Did you know that candles can be created using different types of waxes? Available in a wide range of substances and derived from many natural resources, all kinds of wax can be poured into containers or handcrafted into various shapes and sizes. Basically fuel for your lovely scented candles, wax is designed to melt away and evaporate, releasing an expertly designed fragrance into the air.
So many people ask the question, “What is the best wax for candles?” Here at Itty Bitty Candles we believe soy wax — or at least a soy wax blend — is a good choice, offering a more natural wax that carries a scent for a long time.
However, there are many other types of wax to get to know and consider, so pinning down a definitive answer for the best wax for candles isn’t always a straight answer. There are many reasons why one wax could be more suitable than another. Here are the many different types of candle wax, along with some insight into their advantages, disadvantages and other important considerations.
Paraffin wax is one of the most common candle waxes out there. And for a good reason. Paraffin wax offers lots of advantages, making it a pretty reliable candle wax. For example, paraffin wax can hold a lot of fragrance, casting stronger scents and throwing it farther across a room. Another advantage to paraffin is that it is offered in several different grades, according to its melting point and oil content. This means that it can be molded into all kinds of shapes, from large pillar candles to long, narrow tapered candles to little origami-sized animals. Paraffin wax can also be poured into tins or glass containers.
Another reason paraffin is often used to create candles is that it’s inexpensive. However, being affordable doesn’t always make it the best wax for candles. Paraffin wax is not exactly eco-friendly. A by-product of the crude oil refinement and the oil industry as a whole, paraffin wax is not sustainable. Even though the by-product wax is not discarded, it is only temporary.
Paraffin wax has also been found to emit small amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) toluene and benzene when they are lit, which have been linked to asthma and lung cancer. Furthermore, it can cause respiratory irritation when used in a poorly ventilated space. VOCs aside, paraffin wax will also create unsightly soot.
Generally speaking, when comparing soy vs. paraffin wax, there are several differences. Soy wax is denser and has a smaller crystal structure, whereas paraffin wax has a large crystal structure. Due to this, soy wax is softer and more pliable, whereas paraffin wax is harder and more brittle. Ultimately, this offers one significant advantage: a higher melting point and slower burn time. Soy wax can burn up to 50 percent longer than paraffin, although this depends on factors like candle size, wick height, etc. FYI - Itty Bitty Candles on average burn a good 50-60 hours!
Soy wax is also healthier than paraffin wax. It emits less soot and few toxins. Soy wax, a by-product of soybeans (not crude oil), is a more natural wax alternative. So when you light a soy wax candle, you can rest easy knowing it’s better for your home’s indoor air quality, keeping your family and pets safe. Not to mention, it’s simply better for the earth.
Itty Bitty Candles are created using a soy wax blend that is non-toxic, lead-free and free of plastics, paraben, synthetic dyes and phthalates.
Without the soot and toxins released into the air, soy wax also has a stronger scent profile. While a paraffin wax candle does hold scent better, this also depends on the oil quality used to create the fragrance. A higher-quality essential oil needs only a fraction in soy wax, compared to its paraffin counterpart. Plus, soy wax releases a scent that is more subtle and not too on the nose, letting you enjoy the fragrance far longer without it being overwhelming.
Lastly, since the U.S. is the world’s greatest producer of soybeans, there’s a good chance your soy wax candle is supporting local farmers.
Beeswax is another type of candle wax and one that has been around for thousands of years, even dating back to the Egyptian era. Like soy wax, beeswax is quite eco-friendly and sustainable. Derived from bees and their honeycomb hives, a beeswax candle even gives off a tinge of sweetness into the air. And unlike paraffin, beeswax produces ions, which are thought to purify the air. Beeswax also offers a hard wax substance, which makes it suitable for shaping pillar candles.
Unfortunately, the subtle, sweet aroma of beeswax is also its biggest downside. Beeswax works wonderfully when used in an unscented candle. However, this sweetness isn’t suitable for some candles that offer other scents and may not mingle well or could disrupt the fragrance.
Coconut wax is a relatively new type of wax, harvested from coconuts. Coconuts are considered a sustainable crop and renewable material, unlike paraffin wax. In addition, coconut wax holds a fragrance quite well, making it an excellent substitute for paraffin, or at least offering a way to create a wax blend. Finally, coconut wax can also hold color rather well, making it nice for more decorative candles that lend themselves to your home’s color palette.
Like soy and beeswax, coconut wax doesn't produce much soot and gives a cleaner burn. However, while coconut wax comes from a high-yield crop, coconuts are used for many other things, from foods to beauty products, which drives up the cost of coconuts. So, coconut wax candles are often more expensive.
Wax blends offer the best of two worlds, simply put. Many candle makers and candle brands prefer to use two — if not multiple types — of wax to create their own signature blend that performs exactly the way they want.
Itty Bitty Candles are made of a natural soy/coconut blend. Our candles are rarely dyed with vibrant colors, but we’re okay with that. There’s no need for dyes. Instead, our wax offers an intentionally neutral, creamy vanilla white hue that matches any home decor effortlessly.
Our soy wax blend makes our candles burn strong and not nearly as hot as straight-up paraffin. Reducing the harmful toxins and chemicals put into the air by paraffin wax, our candles are healthier for the home and healthier for you and your family’s lungs, too. No more soot!
So, What Wax Do You Prefer?
Paraffin, soy, beeswax, coconut and beyond — what is the best wax for candles? Like many answers to questions, it’s not that simple. At the end of the day, it’s really and truly a personal preference. And as you can see, each type of candle wax has its benefits and drawbacks.
Candlemakers everywhere have to answer the same question: What is the best wax for candles? At some point, they too have to make a call on what candle wax is best for their image and product. At Itty Bitty Candles, we are more eco-conscious, so we prefer to make our candles with a soy wax blend.
However, candle wax is only a small part of our products and all Itty Bitty Candles are designed to be environmentally friendly and green all-around, from the wick to the container. For instance, our wicks are made of premium cotton and our products are entirely free of lead, plastics, parabens, synthetic dyes and phthalates. And once you burn down your candle, even our containers can be upcycled to hold everything from office supplies to small trinkets and more.
Candles you can feel good about burning.