What is Candle Wax Made Of?
In this article, we are going to take a very close look at all the different types of candle wax, how it is made, how popular it is and some of the pros and cons of them. Since candles have been around for such a very long period of time, we will have quite a bit of materials to cover. Each type of candle wax will be listed in bold and a description of that type will follow, explaining the most common things about it. As with all of our posts here at Believe You Candle, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through the contact us form or through the comments section below, especially if you are dealing with about what is candle wax made of!
Organic Candle Wax
Basically any candle wax that is derived from a means that does not use genetically modified organisms, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or hormones in the growing of the raw materials. While the term organic is used in a very broad way, in reference to the different types of candle waxes, it is used to describe the processes that were used in growing the raw materials used in the making of the specific candle wax. There is quite a bit of controversy in the world of candles regarding statements made by certain candle manufacturers on whether their stated “Organic” candle is actually organic. According to some resources out there, obtaining organic raw materials isn’t as easy as you would think and a lot of times, you would have to take the manufacturers word for it. I mean, how would you actually prove the materials are organic? Travel to the wax manufacturers plant? Submit samples to a testing laboratory? These methods could very well be done, but would require quite a bit of money.
Natural Candle Wax
A natural candle wax also refers to the process of making the type of wax used in certain candles. Usually when someone refers to a candle as being natural, they are talking about how the materials used in the candle were obtained, processed and used in the manufacturing of the candle. Natural candle wax typically is obtained without the addition of synthetic processes, the addition of chemicals, additives or preservatives and can actually come straight from nature, like in the form of beeswax. As for soy wax, there is quite a bit of contention on whether these are actually considered natural due to some of the steps required in processing it, like bleaching. In my opinion, if a wax requires this kind of processing, it would fall out of the natural wax category. The same thing can be said about Palm wax since this also requires a process of separation using temperature and pressure, or in short, human intervention. This pretty much goes against the whole definition of being obtained naturally. I believe some manufacturers will use these terms loosely for advertising benefits and while a candle may not be in the natural category, it still may fall under the organic category. To me, all natural candles would be considered organic candles while not all organic candles could be considered natural due to the manufacturing process.
Paraffin Candle Wax
Paraffin candle wax is a specific type of wax created by the processing of oil shale, coal or petroleum and contains a certain mixture of hydrocarbon molecules. It has been one of the most common forms of candle wax that originated in the 1850’s. They are initially an odorless candle with a off white color but certain manufactures may add fragrance and dyes to give a specific scent and color. Even though the wax is produces from oil, coal or petroleum, it is considered harmless and is approved by the FDA. In the world of today though, you will find a whole different side of the coin regarding the harmful effects of paraffin wax candles. During my research, I found quite a lot of people stating paraffin wax candles will kill you! After reading through the resources, of course a lot of the concern was actually based on the type of wick used in paraffin candles which may have contained lead. The fumes emitted from the melting of the paraffin, being a petroleum byproduct, could cause health situations I would think, if your snorting the candle for hours on end. As with anything produced by large companies or even different countries, certain things can be added to the product that can cause harm and you should always check where a product is made or check out the company that makes the product to insure how safe it is. Since a lot of the candles on the market today are manufactured outside of the United States, they lack the oversight and regulation restrictions that can lead to the manufacturing of a cheaper product that can actually cause you harm. Paraffin candles are considered to be the longest burning candle depending on which resources you look at.
Soy Candle Wax
Soy candle wax is created by the processing of soy beans. The wax is derived from the oil created in the processing of the soy bean. Depending on the process of growing the soy beans and whether pesticides, hormones, synthetic fertilizer or GMO’s were used, soy candle wax can be referred to as an organic candle wax. Personally, I wouldn’t bet on it though since it would cost more money not to use those procedures. The soy wax candle was invented in the early 90’s and is generally considered pretty new in the candle industry. They are becoming a very popular material used in candles today. Soy candle wax is considered very safe as with most candle wax materials. Again, no matter what material the wick is made from, inhaling anything coming from a burning flame is not a very healthy thing to do, but the fumes emitted from the melting wax are considered harmless and sometimes may contain scented fragrances to add to the over all effect of the candle. Many people believe that the toxic scare related to paraffin candles was actually instigated by the soy bean manufacturing companies and may be true. Soy candles are said to burn quicker than paraffin candles, but as with anything, you have to consider the source.
Beeswax Candle Wax
Beeswax used for candles is considered one the most natural and organic materials used today. The process involves the harvesting of the bees wax created when bees deposit the wax from their bodies and make the actual honey comb hives. The oldest candle was found in a German graveyard which dated back to the 6th-7th Century AD. Considering the manufacturing processes of the different types of candle wax, beeswax is relatively one of the more expensive materials to make. It is a definite favorite candle material to the organic or natural crowd of society and still sees quite a bit of popularity to the normal candle crowd. The burning of a beeswax candle is considered safe and falls under the same categories as any of the other candles. In recent times, the beeswax candles seem to be getting more and more popular and may be due to the paraffin toxic scare. The beeswax candle supposedly burns the quickest when compared to the paraffin and soy candles. Due to some honey content in the wax, these candles are typically non-scented.
Palm Candle Wax
Palm candle wax is created by the processing of palm tree fruit. The process involves pressing the fruits to create the oil which is then heated and pressurized to create the vegetable fat or palm wax. Palm wax is considered a very high renewable resource since it is derived from palm trees and require plantations to produce instead of coming from petroleum like paraffin. As with soy, as long as no GMO’s, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and chemicals are used, they are considered organic. There are quite a few palm fruit plantations around the world and some of them are certified as being organic or for using certain agricultural practices that are favored. There is much contention as to the sustainability of palm wax since the process requires plantations of palm trees, this has led to the deforestation of large areas in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is getting harder and harder to find suppliers who sale palm wax candles because of this. They are considered safe burning candles but are not classified by the FDA or EPA that I could find. As for the burning time compared with other candles, I found some resources that said they burned longer than the others. The palm candle wax has a very distinct crystalline pattern that can be used to easily identify it. It is said that the palm wax was developed in the early 90’s outside of the United States during the new candle boom that was happening at that time.
Bayberry Candle Wax
The bayberry candle is a candle that came about during the colonial times of America and made from the bayberry fruit of the Northern and Southern bayberry bushes native to North America. The bayberry wax making processes involves boiling the fruit and skimming the wax from the surface. It is a common wax used by hobbyist and homemakers due to its manufacturing simplicity. The bayberry candle wax actually contains its own fragrance and usually isn’t scented with other fragrances. No information could be found concerning any unsafe side effects of burning bayberry candle wax or how long the candles burned compared to others. The bayberry candle isn’t as wide spread as other candles but can be found in specialty stores.
Tallow Candle Wax
Tallow candle wax was a product of the early days in the history of candles and was made using animal fats. This type of candle wax is not really used today, except in very poor areas of the world due to the horrible smell and deterioration of the wax over time. Over time as new forms of wax were found or invented, the tallow candle wax was used less and less. Since these types of candles can’t really be found today, there really isn’t any information on side effects (which I can image would be bad), the burning time or the actual origin of the tallow candle wax. I am sure this type of candle originated from the earliest forms of human existence in which we talked a bit about in our post about “Who invented candles”.
Blended Candle Wax
Typically any candle that contains more than one kind of wax would fall into this category. Coconut Candle wax which is usually mixed with soy wax is a common blended candle wax. It is usually mixed to increase durability and to increase its melting temperature. The bayberry candle wax listed above is also commonly mixed with other waxes to increase burn times, to decrease the manufacturing costs or increase its durability also. Usually manufacturers will provide blended candle wax to increase certain properties of their candles like burn times, durability, looks or manufacturing costs.
Thank you for visiting our What is Candle Wax page and we look forward to hearing from you! Of course I will be updating this page if and when I find any new or incorrect information!