What's better - soy candles or paraffin candles?

Today, candle consumers are more conscious of their candle's environmental impact. While a great mentality and positive trend, sometimes, using 'green' ingredients and natural sources doesn't necessarily mean that one candle is substantially better than the other.

For years, the candle community believed that most types of soy wax candles were healthier, burned cleaner, and creating them was better for the environment when compared to traditional paraffin candles. However, we can show you how misconceptions foster soy wax candle hype and that paraffin and soy wax (especially soy blend scented candles) aren't necessarily better than each other.

The soy market is not as eco-friendly as some say "Is soy wax organic? Is soy wax biodegradable?" With the combined area of France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, soy farms are no small operation. The World Wildlife Fund helps publish many scholarly articles that detail the harmful ecological effects of biodegradable substances like soybeans and soybean farms

.Many of our most ecologically diverse environments are also home to some of the most devastating soybean farms. In South America, we've demolished portions of the Amazon and Cerrado to make room for larger farms.

As a result of deforestation, the carbon sequestration rate increases; carbon sequestration is how foliage and trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Soybean crops cannot absorb enough carbon dioxide to justify their expansive territories.

We've heard these cautionary facts before. Global warming and severe climate change could be on the horizon if soybean producers don't manage supply and demand efficiently.

Soil erosion, decreased water availability, contemporary farming chemicals, monocultural farming, and even human displacement are adverse effects that we experience as direct results of overfarming.

That's not to say that these environmental detriments are exclusive to soybean farms. To make paraffin wax, farmers extract petroleum and dewax light-lubricated oil stocks.

Burning oil, primarily petroleum products, isn't healthy for our green planet. Petroleum is mainly a mixture of various hydrocarbons, damaging our atmosphere and ozone. One advantage of biodegradable substances in the environment is that production techniques burn fewer fossil fuels.

It is up to your candle maker to ensure that their providers, resources, and production methods are as sustainable as possible, rather than what wax they choose to sell. Distinguishing between biodegradable and nonbiodegradable pollutants is critical in maintaining as minimal environmental impact as possible.

While there is no concrete answer for "is paraffin wax eco friendly?" We recommend finding local candle makers that communicate their sourcing and production techniques.

Soy wax misconceptions vs. paraffin wax
Here are some interesting facts about candle wax and a few of the most common misconceptions about soy wax and how it compares against paraffin wax:

Soy wax burns cleaner
If you source both your soy and paraffin candles from the same candlemaker, there should be no difference in the candle's burning behavior. Many factors influence candle byproducts. The National Candlemaker Association solicited several research studies diving into this topic dating as far back as 1994 and as recently as 2021.

The research studies cover everything from evaluating the gaseous particle emissions of various candles to analyzing their risk to humans with health conditions. We highly recommend you give a few of them to read to observe the empirical data for yourself.

Soy wax burns longer
Some may read this article thinking, "why do soy candles burn longer?"
Soy wax is denser than paraffin, requires more heat to burn, and burns longer. However, wick size, wax additives, candle size, wax melting temperature, and many more factors contribute to a better burn time. Soy candles typically last longer in head-to-head burning tests against paraffin wax candles. The Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society published a research paper in 2002 that directly compared the combustive qualities of paraffin and soy wax. They also investigated the gaseous byproducts of the black soot on candle wicks and soot deposition. Another great read for our fellow candle enthusiasts.

Soy wax emits better scents
The notion that soy wax has better' scent throw' has been around just as long as the candles themselves. However, in the research paper we mentioned and many more, researchers compare the 'scent throw' of paraffin candles soy candles.

The paraffin wax bested the soy wax a majority of the time. As we mentioned before, soy wax is denser than paraffin wax. Since soy wax requires more heat to burn, it takes longer to release the fragrance.
As paraffin waxes melt, the fragrance diffuses into the air. Paraffin candles have better aromatic potential as they burn with less resistance and release the fragrance sooner.

Soy wax is better for our general health and health conditions
There are dozens of sources online arguing that paraffin wax releases more soot than soy wax, making them 'unhealthier' and more likely to cause respiratory reactions.

Again, we refer to a research paper written by chemists and scientists. Found on the National Candle Association's website, these scientists dove deep into the gaseous emissions of various candles.

The experimenters did their best to facilitate a burn rate of 3.5g/h across various candle waxes. They measured over a dozen emissions from these candles, analyzing the nanoparticles emitted in the soot of multiple candle waxes.

The researchers concluded, "For the unscented candles, [we can determine] that the fuels palm, paraffin, soy, and stearin behave very similarly in terms of emissions. No individual showed to have consistently better emission profiles than the others.

"We encourage you to read these papers for yourself to observe the detailed experiments and the results.

'Organic,' naturally-occurring and renewable candle ingredients sound great for us and our environment from a surface level. However, it is essential to consider the ramifications of large-scale farming, its adverse effects, and the additional ingredients blended with soy to create candles.

While Paraffin wax isn't much 'greener' than good soy candles, there are ways for candle enthusiasts to ensure they purchase eco-friendly products.
Your candle maker is your ticket to obtaining healthy and environmentally conscious candles. Please do some research and identify how your candle maker sources, ships, and uses its ingredients and what exactly they put in their candles.

Of all the aspects of ethical candle-making you may be mindful of moving forward, the debate of paraffin vs. soy wax shouldn't hold as much weight as it did before.