Soy and Paraffin Wax
Take Your Pick
In earlier days, when electricity was still an unborn entity; candles would rule the roost. Wax was the major player and people would keep inventing new ways of creating wax. Now, we have the LEDs and CFLs and yet, we cannot replace the mystique and charm of candlelit dinners or the prowess of votive candles and tea-lights.
Dominating the scene
Paraffin and soy wax have long dominated the candle scene. They are as different to each other as chalk and cheese and yet they help create the same product, the candle. Paraffin is carved out of petroleum while Soy is hydrogenated oil.
There are certain areas where Paraffin makes a better case. Its fragrance is enchanting to many; even if it is not natural. It gels well with all sorts of fragrant oils and dyes. It is quite versatile; something which perhaps comes owing to its petroleum extraction.
Problems with paraffin
There are a few problems though with paraffin. The biggest factor is its origins from a non-renewable energy source. This leaves a conscientious burden on users. Also, it burns pretty quickly. Despite being the cheapest wax, it does have the drawback of more soot. As you burn paraffin you will see soot build up on the side of the containers, or heavier “smoke” coming from the wick.
Soy, meanwhile, is extremely cheap and burns much longer. It may gel only with a few quality fragrances and dyes but does sketch a decent picture there. It has an innate aroma of its own, which many find to their liking. It is biodegradable, which is a great battle won from paraffin, and it yields very little soot.
Problems with soy
The main problem with soy wax is its reluctance to fuse with dyes. When adding dyes, you will usually end up with a pastel color. Also, a good number of people are allergic to soy, so there is another issue to contend with.
Manufacturers, buoyed by the upsurge of soy candles a few decades ago, gave birth to several myths to further their cause. They suggested that it is a dream for health, when it is actually hydrogenated oil. Also, they were vocal on the fact that soy candles are pure, when there is actually a good amount of hexane involved.
Using Paraffin and Soy Wax
During candle making, wax plays a prominent part, but it is not the only factor. The fragrance oils and dyes should be well matched. The wax should gel with them smoothly. You also have to maintain the proper temperatures for using the wax. Paraffin, for instance, comes in two varieties, high-melting and low-melting. The point of difference is 130° F. Votive candles are made from the high melting paraffin while tea-lights from the low-melting paraffin. We have already mentioned how paraffin is quite versatile.
One school of thought is that by using soy candles, we boost the US economy, as soy is a lot more organic than paraffin. Point taken! However, the US deals extensively in petroleum as well. It all depends on your environmental views. It is also good to note that with the new synthetics for making paraffin wax, there is little difference in the carbon output between soy and paraffin wax.
There is little chance that paraffin wax will ever fall from the market as it is amazingly cheap, even with the fact that it may be faster burning than soy. Its versatility and adjustability with different fragrances and oils is almost legendary. You just have to ignore certain disadvantages and paraffin is a decent choice for candle making.
Soy also makes its claims rather loudly, riding high on the near soot-less mechanism and long-burning effects. That it erupts out of farming labor cannot be contested. Still, it is awkward to cut the wax debate by resorting to where the wax comes from. After all, it is all slated to burn to the wick.
This has just been a quick little intro to some of the differences between soy and paraffin wax. There are also palm wax, beeswax and many other to choose from, though not as popular. Even if you just stick to one type of wax, you will need to consider the various blends depending on the type of candle you choose to make. That’s just too much to get into right now. So check out our other articles on the specifics of each wax and make the best choice that fits your needs.
Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and please leave a comment below with any comments or questions.