Soy candles are candles made from soy wax, which is a processed form of soybean oil. They are usually container candles, because this wax typically has a lower melting point temperature than traditional waxes, but can also be made into pillar candles if certain additives are mixed into the soy wax.
In candle making circles there are mixed views and feelings about the relative merits of soy and paraffin wax.
The supporters of soy wax will argue that soy candles are cheap compared with their only real natural wax rival – beeswax. Soy wax is a new alternative to paraffin which is not only cost effective but is also made from a renewable source.
Soy wax is all-natural (apart from the necessary additives, of course, which may or may not be natural!) This new wax is a favorite of environmentally-conscious people because it is not made from petroleum, like paraffin candles. Burning of soy candles does not increase the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere.
There are claims that soy candles can last up to 50% longer than paraffin candles. This has never been properly tested and as there are so many variables it remains debatable. Most candle makers will know that the speed at which a candle burns down can depend very much on the size and type of wick used – larger wicks generally give a fiercer and more quickly burning candle.
Wax spills are easier to clean. It’s very difficult to remove paraffin wax from furniture or textiles whereas soy wax spills can easily be cleaned up with hot soapy water. This ease of cleaning up is also a definite advantage from the candle maker’s point of view.
It is argued by some advocates of soy wax that soy candles produce less soot and that what soot is produced is a less harmful white soot. This is still debatable and there seems to be no definitive answer as to the truth of black and white soot!
Scented soy candles distribute more fragrance – The incorporation of soybean oil lowers the melting point of the candle, which translates into cooler burning candles and faster scent dispersion. The lower melting point of this type of wax results in a larger size of the liquid wax pool around the candle wick. It is from this liquid wax pool that the essential oils evaporate into the atmosphere. This argument seems to be logical, so there may be some truth in it.
There is however, no arguing with the fact that soy container candles are very easy to make and if you are happy with a container candle, rather than, for example, a pillar candle, then soy wax is one of the easiest waxes to work with.