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Waxing lyrical about wax - which candle wax is best for your needs?

Your foolproof and unbiased guide to choosing the right candle for you.


2 bowls of wax, one white and flaked, one creamy and pellets.
Which wax is best for you?

There are 2 types of candle lovers in this world, those who are very particular about which wax is used and those who don’t care as long as it smells amazing. While there are the, ever popular, soy and paraffin options nowadays you can also use coconut, beeswax, rapeseed and even olive oil waxes. So which one is right for you? Read on to find out the pros and cons of the most frequently used waxes and which candle wax is best for your needs.



A simple white pillar candle with steady flame
Paraffin wax pillar candle

Paraffin

Frequently labelled toxic, unnatural or sooty there is little love out there for paraffin wax. However, there is a lot of misinformation and there are many benefits to paraffin wax candles. 


Eco credentials

Paraffin is a byproduct from the petroleum industry so in one respect it is making use of materials that may otherwise go to waste. However, as it is derived from crude oil, a non-renewable energy then ultimately it is not a sustainable option.


4 nodding donkeys on the oil refinement process. Extracting petroleum for paraffin wax
Nodding donkeys on the oil fields

Benefits

Paraffin is a hard wax which means it is perfect for beautifully shaped pillar candles. This also means it has a higher melting point so it burns brighter than natural wax.


Drawbacks

However, its hard nature means that it is more prone to tunnelling than natural waxes which are softer and thus more forgiving. It does also have a tendency to be sootier than natural wax. Because it burns brighter it means it will burn through more quickly so whilst generally being cheaper than natural waxes, you get less burn time.




Soy

A bowl of soy wax, a wick and a finished candle
Soy wax and candle

The wax of choice for most indie candle brands, soy has many positive attributes but it is important to note there are many soy blends and soy manufacturers out there and all are definitely not created equal.


Eco credentials

Although the soybean is a natural and therefore renewable source, it is not without its footprint. Huge swathes of the Amazon are being deforested to make way for soy plantations.While much of this is for cattle feed it is important that eco conscious consumers check the provenance of their soy candles.


A soybean pod hanging from a plant
Soybean Pod

Benefits

Soy is slower burning than paraffin which means it lasts longer and will produce a warmer glow. As long as it has been wicked correctly it should burn more cleanly than paraffin - this will be most noticeable if you keep your candles below a picture on the wall (moving the picture will show you how dirty or clean your candle burns).


Drawbacks

Soy wax can be a more expensive raw material so expect to pay a little more for your soy wax candle. Soy is also prone to frosting when exposed to extreme temperatures. This won’t affect the quality but it can sometimes ruin the lovely creamy top you usually get with soy.

 



Coconut wax in a coconut shell with candles
Candles made with coconut wax

Coconut

Another increasingly popular natural wax option is Coconut. This colourless and odourless wax is very soft and so often will be blended with another wax to give it a more solid form.


Eco Credentials

Coconuts are a high yield crop. An average coconut tree lasts around 80 years and can yield 100-200 coconuts a year making them a plentiful crop. Additionally they grow abundantly in tropical countries meaning they are not linked to wide scale deforestation and they can be produced pesticide and GMO free. Interestingly this wax is a by-product of the coconut oil industry therefore utilising a resource that would otherwise be wasted. However, as the popularity of coconut products continues to grow it is difficult to say that the attractive eco credentials of coconut wax will remain.


A grove of coconut trees at dusk
Coconut Grove

Benefits

One of the standout attributes of coconut wax is the powerful scent throw (throw meaning how much the scent permeates your space).This is true of both its hot throw (lit) and cold throw (unlit). Coconut wax burns slowly meaning like for like sized products will last longer than soy. Coconut wax is soft meaning a low melt point so you are rarely left with wax on the sides of the jar.




Drawbacks

The low melt point of the wax makes it difficult in warmer climes as it is prone to melting. The production process for coconut wax is prolonged - the meat is removed from the husk before being hydrogenated, filtered and cleaned. The consequence it that coconut wax is more costly than other waxes.



Rapeseed

Candles made using rapeseed wax and wooden wicks
Rapeseed wax and candle

One of few European produced waxes, rapeseed is a newcomer to the scene. However, with its impressive eco credentials and its decent throw it is becoming a more attractive option for candlemakers.


Eco Credentials

Rape is a crop which is harvested throughout Europe including the UK meaning its carbon footprint is low.


A field of bright yellow rape wuith blue skies
A field of rape

Benefits

A low melting point contributes to its cleaner burn and scent throw.


Drawbacks

There are some anecdotal suggestions that Rapeseed wax can be an irritant to those who are sensitive to pollen allergies. Although this has yet to be scientifically verified.



Beeswax

Lots of pillar candles made with beeswax
Beeswax candles with distinctive honeycomb pattern

One of the oldest choices for candles, Beeswax is a little different to the others with it’s distinctive colour, texture and smell


Eco Credentials

Unsurprisingly with the natural process involved in creating this wax and promotion of Bee populations this wax probably has the most attractive eco credentials of them all.


Pros

This wax has a natural scent which is pleasing, albeit subtle, without the addition of fragrance. Beeswax candles are thought to have air purifying properties due to the release of negative ions. However, the scientific credibility of this claim is inconclusive as there is limited research.


Bees on a wax honeycomb making honey
Beehive honeycomb

Drawbacks

Beeswax is very expensive and therefore candles using this will cost more than a similar sized one made with a different natural wax. Also Beeswax don’t make great scented candles as they don’t hold added fragrance very well.







Conclusion

Here at the lab we’ve gone for a Cocosoy blend which combines the eco credentials and awesome scent throw of Coconut wax whilst getting more stability and less melting due to the addition of Soy wax. Whichever option you choose for your candles I hope you feel like you can now make a fully informed choice!


Stay bougie,

Caroline x



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