Benefits of Soy and Beeswax Candles
While picking up an order of candles recently from Shire Fire Candles, I mentioned to Grace that I was going to do a blog post on paraffin candles vs. safer alternatives such as soy and beeswax. She grinned from ear to ear and then nodded her head up and down a bunch of times. Say no more I thought, this girl understands exactly why she's making soy candles.
So what exactly is the difference? A candle is a candle is a candle, right? Well not really. Paraffin candles are petroleum based. If you look at the definition of paraffin it describes it as "whitish, translucent, waxy solid consisting of a mixture of saturated hydrocarbons, obtained by distillation from petroleum or shale". From what I've read, it takes a bit of work to get the crude oil or its waste products into the form of paraffin. It first goes through a chemical purification process, is de-colorized with absorbents and has additives mixed in to reduce the scent, which is similar to kerosene. As if burning petroleum products in your house isn't enough, you're now burning chemicals too.
If you look at soy based candles, their base is, well, soybeans. Soy wax is made from harvested soybeans, then beans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes. The oil is then extracted from the flakes and hydrogenated. Now you certainly wouldn't want to eat hydrogenated soybean oil, but for burning in a candle it's a much better base to work from as it's a much cleaner, non-toxic burn and its a renewable resource. Another benefit, the candles burn longer than paraffin candles do.
Many soy based candles are scented with essential oils or fragrance oils, or a combination of both. Shire Fire has committed to using fragrances without phthalates, which have raised health concerns recently.
Want even more natural? Well, that's where beeswax comes in. Completely natural and made by the bees themselves as a by-product of their honey making. Pure beeswax has a subtle, clean honey aroma and generally comes without fragrances. There is anecdotal evidence that the candles help with allergies and release negative ions into the air. As far as burn times go, the beeswax will provide a burn time as good as the soy candle, if not longer.