Paraffin Wax Candles vs. Soy Wax Candles

Several years ago, amidst all the rage about soy wax, we were on the brink of changing our intention candles from paraffin to soy. We even had a biochemist, nutritionist, and a few environmentalists help us in our research. After a two-month study of the impact of paraffin vs. soy, we made our decision to stay with paraffin for our candles because there wasn’t a significant enough difference. We are aware that our view is not the popular one, but it is based on solid research and not simply industry "studies" that can often skew results in the favor of an interested party.

Here is a quick list of our deciding factors:

  1. All reports referenced in the media were tracked back to the study that was financed by the soy wax industry. We were only able to find two independent reports on the toxins released from soy and paraffin candles. The independent reports showed less than one part per million difference in the toxins released from the different waxes. They used unscented wax with the same cotton wick.

  2. Soy wax is soft and requires a container to be a candle. All soy wax pillar candles are a combination of soy and paraffin. Companies that are claiming to produce soy wax pillar candles are not divulging that they combine paraffin with it to make it hard. When we interviewed soy wax suppliers around the country to find a soy pillar candle with no paraffin they all concurred: the product does not exist.

  3. Fragrance: More toxins are released in a poor-quality fragrance than are ever released from burning paraffin candles. At Coventry Creations, we work closely with our perfumer to make fragrance blends that are not toxic to the environment. There are even essential oils that, used in quantity, release toxins into the air. Knowing that this is a bigger health impact than the type of wax we use in our intention candles, we keep our percentage of fragrance to wax at a level that smells great, but will not induce an immediate allergic reaction.

  4. Smoke: The amount of smoke that comes from a candle is determined by the amount of fragrance and the size of the wick. Large candles, even when they have a properly balanced wick-to-candle diameter, will smoke. Soy wax candles also smoke and, although the industry claims that the smoke is white, many have experienced those candles producing black smoke.

  5. Paraffin: This is a natural by-product of the oil industry. As long as there is oil, there is paraffin. Before the candle industry took off, paraffin was dumped or warehoused by the oil companies. The rise of the candle industry has turned the sale of paraffin into a money-making venture for the oil companies, so they are no longer dumping it. Crude oil is never pumped for paraffin; paraffin is created to keep the oil pure. They extract 99.96% of all crude out of wax and, if they could get that last 0.04%, they would. Using a by-product that would otherwise be thrown away is called recycling and we’re proud that we are contributing to that.

  6. Soy: Soy and corn are the most over-farmed crops in the world. Soy wax comes from industrial farming (Monsanto GMO crops) and not from the independent farmers. Actually, some soy used in wax comes from countries where they do not have the same restrictions on pesticides and GMO crops as they do in the USA and Canada. We have spoken to farmers who have been put out of business by large, corporate farms whose (among others) major crop is soy. When soy wax is made, there is a high percentage of soy solids that don’t go into the wax. This by-product is fed to cattle as an abundant and cheap feed. There are studies being done on the impact of overfeeding soy to cattle and the ramifications of genetic manipulation carried out on cows to enable them to handle that much soy in their diets.

  7. The cost of making soy wax: Just like making ethanol, there is a cost to making soy wax and the energy required to grow and process the wax does not compare to the potential fossil fuel savings of using a soy candle. Keeping things in perspective, starting your car one time puts more fossil fuels into the environment than burning a candle every day for a year.

  8. Cost: Soy costs two-to-three times more than paraffin and requires special handling. Soy wax cannot be reused and recycled in production as paraffin can, causing much more waste and using more electricity to pour the candles properly.

This information only scratched the surface of what we uncovered and, shockingly enough, the effects of soy on the human body are even worse. Coventry Creations is not anti-soy; we have done our homework and have made sure we know the pros and cons of the materials we use.