The candle making industry, like the health food industry, is dominated by rumours and pseudo-science, which are often only half understood, and then passed around as fact. Throughout the past 12 years I have made it my priority to understand the science behind the wax industry, and to sift through all the rumours to find the truth about different types of waxes.
The three most common types of wax used in candle making are Paraffin wax, Beeswax and Soy wax. Each has its own properties which makes it better for different types of candles. Soy wax, for example, is best for scented candles as it ‘throws the scent’ more than other types of wax, however it has a very low melting point, so it tends to drip everywhere if not used in a jar or container. As with wine making, experienced candle makers will blend small amounts of other waxes in with their main wax in order to gain the benefits that the different waxes offer.
We use fully refined Paraffin wax in our candles, and our wicks are braided cotton imported from Germany, and known for their excellent quality. We also add between 5%-10% Palm wax to each candle, which helps the flame to burn steadily and makes the candles appear richly opaque rather than slightly translucent. The Palm wax we source is sustainably produced, and accredited by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
Fully refined Paraffin is non-toxic and burns away almost completely, emitting negligible levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are common indoor air pollutants emitted by a wide variety of household products and building materials.
If you are interested in exploring this topic in greater depth, here are some peer-reviewed scientific articles that compare the different types of candle wax and test for emissions.
2007 Okometric Study – Analysis of Emissions from Paraffin, Soy, Palm, Beeswax and Stearin Candles.
“The study found all of the waxes burned cleanly and safely with no appreciable difference in burning behaviors. Their combustion by-products were virtually identical in composition and quantity…far below the most restrictive of any applicable indoor-air standards.”
“The candle is becoming ever more involved in quality discussions in this environmentally aware time we are living in.
Purity of raw materials as well as harmlessness of the combustion products formed are… important prerequisites for consumer trust in the product.”
1994 Translation Schwind et al – Analysis and Risk Assessment of Raw Materials and Emissions from Paraffin, Beeswax and Stearin Candles.
“The measuring program has shown that the burning emissions of the examined candles do not represent a potential health hazard to the candle user. The burn emissions of the examined paraffin, stearin and beeswax candles show no significant differences with respect to the pollutant classes examined. Candles made from paraffin are toxicologically just as innocuous as beeswax or stearin candles.”
These articles are courtesy of the National Candle Association, which is a committed leader in setting industry standards, and provides excellent resources if you want to explore more about the science of candles.