfortunately just be a flaw in the candle’s creation; the fragrances used may not be potent enough or concentrated enough.
Consider purchasing your next candle from brands investing in high quality fragrances.
Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be a candle pro sooner than you think. If you need some personal candle assistance, our inbox here at Keap is always open to your questions! Get in touch anytime at TheLab@KeapBK.com.
Soy Candle Making Problems and Solutions
Problem 1: Mushrooming or Excess Carbon Problem 2: Tunneling or an Uneven Burn Problem 3: Frosting on Candles Problem 4: Poor Adhesion – Shrinkage, Air Bubbles and Wet Spots Problem 5: Dipping – Cracking and Uneven Surface Around the Wick
Problem 6: Sweating or Curdling
Solving Common Candle Making Problems for Soy Candles
Soy wax is a natural product and therefore the process of pouring and making soy wax candles can result in imperfections. While these are all part of the candle making process the strategies below will help you identify and reduce candle burning problems.
Problem 1: Mushrooming or Excess Carbon
Soy candle wick mushrooming can occur when the wick chosen is too large for the container used. This is characterised with a flame that burns very bright and excess carbon that falls to the side of the wick and into the burn pool.
To avoid mushrooming simply use a smaller wick, you can use this wick selection guide to help you find the right wick size for your candle and ultimately solve this problem.
Problem 2: Tunneling
Tunneling occurs when the wick used is too small and flame does not sufficiently melt the whole surface of the candle. This will result in the candle burning unevenly, a smaller flame, lower scent throw and the candle extinguishing itself. So if you are wondering how to burn a candle evenly or how to burn a candle properly, then refer to the solution below.
The best candle tunneling fix is to use a larger wick size, you can use this wick selection guide to help you find the right wick size for your candle and ultimately solve this problem.
Problem 3: Frosting on Candles – When White Flakes Appear on the Surface and Side of the Candle
Frosting on candles occurs naturally in wax and is characterised by a white discolouration or crystals that appear in the top of the wax or side of the jar.
Solution: To prevent frosting soy candles try the solutions and steps below.
Pour your wax at a cooler temperature:
If you usually pour your soy wax at 50 degrees Celsius, try pouring the wax 5-10 degrees lower. Many waxes can be poured as low as 38 degrees Celsius. Note: It is important to remember to continually stir the wax to stop it setting when pouring at cooler temperatures.
Add a small amount of coconut oil:
Some candle makers have found that using a small amount of coconut oil in their candles reduces and eliminates frosting in their soy candles. Simply add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil for every 1kg of wax, stirring it into the wax when it is fully melted. This combined with a lower pour temperature should help to minimise and eliminate frosting in your candles.
Problem 4: Poor Adhesion – Shrinkage, Air Bubbles and Wet Spots – When the Wax Pulls Away from the Container
Poor adhesion (sometimes called candle wet spots) occur when the wax pulls away from the side of the container – creating air bubbles in the candles. This is most noticeable when using transparent containers and appears as a pocket of air trapped between the container and the wax (often appearing ‘wet’).
If your candles have wet spots or shrinkage then read the solutions and follow the steps below.
Pour at a cooler temperature:
Similarly to when frosting occurs, try pouring your candles 5-10 degrees Celsius cooler. Check the melting point of the soy wax you are using to see how low you can go when pouring at a cooler temperature (and to ensure the wax does not set). Many waxes can be poured at as low as 38 degrees Celsius. Note: It is important to remember to continually stir the wax to stop it setting when pouring at cooler temperatures.
Clean all containers thoroughly before pouring the wax:
Sometimes dust or dirt from the factory will be inside the container, causing issues with the wax sticking to the side of the glass. By cleaning all containers you remove this dust and ensure that the wax can adhere to the sides of the container correctly.
Pour candles in an environment that is at room temperature:
Ensure you pour your candle in a room that is between 18-25 degrees. This will ensure that the candles set gradually and do not cool too quickly.
Problem 5: Dipping – Cracking and Uneven Surface Around the Wick
Dipping is the result of the wax cooling unevenly on the surface of the candle. It is often characterised by cracks around the wick – where the wax has cooled more quickly.
This can be minimised by following the steps below.
Pour at a cooler temperature:
Similarly to wet spots, try pouring your candles 5-10 degrees Celsius cooler. Check the melting point of the soy wax you are using to see how low you can go when pouring at a cooler temperature (and to ensure the wax does not set). Many waxes can be poured at as low as 38 degrees Celsius. Note: It is important to remember to continually stir the wax to stop it setting when pouring at cooler temperatures.
Pour candles in an environment that is at room temperature:
Ensure you pour your candle in a room that is between 18-25 degrees. This will ensure that the candles set gradually and do not cool too quickly.
Pull the top of the wick as the candles set:
A simple trick to stop dipping is to give the wick a slight tug as it sets. This releases the air that builds up around the wick, which can sometimes form near the surface of the candle. Take care to be very gentle to avoid displacing the wick in the candle.
Problem 6: Sweating or Curdling
When too much fragrance oil has been used in a soy candle the wax can curdle when setting, or less extreme, a thin layer of oil can form on the top of the surface of the candle.
This is because most soy wax can’t hold more than 12% fragrance oil, so increasing fragrance oil above this amount will result in the sweating and curdling of the candle.
To avoid this issue simply use less fragrance oil.
It is important to note that while making the candles your ‘sense of smell’ will become accustomed to the scent. This may cloud your judgement when determining how much scent is needed to reach the right scent throw. It is always good when working with scents to take a break and give your sense of smell a chance to re-adjust.
Disclaimer: We have taken every effort to ensure that this guide is as accurate as possible. However Crafty Candle Supplies cannot guarantee or take responsibility for any errors or omissions in this information.
Crafty Candle Supplies intends for this information to be used as a guide only and accepts no responsibility for actions or outcomes that are a consequence of using the information above.
Please take every safe precaution in the making of candles, or experimentation of the candle making process.
Explore our range of supplies including wicks, fragrances, soy wax, containers and candle making kits.
For more information on candle making browse through our comprehensive range of guides and resources.
Soy candle fragrance throw, advice from the experts
The makeup of the candle and the way it’s made can have a big impact on fragrance throw.
All of our fragrances are designed and tested to work optimally with our waxes. Be careful when you buy fragrance because not all fragrances are created equal, they may share the same beautiful sounding name but cheaper fragrances are cheaper for a reason.
They are often ‘watered down’ versions…meaning they contain more base oil and less actual fragrance notes.
Cheaper fragrances usually contain phthalates, a rather nasty little chemical which you don’t really want in your natural soy candle!
If you want to have the best shot at obtaining optimal fragrance throw, start with high quality fragrance oils that are phthlate free and designed for use in soy candles.
Fragrance load. It’s very important to pay attention to the recommended fragrance load for each wax type, fragrance load simply means how much fragrance you can “load” into the wax. The chemistry of the waxes means that they will hold a particular level of fragrance oil best.
Overloading a wax with a higher fragrance percentage than recommended can actually make the fragrance throw worse as the wax cannot hold all the oil which can lead to the sooting, leaching and burning issues mentioned earlier.
We recommend using between 6% and 10% fragrance with most soy waxes.
You can find out more about how to calculate fragrance load and ingredients here.
It’s very important to make sure that the right size and style of wick are used, to get a good melt pool on the candle.
When the wax is warm and liquid, the fragrance can evaporate easily from it, making the surrounding air full of fragrance molecules and giving a strong hot throw.
If your candle burns with a small melt pool that doesn’t reach the edge of the container, you’re not getting the most the fragrance and you need to increase the thickness of your wick.
Be careful not to use too thick a wick though – the fragrance throw comes from evaporating the fragrance oil from the wax, not burning it – so you need a wick that gives you a steady burning flame that melts the wax but not so big that you start to see sooting. If your wick is too thick, the fragrance will be drawn up the flame and be destroyed before it can evaporate.
The wax itself can have an impact. The chemistry of wax is a huge topic of its own but in short, it can be a good analogy to think of wax as a little bit a sponge, or a net. When you add fragrance to wax, the fragrance disperses throughout the wax water in a sponge.
It remains “trapped” in the wax, but it can come out quite easily. Different types of wax are different types of sponge – some allow the fragrance to come out very easily and others keep it locked inside.
As a candle maker, you need to find the right balance – if the sponge (the wax) is too tight, no fragrance can escape and the fragrance throw will be weak.
If the sponge is too loose, the fragrance escapes too easily and you can suffer from leaching (where the fragrance leaks the wax and pools on the surface), problems with burning, soot, and sometimes if the fragrances leaks out, it can all evaporate too quickly and when it comes to burning it or smelling it a few weeks later, the scent is weaker.
The melting point of the wax can impact the fragrance throw – a wax that melts at a lower temperature usually has a “looser net” and so releases the fragrance a little easier. Be sure to test your candles fully to make sure that you find the right balance of melting point.
The candle making process
Once you’ve selected your ingredients, the candle making process is mostly about managing temperature – you have to find the balance when it comes to wax temperature when you are adding fragrance. You need to ensure that the wax is fully melted so that when you add and mix the fragrance, it disperses evenly throughout the wax.
The closer the wax is to its congealing point, the more difficult it is for the fragrances to spread evenly. However, don’t heat it too high because if you add fragrance to very hot wax, some of the top notes can burn off during the processing and evaporate away, leaving you with a weaker fragrance once the candle is made.
We recommend adding fragrance to wax when it’s heated to about 10-15 degrees above its melting point. So, if your wax melts at 52 degrees, heat the wax to about 62-67 degrees before adding. This is a good temperature to store and pour at too.
You should make sure that you mix the fragrance thoroughly to get it dispersed evenly throughout the wax before pouring too – otherwise you could end up with pockets of fragrance instead of a nice even distribution, or the fragrance could all “sink” to the bottom of the jug so the first few candles you pour might contain much less fragrance than the last ones.
If you’re storing fragranced wax whilst it’s heated up and melted, be sure to cover the jug or container so that the fragrance doesn’t evaporate. Turn the temperature down to keep the evaporation rate as low as possible.
When you put it all together, there are a lot of factors at play that affect the fragrance throw. The type of wax, the makeup of the various fragrance notes, the thickness of the wick, the temperature at which you add fragrance and pour the wax. These are all variables that you need to consider and unfortunately there is no one magic recipe that covers all of the variables.
Following the tips above should help you get the most your candle and fragrance. Our advice is to keep good notes and continue to fine tune your candle recipes’ during your candle making journey.
Feel free to leave a comment or question below with your experiences in achieving the perfect candle scent throw.
Soy Candle FAQ
Why is soy awesome?
Because it is! Oh, you need more than that? Sure, how about:
Soy Wax is a completely natural, non-toxic, and biodegradable candle wax. They use farmed soybeans to make the wax. Which means this wax is actually a type of vegetable oil.
It releases fragrance naturally and for longer than most waxes.
Soy candle wax can actually accommodate more fragrance on a by-weight basis than paraffin (petroleum wax), the most commonly used candle wax, which means you will get a longer lasting and purer scent throw.
The scent of a candle comes from the pool of melted wax, Soy wax has a lower melting point than paraffin candles and consequently has a larger pool of melted wax to disperse the fragrance.
Soy wax candles can also last for 25 – 50 % longer than paraffin candles, making them more economical to your budget.
Made from an environmentally friendly, renewable resource, it is water soluble thus you can wash out your jars with hot, soapy water, which means containers and jars can be reused. However, we do not recommend that you pour wax down your drains as the wax can solidify in the pipes and clog your sink.
In addition to all the other benefits of soy candles, they also produce up to 90% less soot than paraffin candles.
The soot that is produced is white, not black, so it won’t stain your walls as it burns. For this reason, soy candles are one of the healthiest choices when burning candles.
Breathing soot can be very unhealthy and will eventually cover nearby walls and furniture with the black substance.
Why is my candle doing that: terms and solutions
When it’s said that a candle scent “throws well”, this means it fills the room with a strong, lasting scent. Soy wax candles not only have a great scent throw, but also have a cleaner smell. This is because the wax is clean burning and the fragrance is coming from the melted wax pool rather than the wick only.
“Tunneling” is when a candle burns down the middle of the jar, or more specifically, when the wax does not melt all the way to the edge, leaving lots of wax stuck to the side of the jar.
To help prevent candles from boring a hole down the middle burn candles at a minimum of at least one hour for each inch in diameter, up to a maximum of 4 hours. For example, burn a 3-inch diameter candle for a minimum of at least 3 hours each time.
Burn long enough to achieve a melt pool that can be seen all the way around the glass. If not, the wax will never melt past the first wax pool and thereby cause tunneling. We recommend that the first time you light the candle, allow it to burn until the liquid wax covers the entire top of the candle.
This breaking in process insures that it will perform better and more evenly throughout the life of the candle and help prevent tunneling.
It is possible for some candles to develop a light flakey or chalky appearance. This is called “frosting” and is very common with candles made from soy wax and is a natural characteristic of soy. I find it is more obvious when you have the darker colors. This is also known as “blooming”.
The whiteness caused by crystallization is similar to what you get on chocolate over time.
There are a few things that can cause this: the season we are currently in (fall and winter months you will probably see this more because of the cold shifts), the pour temperature when that candle was made, and direct sun light and dramatic changes in temperature can also be a factor.
Many makers use a paraffin and soy blend to combat this however we have opted not to use paraffin to combat frosting because we feel it’s important to provide an ecofriendly candle. It should not be considered a flaw and does not in any way affect the burning or the quality of the candle.
Sometimes you may notice that it looks your candle has a wet spot, this is not actually a wet spot, but an air cavity. With some candle containers, the Soy wax has a tendency pull away from the container side causing an air pocket. This is normal.
It could be caused by the difference in room and jar temperature, or the temperature of the room the candle is in while setting. Sometimes it can happen after the candle has set and the wax shrinks.
I’ve had jars that look perfect when made, but after being exposed to fluctuations in temperature they change in appearance. This will not affect the candle burn or scent throw of your candle.
Mushrooming is when you wick gets too long while burning and the tip of the wick develops a small round cap of charred wick on it. This is a buildup of the soot and will cause your candle to smoke.
When you notice smoke, an unusually large flame, or see this cap simply put out your candle and, once cooled, trim your wick back to the proper length. Never move a candle while hot or burning.
Extinguish the candle if jar becomes excessively hot.
This is moisture on the candle surface. Since soy wax has a low melting point, it can release excess moisture that it cannot hold. Typically, this is due to temperature changes.
You can leave it or wipe it out with a tissue. Sweat from soy candles will NOT affect the burn quality and will generally not show up again after your first burn.
For optimum performance of soy candles, please do not put them in direct sunlight.
There are largely two possible reasons why a candle is smoking. The candle may be in a draft or the wick has gotten too long and/or mushroomed.
Simply extinguish the flame, let the candle cool down, trim the wick back to 1/4th of an inch and move to a draft free area before relighting. To extinguish Either use a candle dipper, pinch it out, or dip the wick into the melted wax.
Blowing the candle out is of course the easiest, but it will also cause the wick to smoke for a while. Never move a candle while hot or burning.
Sometimes you may notice air bubbles on top or in your candles between the sides of the container and the wax. Soy wax is more sensitive to temperature change than other types of wax and will sometimes shrink resulting in air bubbles. This is not considered a fault and will not affect the way the candle burns or the scent throw.
Where should I burn my soy candle?
It is best to burn the candle on a stable, protected, hard surface away from drafts and material that could catch fire.
How do I clean up a soy wax spill?
Soy wax cleans up very easily with mild soap and warm water.
Can I use a Plastic (polycarbonate) Tealight Cup in my tart warmer?
Plastic tea light cups are made so that you can see the beautiful colored wax through the plastic. They are not to be used inside any enclosed holders such as tart warmers, tea light lamps, or tea light houses. The heat could build up and melt the plastic cup.
Why Is This Soy Solid? Soy is an oil.
The soybeans are crushed, and the extracted oil is then hydrogenated by passing a solution of hydrogen through which changes the melting point and composition so that it solidifies at room temperature.
How long should I burn my soy candle?
We suggest that you not burn your candle more than 3 to 4 hours at a time. This will keep the flame from becoming too large, the jar from becoming too hot and prevent soot from accumulating around the top of the wick.
If you are a “Power Burner” that s to keep a candle burning from morning to night, it’s very important to extinguish the candle every 3-4 hours and trim the wick and let the candle cool before you relight.
As always, you should not leave any lit candle unattended.
Do I need to trim the wick?
You should always trim the wick to 1/4″ every time you light your candle.
When not properly trimmed, the wicks of all candles can “mushroom”, causing excessive flickering and/or smoke, it can also cause your candle to burn far too quickly, thus shortening the longevity of you candle. Keeping your wick trimmed keeps this to a minimum and makes your candle safer.
Trimming also prevents your wick from curling back into the wax – a common problem with non-metal cored wicks. Avoid getting match particles, dust or wick pieces in your candle wax. Any foreign objects may cause spluttering of wax.
Is soy better for allergies/Asthma?
Because we use only soy and non-metal cored wicks in our products, this does seem to help with these problems. We have many customers who had similar concerns – they have allergies or asthma and are bothered by regular candles, but have no problem enjoying our soy candles. However, because everyone is different, we cannot guarantee how our candles may affect you.
What makes our candles great?
I’m so glad you asked! There are many reasons we think our soy candles are a step above the rest:
Unique and reusable containers are our thing! We love to find and use all kinds of containers for our candles; wine glasses, mugs, soup bowls, candy dishes….
Anything we can think of that will safely hold a candle really! We do a sample burn of all of our container types before we put them up for sale,just to ensure they will hold up to the flame.
They mix with our more standard containers and makes things fun!
We don’t blend our wax. Many “soy” candles in today's market are actually a blend containing soy wax and paraffin wax. My candles are all soy and do not, and never will, contain paraffin wax.
We use ecofriendly cotton braided wicks that contain no metal whatsoever. This ensures that you get less soot and smoke than you would get with more common traditional zinc wick.
We strive to make sure our burn times are accurate by burning them ourselves first, so you know just what you’re going to get when you buy from us. Burn times can always vary depending on the location and conditions of your candle but if you follow the instructions you can expect to have an accurate burn time when you buy with us.
More fragrance options! We have a huge list of fragrances we offer and can custom make for you and we are always on the lookout for new and interesting scents to add to the collection, so you can count on us for varied and unique scents year-round. We love to hear your thoughts on new scents and our selection! Please contact us with your feedback.
We know that some people love the seasonal scents because they only come along in their season and their very limitability makes them more special, however, we also know that some people love those scents and would want them all the time if given the choice. So we’ve decided to give you the choice! We offer all or our seasonal scents including; Pumpkin spice latte, lemonade, and frozen pine year-round!
You don’t always have to light them to smell them. We use the maximum amount of fragrance soy wax will take to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck in the scent of your candle. So much so that you don’t even have to light your candles to smell them! Many of our customers have told us that when they just want a little hint of scent they just open the candle and leave it unlit.
Things happen, but we do strive to make sure we use a high level of care in our packaging of your items to reduce any chance of damage during shipping. Don’t worry, if an accident does happen and your candle is damaged, we will work with you to make things right!
We don’t try to make our product sound better than it is. We won’t promise a color we can’t deliver, and we won’t tell you things we make “triple scented” candles. This is a claim some make stating that they add triple the amount of normal fragrance oil to their candles.
However, the truth is there's really no such thing as a triple scented soy candle. Soy wax can only hold a certain amount of fragrance oil and if you add more than that the oil will seep the candle and pool on top.
We are a company that believes in openness and honesty. We will always explain the pros and cons of any request we get that we would consider the norm and let you decide where to go with your order.
Our candles are already great, and we don’t need to make things up to sell them. What you see is what you get with our company.
We are The Rambling Magnolia Candle Company and we’d love to hear from everyone about why YOU think our candles are great. Reach out to us anytime via our website, email, , Instagram, or Pinterest!
Soy vs. Paraffin: The BIG Debate!
We live in a world where consumers are paying much closer attention to what their bodies are exposed to both internally and externally.
With the growing popularity of soy wax we receive a lot of phone calls and e-mails from customers who want to know the differences and benefits between soy and paraffin waxes.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad information out on the internet regarding both paraffin and soy so we decided to set the record straight and provide our customers with the facts so that you can make a well-informed decision when choosing the wax that is right for you.
First, let's talk about these two waxes and how they are made before we get into the REAL debate.
Soy waxes are made from soybean oil and can contain other non-soy materials. The soybean oil is separated from the beans by use of a mechanical press or by using a solvent to extract the oil.
The primary step in making soy wax is a process called hydrogenation. Basically, the soybean oil is treated with a hydrogen solution that causes the oil to solidify and create wax.
Every manufacturer has a different process and most of them keep their “recipes” very secretive but the process starts out the same for all of them.
Soy wax is a natural product that has these general properties:
- Non-Toxic – meaning that soy wax is not poisonous.
- Made of either 100% soybean oil or a combination of other non-soy materials (animal products and/or other vegetable products).
- Clean-burning fuel source – meaning soy wax meets several requirements under federal regulations that classify it as clean-burning.
- Colorless – meaning the wax itself does not contain any color and typically appears opaque.
Paraffin waxes are actually petroleum based and are created using crude oil (also known as fossil fuel) which is extracted from the earth.
On a molecular level, crude oil is a mixture of hydrocarbons that were created from the decomposition of plants and animals that lived under water many years ago.
Once extracted, crude oil is sent to refineries where it is then turned into finished products lubricating oil. It is from the lube oil refining process that paraffin waxes are created.
Paraffin wax is a natural product that has these general properties:
- Non-Toxic – meaning that paraffin wax is not poisonous.
- Non-Reactive – meaning that during certain lab tests, the wax did not respond or react to certain stimuli.
- Excellent water barrier – paraffin wax is very good at repelling water and other liquids.
- Clean-burning fuel source – meaning paraffin wax meets several requirements under federal regulations that classify it as clean-burning.
- Colorless – meaning the wax itself does not contain any color and typically appears semi-translucent.
So what's the debate?
The biggest debate we see when it comes to paraffin wax is whether or not it is “bad” for you. You can find plenty of articles online talking about how paraffin wax releases “soot” into the air which is bad for you to breathe in.
That statement is not exactly false, but it's not exactly true either. BOTH paraffin wax and soy wax can create soot depending on how the candle is made and how it is burning.
While the soot is not good for your respiratory system it is, generally, not dangerous; it is the chemicals that the candle is emitting that may be hazardous to your health. Paraffin wax can produce certain emissions that can compromise the air quality in your home.
These may include: alkans, alkenes and toluene which have all been reported to have harmful effects on humans. However the amount of these chemicals that are being released into the air are so minimal that most people are not affected by them.
Contrary to popular belief, soy wax candles can emit chemicals into the air as well. Over 90% of soybean crops in the United States are genetically modified and are grown using pesticides.
Some soy wax manufacturers process their soybean oil to filter out any genetically modified material as well as any “potentially present herbicides or pesticides” (source: www.ecosoyabrands.com).
Not all soy wax manufacturers do this though which means a good portion of soy wax candles have the potential to emit chemicals into the air from herbicides and pesticides.
So now you might be thinking “Oh no! My paraffin and soy wax candles are toxic? What do I do now?” First of all, the waxes are not toxic.
Both waxes have to pass a series of tests and meet certain standards that are monitored by the US government before they can be marketed as a wax that is safe for use in candles. The key is…MODERATION. When it comes to your health, this is the rule for just about everything…
medicine, junk food, alcohol, chocolate…all of these things are fine in moderation.
If you burn your candles in a well ventilated room, with a properly trimmed wick that doesn't kick up a lot of soot or smoke, chances are you will never see any negative effects on your health from candles. However, if you tend to be sensitive to things perfumes or smoke you may have a reaction to candles burning in your home.
We get a lot of phone calls from customers asking, “paraffin or soy…which is better for scent throw?” A lot of people think that the more fragrance oil a wax can hold, the stronger the scent throw will be.
This isn't always true though because the type of wax you use has a lot to do with your scent throw. When you compare the scent throw of a paraffin candle to that of a soy candle, usually the scent throw is stronger in paraffin.
Why? Well, on a molecular level, soy is more dense than paraffin. Because soy is more dense, it requires more heat to burn it up which can take longer for soy to release the fragrance. As the wax melts, the flame’s heat vaporizes the liquid wax which diffuses the fragrance oil into the air.
So, if paraffin burns up easier, it will generally release the fragrance easier making the scent throw stronger or more prevalent.
There is a lot of question over which type of wax will give you a longer burn time.
While there are several different factors that will affect a candle's burn time (wick size, additives in the wax, size of the candle, melting temperature of the wax, etc…) the type of wax you are using will affect your burn time as well.
As previously stated, soy wax is more dense than paraffin and typically requires more heat to burn it up. This means that a soy wax candle would probably burn longer than a paraffin candle.
So, how do I choose?
Now that you are informed about both soy and paraffin waxes, the choice is really up to you! There are benefits to using both types of waxes and it really all comes down to personal preference.
If you decide that you want a clean-burning candle that will give you the strongest scent throw you can get, you might choose paraffin. If you want a wax that is clean-burning, comes from a renewable source, has a great scent throw, and burns longer, soy might be the way to go.
Whether you choose soy or paraffin for your candles, you will be choosing a product that is safe to use, is responsibly made, and perfect for YOU.
(Published 04/16/2018 Blair C.)