So you’re browsing through the scented candles and wax melts, taking all those beautiful fragrances in. You see that some are made of soy wax and others paraffin wax. You wonder; what’s the difference? Does it even matter what kind of wax it is if my house smells like lavender and lemongrass?
Well, even if you’re not an enthusiast of wax melts or candles, you’ll sooner or later come across the great debate of soy vs. paraffin. Both are essentially wax material, commonly used for making candles, wax melts, and sticks. However, they come from very different sources, and therefore, have different properties.
Of course, all those lovely smells come from the oils, but the wax, as the carrier, makes a big difference. So you’re about to get the wax melt 101, starting with the two types of wax.
Soy wax comes from soybeans (surprise, surprise!). It’s actually made from soybean oil squeezed out of the beans. This oil is then turned into a solidified form through the process of hydrogenation. So it can also be simply considered hydrogenated soybean oil.
While soy is the main ingredient of this wax, there can be other non-soy ingredients as well. The production method can vary by manufacturer, as there’s a lot of experimentation when it comes to wax melts, especially those made with soy wax.
The other ingredients may or may not be vegan. But usually, soy wax does not contain any kind of toxic materials. In its purest form, it doesn’t really have any colour and appears pale.
Paraffin wax is a byproduct of crude oil (petroleum). It comes from a waxy substance obtained from the oil called slack wax. Particularly, this wax is a byproduct of the lubricant manufacturing process.
So paraffin wax is essentially a synthetic product made from fossil fuels. It goes through several levels of refinement before the final wax is produced and used for candles and melts today.
Soy vs. Paraffin: The Ultimate Comparison
Now that you know what soy and paraffin wax are and how they are made, let’s move to the burning or rather melting question at hand, which one is better?
Let’s compare the two to see where each one shines more:
The biggest difference between the two is their very source. As soy wax comes from soybeans, it’s completely natural and plant-based. In fact, soy wax was found as an alternative to paraffin waxes, which have been around longer.
Paraffin, on the other hand, is derived from petroleum, so it’s a synthetic product. Now, as you already know crude oil and its byproducts don’t really enjoy a good reputation considering how their production impacts the environment.
Now, you’re probably wondering how can a small wax melt impact the environment. Well, it’s the impact the oil industry as a whole has on the environment that’s alarming. And whether you like it or not, that small wax melt or candle with paraffin is ultimately part of that.
Also, soy wax is sustainable as soybeans are not a finite resource; it’s renewable. Oil, on the other hand, is limited on this planet.
Melting Point and Burning Time
For today’s price-savvy consumers, purchases are all about value. And that’s a good thing!
So naturally, you’d want your wax melts or candles to last longer. While there are multiple factors affecting the overall burn time, there’s not much difference between the burning time of soy wax and paraffin wax. That said, soy wax has a lower melting point than paraffin.
Yes, it will melt slightly faster than paraffin, but the fragrance will usually last quite long. Also, the lower melting point of soy wax, which is normally between 120℃ to 160℃, is beneficial during winters. You don’t have to wait too long or increase heat to melt the wax.
Soot and Toxins Emission
Paraffin wax is known to release soot in the air, which is why paraffin is usually considered ‘bad,’ so to speak. In comparison, soy wax emits considerably less soot.
Soot is basically impure carbon particles that disperse in the air when wax burns. While it’s bad for several reasons, it’s not a major health risk.
What you should be more concerned about is toxins found in waxes that release into the air when they burn. Paraffin can produce certain toxins, including carcinogens, that can lower the quality of air and impact health in the long run. There’s not extensive research on this, but the toxins are well-known.
On the other side, soy wax produces markedly fewer toxins, and none of them are carcinogens.
All that said, quality wax melts, especially those made of soy, usually go through strict quality and safety tests to ensure they don’t release toxins into the air. So it just comes down to where you’re getting your wax melts from.
If you’re one of those people who are at this point just wondering why are we discussing wax when the main concern should be fragrance, you’re not alone. Let’s be honest; not many of us pay attention to the composition of the wax and only care about the fragrance.
Fragrance pretty much depends on the oil, like the quantity and quality of oil in the wax melt. However, wax does play a small role in just how intense or long-lasting the fragrance is. Soy wax is denser, so it usually takes a little bit longer to release the fragrance.
Some oils may not work that well with soy wax, and for that reason, wax melts and sticks made of soy wax have very particular fragrances.
It looks like soy wax does have the upper hand when compared with paraffin wax. It’s all-natural, eco-friendly, and burns slightly longer than paraffin-based wax. Oh, and you would be surprised to know that soy wax is cheaper too.
So if by now you’re a fan of soy wax melts, try Scent-Sational’s Wax Melts, available in an exquisite range of fragrances to suit every mood and personality. These melts are made from a pure blend of soy wax and come in several beautiful styles.