How To Choose a Candle For Your Home – A Guide To The Different Types of Candle Wax

Today’s blog post is about candle wax.

Don’t we love the warming feeling coming from watching the flickering of a candle flame enveloping the room with its sweet, warm colours and a delicate – and preferably natural- scent?  Well, today, I am writing about the different type of candles wax and about the fact: all candles aren’t equal and it is not just about colour, scent, and shape. 

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Scented Candle in a Jar by H&M Home – Made of blend wax: Paraffin 80%, Plant wax 20% (source).

You may find an interest in this other article too:  My Top Luxury Scented Candles

Disclaimer: I am a candle lover but I do not work in the candle-making industry and below you can find some links for further readings. This is a high-level definition of each type trying to remain as neutral as possible with the home well-being in mind.

The importance of good quality wax

The type of wax used in a candle – along with its purety/quality- is a very important quality factor of a good candle. The reason why a manufacturer would choose one wax type or a wax blend vs others is complex.

It depends on a multitude of factors. The ingredients and cost being the most important. However, it is not just one key ingredient that matters most, it is about all of them: colour composition, use of synthetic fragrance or natural scents, type of moulds, type of candle vessel and its size. Candle making could be compared to baking: it is all in the ingredients, the proportion and the know-how of the baker. Although trying to eat a candle isn’t recommended. 

The types of wax material

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Skandinavsk Candle uses a vegetable wax blend with 20% or less paraffin (source) – Image credits: nest.co.uk

Paraffin Wax: Used in most popular modern candles. This type of wax is being shied from following a South Carolina University Study (source) finding that paraffin wax releases toxic fumes when burnt similar to those found in diesel fuel fumes. However, the study also admitted: “…it would take many years’ use to risk health.” There is a lot of talk on the blogosphere and internet about paraffin wax which I invite you to have a look at if the topic is of interest just bear in mind some are purely subjectively and opinion based… Paraffin wax is known for keeping the smell of a scented candle stronger for longer. It is by far the cheapest wax option. Paraffin is not from a sustainably sourced wax. 

Soy Wax:  It is a natural,Chemical-free*, vegetable wax made from renewable material: soybean oil. There are no toxins, carcinogens or pollutants. Long lasting compared to paraffin. Supposedly less likely to trigger allergies. This wax popularity has risen in the last decade thanks to its natural properties compared to paraffin wax. Chemical-free*
     *providing it comes from GM-free soybean production.

Stearin Wax: This is one of the most modern wax material and is not always easy to know its origin as it can be made from both animal and vegetable fats. Stearin wax is made of renewable material. These are to be prefered to paraffin wax as they do not emit the same toxic fumes.

Soy blend wax: A blend of soy vegetable wax usually mixed with paraffin wax. It is often found in good quality candles. 

Beeswax: Made from beehive. It is a natural and Chemical-free wax. It naturally cleans the air by releasing negative ion when it is lit. Beeswax candles are very long lasting compared to paraffin candles. Little to no smoke is produced by a beewax candle. Even unscented they defuse a slight honey scent which is perhaps its best and purest form. 

Coconut wax: A natural, chemical-free vegetable wax.  It is considered one of the most eco-friendly choice. And who doesn’t love natural coconut ? 

 

 

About Natural and Organic wax.
Even natural ingredients need to come from a responsible source. It is important to look for the fair trade eco-friendly quality label. RSPCO for Palm Oil use. For soy, the sustainability aspect is still unclear (see kpmg study below), so you would probably need to rely on the product description information.

About candle wick
Prefer a candle that uses pure cotton, paper or wood wick. Some candles wick are found containing lead and metal and this is, of course, bad for your health. As far as I understand, there is no legal requirement for the manufacturer to declare the origin of their wax in the EU so it is best to be inquisitive directly to the brand manufacturer and ask clearer labels for more transparent information.  

About scent: Natural vs Synthetic fragrance
Most luxury Scented Candles are composed of a mix of natural organic scents and/or synthetic fragrances scents. Luxury Scented Candles are composed of a mix of natural organic scents and/or synthetic fragrances scents. A very few candle maker offer only natural organic scented candles. By natural organic scent I mean they come from a form of essential oil extraction (distillation or others) from natural organic elements. It could be petals, citrus peels, wood pieces etc. Options are limitless in terms of species or where they come which results in almost esoteric scent definition. Like for a perfume creating a scented candle is something quite artistic. Natural Fragrance as I was told by a store specialist are 3 dimensional, they change over time and can reveal different facets. Natural fragrances are also very precious because it takes a huge amount of organic elements to create the essential oils and therefore is one of the reasons these fragrances are expensive. On the contrary, synthetic smells are very constant and reliable and yes more affordable as they are produced in large qualities and can benefit from production scale savings. Once again for scent, it is a personal preference. I personally like natural fragrances the most. 

As a conclusion, I would say that candle wax is an interesting component of candle making and that a candle is definitely not just colour, shape and scent. Finally, even if some candles aren’t good for your health, remember that living in a city with car traffic (and their gazole, diesel fuels emission) is more likely to increase lung cancer risk than the occasional candle at home. One can argue that you cannot control that aspect of modern life yet you can control the type of candle you bring and lit at home. I would have to agree with that. 


Thanks for reading!
Hope this was helpful. Feel free to pin any photos or share this blog post on facebook if you found it useful.
Marlene

 

Further reading: 

https://www.idhsustainabletrade.com/uploaded/2016/11/KPMG-Roadmap-to-responsible-soy-2013.pdf

https://www.postconsumers.com/2013/01/25/the-eco-truth-about-candles/

https://www.candlescience.com/learning/what-is-soy-wax

https://www.cbi.eu/sites/default/files/market_information/researches/product-factsheet-candles-europe-home-decoration-textiles-2014.pdf

100% natural biodegradable wax and an unbleached cotton wick from Ashley & Co

100% natural wax scented with only essential oils – Image Credits: neon.co.uk

 

Urban Apothecary offers a “natural soy wax – source – Picture is mine
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