Which Wax is Better? The Great Debate Pt 1 – Soy Wax

Happy Sunday everyone!

Today I’m talking about waxes. If you burn candles, you either burn whatever smells the best, or you have some idea about what wax candle companies use. Up until the age of 15, I couldn’t care less what I burnt, so long as it smelt good. But as my love for candles grew, and I started spending my hard earned part-time-job money on them, I realised that some performed better than others. Why was that? Did it matter if it was cheap or expensive? Was it the fragrance or the wax?

So today, I want to help some of my readers understand the difference between the waxes, pro’s and con’s, and where to spend your money. This post will be split in to three parts, because I have a LOT of ground to cover! I’ll start with maybe the most popular and well known of the waxes: Soy wax.

(Before I begin, please note: my thoughts and this post come entirely from my own experience as both a candle burner and candle maker – yes, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. This information comes from articles I’ve read over the years, and my own personal experiences and research. As always, make sure to do your own research to make an informed decision of what is best for you!)

Soy-Wax

Soy wax is probably the better known of all the waxes, as it is continually advertised by companies in order to boost sales. Why is that you ask? Soy has a very strong stigma of being the ‘best’ and ‘cleanest to burn’ wax, so naturally, companies use this as an advertising point.

Soy wax is made entirely of; you guessed it – soy beans! These beans are de-husked, cleaned, cracked, and rolled in to flakes. Then, from the oil that is produced, through the handy help of science and hydrogenation (turning a liquid in to a solid) – we get soy wax! Some key elements of soy wax: it has a low melt point, is best for jar candles as it is the softest of the waxes, and almost always comes in pellets or flakes (as seen above).

So why is Soy Wax meant to be so good?

As a candle maker, soy wax is lovely to work with. It sets up quickly, is the easiest to clean off your bench/floor/everything you own, and melts at a lower temperature when adding in fragrance and colours (which is the safest in terms of burn risk, less temp = less burnt skin). As mentioned above, it is also known to be the cleanest burning. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with this myself, but it makes a strong selling point for a lot of companies. It is, however, totally renewable!

As a candle burner, I can’t say soy is my favourite ever. It does melt down quickly which means you start getting scent throw faster, but it is almost always weaker. Some companies do a damn good job of working soy, and the scent throw is good. However, I have always found it to have less throw. Why is this? Two reasons: Firstly, soy wax cannot hold as high of a percentage of fragrance to wax as some other waxes. All waxes have a limit, and if you over-do your fragrance load, you end up with fragrance oil that is not properly absorbed and can bead up on the top of your candle. Not only is this bad for visual reasons, but it’s a serious fire hazard. The second reason being that it just doesn’t burn as hot. For some types of candles (such as massage candles) this is perfect. However, when it comes to filling my home with fragrance, the low burn temperature engages less with the fragrance oil (which is activated by heat), and leads to lesser scent throw. Now this can depend on the quality of oil and the makers skill too, but in most cases, it’s straight up the wax.

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Some pro’s and cons of soy:

Pros:

  1. It burns evenly throughout its life. Jar candles tend to have a nice, even burn, and are consistent down to the bottom of the jar with little wax residue.
  2. You can own ‘massage candles’ which means if the wax and additives are natural, and you are burning your candle to an oil, you can use the liquid as a moisturiser! (I must stress, do not just buy ANY candle and do this – you will hurt yourself!! But a lot of companies make these and they are fabulous).
  3. It is easy to clean up if you accidently spill any melted wax on your bench.

Cons:

  1. It is never quite as strong in scent throw as other waxes.
  2. Soy candles are more expensive to buy, and sometimes, do not perform as well as cheaper alternatives.
  3. Soy wax is no safer or cleaner than other waxes (this will be addressed further below).

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My thoughts on soy:

Do I recommend it as your only choice of wax? No, always experiment with all types. I find the industry to do my head in with the excessive advertising of clean and safe wax. No wax is better than the other to inhale or for the environment.

Soy wax is often bleached due to its natural colouring, and 90% of the time has other chemical additives to strengthen it’s weaker points (such as how soft it is). I’m certain a lot of smaller companies do not add things in to their wax in order to alter it, but a lot of those same brands do not research how the wax is altered before they buy it from their suppliers. Companies also use synthetic candle fragrances to scent their candles, which is another non-natural additive. Even if the purest of soy, and the most organic essential oils are used, along with a soft cotton wick, you will still be inhaling soot and fragrance.

All. Wax. Soots. I bet you’ve seen companies advertising their ‘soot free candles’ and naturally if it has no soot, it must be good for you. But were you aware that soot isn’t just black? It can be entirely white/clear, so you may not have noticed it until now. Not to mention, sooting occurs most often when a) wicks are not trimmed and b) your flame is being hit by a draft, disturbing the flames shape. Sooting occurs from the flame, not just the wax, and any candle company worth its money will advise that in order to minimise this, you must trim your wicks and keep your candle in a draft free area. Soy wax is prone to white soot, so it looks better in the jar and on your walls, but it’s there and has the same effect. Not to mention, some soy candles get black soot too, again this is a result of burn technique.

At the end of the day, studies constantly come out telling us something else that is bad to inhale. All synthetic products can’t be good to inhale, and at this rate, burnt toast could give you a deadly disease according to 60 Minutes. So if you are choosing to burn candles in your home, any wax choice will not be any better or worse for your health, unless you don’t burn anything at all.

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So, I’ve harped on in a more negative tone about soy, but why should you give it a chance?

I get a little worked up over people who claim that soy is totally safe to inhale and will never do any damage. It’s totally up to individuals to make a decision on if they believe soy is the best or not, and that should be through scientific evidence and well written educational articles. And I can appreciate that people really do believe that, and I’m glad that people have found a wax that works for them. What I can’t appreciate is candle brands and makers putting down those who make or burn other waxes just because it isn’t soy. It’s not fair to bash anyone without strong scientific proof, and I feel that it’s a very personal decision for each person to make. No matter the wax, you should not be judged!

I love soy candles for a multitude of reasons, one of the biggest being that sometimes a lesser scent can work for you. I’m not going to burn a whopping big, strong candle in my bedroom or I’ll give myself a migraine. Soy candles are usually enough to well scent my room, but not overdo it. It can also be a little bit safer in case it spills or some curious little creatures touch the wax. Not to mention, some companies mix it with other natural additives (like coconut oil) to enhance burn and fragrance.

Not only jar candles, you will also get soy melts. Melts are used in a tealight burner most often and you usually do not see these in other wax types. Melts can make a really lovely gift and with the right burner, are a beautiful visual addition to your home.

All in all, soy is a lovely wax to burn. You wont get the strong scent that others give, but some companies have figured out the secret formula to making a relatively strong, soy candle. It’s fantastic if you’re just beginning your candle burning life, and can be a lovely gift for others who are new to burning (think your neighbour, or mum) as it’s not too over powering and they may appreciate the natural labelling.

Who to buy from? Soy wax candles in Australia.

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Ecoya: I am a huge fan of Ecoya candles. They’re available in a huge range of places for a sniff before you buy, and burn very well. I also adore their diffusers, if you’re in the market for one! Available at: http://www.ecoya.com/

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Burn Baby Burn Candle Co: this has been one of my favourite brands to work with. They have an awesome range of candles (I love the little bit badass typography collection), and they burn exceptionally well. Plus, the scents are super delicious (I recommend the musk!). Available at: https://www.burnbabyburncandleco.com/

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Tanda Modern: This brand is ridiculous guys – in an awesome way! They have some really amazing, really different candle vessels and their products are always on point. I’m yet to pick up one of the wooden candle jars but that’s next on my list of must haves! Find them at: http://tandamodern.com/

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Chloe Jane Candle Co: The owner of this company promotes a very positive, bubbly, love yourself vibe – and the candles match! A full range of fun colours and scents, blended with coconut wax/oil, makes for a delightful burning experience. You can purchase at: http://www.chloejanecandleco.com.au/

If you know of an awesome soy wax brand that kills it, let me know! I’m always on the hunt for the perfect candle in every demographic. On that note, I hope this post has helped you to know a little more about soy, and stay tuned for the next instalment.

Have something I should write about? Comment below!

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