Soy vs Paraffin Wax Candles

The Definitive Answer – Just Facts – No Myths

Below we site factual information so you can make up your own mind, and always site our sources.

Candle Myths

  • Paraffin wax is toxic. False
  • Soy wax is water soluble. False.
  • Soy wax is biodegradable while Paraffin wax is not. False.
  • Candles made with “natural” ingredients are safer. False.
  • Soy candles do not soot and paraffin candles cause soot. False.
  • Soot from candles is harmful. False.

Source: The National Candle Association, the governing body of candle manufacturers in the United States.

The National Candle Association (NCA) is the major trade association representing U.S. candle manufacturers and their suppliers. Founded in 1974, NCA acts as the collective voice for the candle industry in promoting the safe use and enjoyment of candles, pursuing product excellence through quality formulation, monitoring and responding to issues impacting the industry, and advancing the industry as a whole. The National Candle Association is widely recognized as the leading technical authority on candles and candle manufacturing. Its member companies account for more than 90 percent of all candles made in the United States.

Candle FAQs

Source: NCAs frequently asked questions web page.

Q. Are certain candle waxes better than others?

No. All types of candle waxes perform well, and will burn cleanly and safely when they are of high quality. U.S. candle manufacturers select waxes or blends of waxes based on their suitability for specific types of candles or formulation profiles, as well as their own candle-making preferences.

Q. Is paraffin wax toxic?

No. Paraffin wax is non-toxic. In fact, paraffin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in food, cosmetics, and medical applications. Food-grade paraffin is commonly used for manufacturing candles.

Q. What causes a candle to smoke, and what can I do to correct it?

A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. However, if the wick becomes too long, or an air current disturbs the flame's teardrop shape, small amounts of unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame as a visible wisp of smoke. Any candle will soot if the flame is disturbed. To avoid this, always trim the wick to ¼ inch before every use and be sure to place candles away from drafts, vents or air currents. If a candle continually flickers or smokes, it is not burning properly and should be extinguished. Allow the candle to cool, trim the wick, make sure the area is draft free, then re-light.

Q. Is candle soot harmful?

No. The minuscule amount of soot produced by a candle is the natural byproduct of incomplete combustion. Candle soot is composed primarily of elemental carbon particles, and is similar to the soot given off by kitchen toasters and cooking oils. These everyday household sources of soot are not considered a health concern, and are chemically different from the soot formed by the burning of diesel fuel, coal, gasoline, etc.

Q. Are candles made with "natural" ingredients or essential oils safer?

A natural ingredient, as opposed to a manufactured or synthesized ingredient, is not necessarily any safer. In fact, scores of natural ingredients are known to be extremely toxic to humans in very small amounts. NCA members are committed to manufacturing candles that use ingredients known to be safe and approved for use in candles, whether "natural" or synthesized.

Q. Is my candle biodegradable?

Probably. Studies have shown that beeswax, paraffin and vegetable-based waxes are biodegradable. The vast majority of candles today are made primarily from these waxes.

Q. Are vegetable-based waxes water soluble?

No. By definition, a wax is not soluble in water.

Soy Wax Faqs and Fiction

Soy Candles are More Healthy. Fiction.

Soy wax candles are not 100% natural. Chemicals are added to the byproduct of soy to make a waxy substance and even more chemicals are added for the soy wax to be able to hold fragrance oil. Fragrance oil is not a natural substance, so if the soy candle has fragrance in it, it is even further from being 100% natural. Even soy candles made with essential oils are not “all natural” because the wax is chemically produced from a soy bean. The soy bean does not come out of the ground ready to melt down for a candle.

Soy Candles Don’t Soot. Fiction

Anything with a flame has the potential to soot, it is not the wax that makes a candle soot. It is the improper wicking and manufacture of the candle and the improper burning procedures. A properly created candle that is properly maintained, will not soot.

There is no such thing as a soot-free wax. All organic compounds when burned will emit some carbon (soot) due to incomplete combustion. Sooting is primarily a factor of wick length and disturbance of the flame's steady teardrop shape. Source: National Candle Association

It is possible to avoid soot by burning ‘healthy’ candles. Fiction.

Sources of soot that the soy wax industry has forgotten to mention:
Fireplaces (soft wood produces more soot than hardwood) but both real wood and artificial logs produce soot, water heaters, furnaces, standing pilot lights, cigarette smoke, incense, cooking byproducts, automobile exhaust, diesel exhaust, garbage trucks, tractors, bulldozers, coal-fired power plants, oil refineries, chemical factories, cement kilns, paper mills, copper smelters, silicates, iron oxide, cellulose and cotton, dirt or clay, pollen and carbonates (typically found in airborne dust), common grease, oil lamps, kerosene lanterns, torches, nicotine, the burning of jet fuel (airplanes), improperly burning or igniting heating systems (whether fired by gas or oil). In apartment buildings near traffic or with below-grade (below ground level) garages, light-colored carpeting may acquire patterned soot stains from automobile exhaust, especially along outside walls and near door thresholds to common halls. Also gas appliances, frying raises many oils above their smoke temperatures causing soot. Anyone living near interstate highways or industrial sites gets lots of soot through their HVAC system. The burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas produces soot. Most of the world's soot now comes from burning biomass. Half is from open burning of fields and forests. Thirty percent comes from residential use of coal, firewood, and dung. Ten percent comes from diesel vehicles.

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