When we shop for candles, the aroma and scent are often the first things we consider. However, they shouldn’t be the only considerations we make.
Considering candle safety is really important – and by this, it’s not just the naked flame we’re talking about, but the ingredients of the candle itself.
There are many different candle waxes available, like paraffin wax, granulated wax, palm wax, beeswax and soy wax, and each one has different properties. Today, we’re going to look at soy wax which is one of our favourite waxes here at Scents and Aroma.
So are soy wax candles safe? And, what are the benefits over paraffin wax? The short answer is yes; soy wax candles are safe. In fact, they’re much safer than paraffin wax. But, there are also many more benefits to burning soy candles over paraffin candles, as we’ll detail further in this article.
Are soy wax candles better for your health?
When burning, all candles will emit soot. However, soy candles produce hardly any soot at all because the wax has a much cleaner burn.
Soy is also a great scent carrier, which means there is no need for chemical amplifiers to be added to the wax.
If we compare soy wax candles to paraffin wax candles, the difference to our health is huge. Firstly, paraffin candles are a petroleum product, which means they are made from crude oil.
South Carolina State University carried out a study in 2009 that found that paraffin candles emit benzene. According to The American Cancer Society, benzene is “known to cause cancer”.
There are other toxins and carcinogens contained in paraffin wax too, including toluene, methyl ethyl ketone and naphthalene, which have been compared to diesel fumes.
The study states: “An occasional paraffin candle and its emissions will not likely affect you, but lighting many paraffin candles every day for years or lighting them frequently in an unventilated area may cause problems”.
Finally, some paraffin wax candles incorporate lead to separate the wax from the wick. All in all, with paraffin wax candles, there are a lot of harmful elements released into the air we breathe.
What’s more, the carcinogens that are released by paraffin wax candles have been linked to lung cancer and asthma.
Soybean oil is then extracted from these flakes to turn into soy wax. Since soy is a natural substance, there are no harmful substances released from burning soy wax.
Do soy wax candles let off toxins?
Alongside other vegetable-based wax candles, soy wax candles have been tested and do not release the toxins that paraffin wax candles release.
Anything that is given off when a soy wax candle is burned is much healthier than the toxins from paraffin wax candles containing petroleum carbons, so soy wax candles are much healthier options for people to burn in their homes.
For more information on the differences between all off the waxes have a look at this detailed guide that I wrote.
If a soy wax candle is burned over a prolonged period of time, you might notice a fine and white residue, but this is completely non-toxic and very easy to clean.
Unlike paraffin wax, soy wax is easily cleaned of almost any surface, just with warm water and soap.
Are soy wax candles better for the environment?
Soy wax is derived from a natural plant source. Soy is grown in abundance and is a plentiful, renewable and biodegradable resource.
On the other hand, as we’ve stated above, paraffin wax is made from petroleum and is a non-renewable product.
As well as being from a non-sustainable and non-renewable source, the soot of paraffin wax candles is released into the environment and coats not only the glass of the candle holder but also your furniture, walls, and furnishings.
Finally, soy wax candles burn at a much slower rate than paraffin candles, which means you have a longer-lasting candle.
Safety tips for using soy wax candles.
Whenever you burn a candle, soy or otherwise, there are some safety rules that you need to follow:
- Make sure the candle is on a flat surface with a flameproof mat or holder below. The candle needs to be somewhere away from drafts, children and pets.
- Candles should be lit safely with a long match or grill lighter so that you don’t burn your fingers.
- The candle wick needs trimming to around ¼-inch long. The means that it will stay out of any melting wax. This will also make sure that your candle flame is not too high
- Never leave a soy wax candle burning unattended. Don’t leave the room without blowing out the candle and waiting until the wick is no longer glowing.
- You shouldn’t try and move a candle when it is lit or when the wax is still liquid.
- If you have more than one candle, you need to keep them 3 inches apart, so they don’t cause melting of each other or create drafts.
Compared to paraffin wax candles, soy wax candles are much safer to burn for another reason: they have a lower melting point. Paraffin wax melts between 50 and 70°C since it has a large crystal structure.
Soy wax burns at much cooler temperatures, which reduces the risk of burns if the candle is knocked and the wax spilled. For people in hotter countries, soy wax candles can even melt of their own accord!
To ensure you’re buying a safe candle, you should always check the ingredients. As well as checking that the candle wax is 100% soy wax, you need to look at the fragrance oils used.
Natural oils will give the best scent (but these aren’t used with paraffin wax as they don’t mix well). Be wary of cheap candles that claim to be soy wax. Candles only have to be 51% soy to be labelled as such and are actually soy wax blend, so check that you know what you’re buying.
As we’ve mentioned, soy wax has a lower melting point, which means that it is softer. Manufacturers will often put additives into the wax to make it harder.
Be sure to check the ingredients list to ensure everything is natural – including the colour!
Final thoughts – are soy wax candles safe?
To summarise, there are many benefits to burning soy wax candles over paraffin ones. Soy candles are much safer than their petroleum-derived counterparts for many reasons.
Firstly, they’re safer when they’re burning as they don’t release carcinogens, toxins and soot into the atmosphere.
Secondly, they’re safer for the environment as they come from renewable and sustainable sources rather than fossil fuel derivatives.
Finally, they have a lower melting temperature, which means that the liquefied wax is not as hot.
Soy isn’t the only natural wax that is safer than paraffin. Beeswax, coconut wax and rapeseed wax are a few alternatives that burn cleanly, so you don’t have that worry of toxins being released into the air.
Some reports even say that beeswax candles help to clarify the air! So, if you’re choosing new candles, avoiding paraffin wax and its harmful toxins is easy!
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