On this blog we share about home fragrance including fragrant candles. We have learned a lot from our research and what to share with you what we have learned about candle wax. In this helpful guide, you will learn what kind of wax is used to make candles. You will also learn where candle wax comes from. Read on to learn more!
What is a Candle
Candles have been around a long time. Candles are devices that use a flammable wick embedded in wax. When the wick is burned it melts the wax. The liquid wax becomes the fuel for the candle flame which provides light and a little heat. Over the centuries different types of materials have been used as the fuel source for the candle.
What is Candle Wax
Candle wax is a solid fuel source for the candle flame. Wax is a generic term when speaking about candles that can include a variety of materials that have these characteristics:
- Solid at room temperature but liquid under higher temperature
- Primarily a hydrocarbon which is a compound made up of hydrogen and carbon
- Water repellent and does not dissolve in water
- Has a smooth texture and can be formed into shapes
- Does not have a strong odor by itself
History of Candle Wax
The type of wax used for candles throughout history has depended on the availability of the base materials, the ability and cost of changing the raw material into a wax that is ready for candle use, and how well the wax performed compared to other candle waxes.
Tallow is wax made from animal fats. Due to its availability and relatively low cost, tallow was the typical candle wax used in Europe and the Americas until the 18th century. Beeswax candles were available but they were very expensive. Due to the expense, beeswax candles were mainly used in churches for religious services. In the 1700s the whaling industry spurred the creation of spermaceti wax. Spermaceti wax is a clean-burning, low-odor wax derived from the fat from a sperm whale.
Spermaceti was the primary candle wax until the mid-1800s, when stearin wax and then paraffin wax were developed. Paraffin wax was developed as a byproduct of petroleum refining. Paraffin was discovered by chemists looking for a way to remove the naturally-occurring waxy substance. Paraffin then became the standard candle wax in commercial candle making.
During the second half of the 20th century, several synthetic and chemically manufactured waxes, like gels, were developed mainly for use in candles.
Other plant-based waxes were made as well. Soy wax and palm wax were developed for commercial use in the late 1990s.
Paraffin the most frequently used candle wax in the world currently.Beeswax is also used globally, but in significantly smaller quantities. Stearin candle wax is largely limited to Europe.
Soy wax, palm wax, gels, synthetic waxes, and synthesized waxes are also now used in candles. Wax blends and specialized wax formulations are also used in candles.
What is Candle Wax Made From
Candle wax today is made from:
- Soy Wax
- Palm Wax
- Coconut Wax
- Synthetic and synthesized waxes
- Wax Blends
Every kind of candle wax has different properties which making some of them better at holding and sending out fragrance. Other types of wax are more suited for burning slowly and producing a smoke-free flame. It is an art and a science to get the right wax, the right wick, and the right blend of fragrance to make a long-lasting and beautiful candle.
Which Candle Wax is Best
Every kind of candle wax has positives and negatives. It depends on the purpose of the candle and personal preference that will determine which wax is best for the situation. In the sections below I’ll share the pros and cons of different types of wax. Well known candle manufacturers in mainstream retail shops only use high-quality waxes in their formulations.
Which Wax Burns the Longest
Soy wax is considered to burn the longest. There are new developments in wax and candle making all of the time that are advances in burn time. Different proprietary wax blends are formulated to help candles burn more slowly.
There are a lot of factors that determine how long your candle will burn. Where you place a candle, the room temperature, the size and length of the candle wick, the fragrance oils, and the type of container all influence how long your candle will burn. Many candle makers will list approximate burn time on their candles.
What Type of Candle Wax Gives Off the Most Fragrance
Paraffin wax give off the most fragrance. The amount and distance that the fragrance travels in a space from a candle is called fragrance throw or just throw for short.
Paraffin wax may have been the leader for fragrant candles for the past several year, natural waxes such as soy, coconut and rapeseed wax that are more recent introductions to the market are making improvements year after year. The advances in candle and wax making technology and the trend toward natural products, natural waxes will continue to gain in popularity.
Is Candle Wax Toxic
Many candles are made using cosmetic grade or food grade paraffin wax. No matter how good they small, don’t eat your candles or leave them there they may be eaten by children or pets.
Due to the burning or combustion of a candle, all candles, no matter what kind of wax is used, has some soot. Soot is the carbon by product of buying the wick and the vaporized wax. Soot is mainly the result of wick length and flame flicker. You can reduce the amount of soot by correctly trimming the candle wick and be placing your candle in a place where there are no drafts.
Natural waxes like soy, rapeseed, coconut, and beeswax are good choices if you want candles that burn more cleanly. Paraffin is made from the petroleum refining process while these waxes are from plants or bees.
Keep candle wax away from children and pets. Even though wax is safe for adults, children or pets may be tempted to eat it. Some candles smell so good and just like food!
What is Soy Wax
Soy wax is very popular for candle making. Soy was has risen in popularity over the past decade or so. Soy wax was invented in 1996. You can find soy candles in many retail locations.
Soy candle wax is often considered more environmentally friendly in comparison to traditional paraffin wax because soy wax comes from soy beans which is a plant. Soy wax burns slower and cleaner (less soot) than some of the other waxes. Soy wax candles a subtler scent throw or projection because soy wax hold less fragrance than paraffin wax.
Soy wax is a plant-based wax that comes from soybean oil. To make soybean oil, soybeans are cleaned and processed. The oil is extracted from the beans and they go through a process where the fats in the oil are modified. This alters the melting point of the soybean oil. The higher melting point means the processed soybean oil is now solid at room temperature. Now the soy wax can be poured into candles.
Soy Wax Blend Candles
Soy wax is sometimes blended with other waxes to get the benefit of the best attributes of both waxes. Soy wax is often blended with other plant based waxes like coconut wax or palm wax.
What are the Benefits of Soy Wax Candles
There are a number of benefits of soy wax candles.
- Soy wax is slow burning. This means that the candle will last longer.
- Soy beans come from plants. They are natural, renewable and biodegradable.
What are the Drawbacks of Soy Wax Candles
Soy Wax candles are made from soy beans. Soy beans are often made in mono-culture farms and many soybean farms use chemicals to raise their plants. There are concerns about the use of pesticides and fertilizers. If you want to avoid this concern, there are some soy wax candles that are organic. Organic soy wax candles are made from organically grown soy beans where no inorganic pesticides or fertilizers are used.
What is Coconut Wax
Coconut wax has become really popular in recent years. I see coconut oil, coconut butter, and lots of other coconut products in the market place. Coconut wax is more expensive that other types of candle wax. Coconut wax has superior fragrance throw or the ability for the candle fragrance to fill a room.
Coconut wax comes from the processing of coconut oil. Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts harvested from the coconut palm tree.
Coconut wax has a creamy texture. It is a soft white wax. Most coconuts are grown organically and coconut farming is a sustainable practice.
What are Some of the Advantages of Coconut Wax
- Coconut wax candles burn slowly .
- The hot and cold scent projection or scent throw of coconut wax is superior
- Coconut wax is less harmful to the environment
What is Rapeseed Wax
Rapeseed wax may have the worst name ever! Rapeseed wax is made from rapeseed oil. The word for rapeseed comes from a Latin word rapum which means turnip. Rapeseed oil comes from the canola plant. Canola oil and rapeseed oil are very similar. Canola can be framed in a sustainable way and Europe uses canola oil in their biodiesel.
Rapeseed wax is a new alternative to soy wax. The benefits of rapeseed wax is that rapeseed can be grown locally. Rapeseed wax burns relatively slowly and has good scent projection.
What is Paraffin Wax
Paraffin wax is very common in candles because it retains color and fragrance very well. Paraffin is a product of the oil industry. Paraffin wax is readily available.
Some people do not like paraffin wax bad because it’s made from the petroleum refining process. Just because it comes from petroleum does not mean that it’s toxic. Paraffin is used in a lot of foods and in cosmetics.
What are the Benefits of Paraffin Wax
- Paraffin wax holds it color and fragrance. For this reason it is used in many luxury brands.
- Paraffin wax is easily obtained. You can often find paraffin wax in your local grocery store because it is often used in canning and preserving food.
What is Beeswax
Beeswax candles have been around for eons. Beeswax is found naturally from bees. Bees make wax as part of their hive building activity. Beeswax naturally smells like honey. Since beeswax has that natural fragrance, it is often not used by itself in scented candles. Some makers of scented candles will mix a little beeswax with coconut wax or soy wax to firm up the texture of their candles.
Beeswax can be molded or rolled out into sheets. Rolled beeswax candles have their own unique beauty and natural fragrance.
Benefits of Beeswax Candles
- Beeswax is a natural product
- Beeswax can be sourced in a sustainable way
- A market for beeswax will support beekeepers and help to keep bee populations healthy and thriving.
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