Are Soy Candles 100% Soy?

What Are Soy Candles?

Soy candles are candles made from soy wax, which is a processed form of soybean oil. Soy wax is a vegetable-based wax made by hydrogenating soybean oil, producing a wax that is clean burning and eco-friendly.[1]

Pure soy wax candles are rare, as most soy candle manufacturers blend soy wax with other waxes like paraffin or beeswax. This is done to modify the melting point and burn characteristics. A typical soy candle contains 60-100% soy wax.[2]

The natural properties of soy wax allow for excellent scent throw and aroma delivery in candles. Soy wax also burns cooler than paraffin, resulting in less soot and residue. Overall, soy candles provide an eco-conscious, clean-burning alternative to paraffin candles.

Soy Wax Basics

Soy wax is made from soybean oil. After harvesting, the soybeans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes (Source). The soybean flakes are then crushed and subjected to a solvent extraction process to separate the soybean oil. The oil goes through a hydrogenation process which converts the unsaturated oil molecules to saturated ones, turning the soybean oil into a solid wax.

A typical soy wax blend contains 80% pure soy wax and 20% other vegetable oils like palm, coconut, or sunflower oil. The added oils help modify the melting point and burn properties. They also allow the soy wax to hold fragrance oils better. The resulting soy wax blend offers an eco-friendly, clean-burning, and customization candle making material (Source).

Benefits of Soy Wax

soy wax flakes before candle making

One of the key benefits of soy wax is that it is natural and biodegradable. Soy wax is made from soybean oil, a renewable resource. This makes it more environmentally friendly than paraffin wax, which is a petroleum byproduct. After burning, soy wax will biodegrade unlike paraffin wax which can linger in the environment (source).

Another advantage of soy wax is its lower melting point compared to paraffin wax. Soy wax melts at a temperature between 115-135°F whereas paraffin melts between 130-150°F. This lower melting point allows soy wax to liquefy at lower temperatures. As a result, soy candles typically have a better cold and hot scent throw than paraffin candles (source). The wax pool of a soy candle will also reach the edges of the container more quickly.

Other Oils and Waxes Used

While 100% soy wax candles can be found, many candles are made from a blend of different waxes. Common waxes blended with soy wax include:

Paraffin Wax – This petroleum-based wax is commonly blended with soy wax. Paraffin wax helps soy wax burn longer and stronger, while soy wax makes paraffin wax burn cleaner. Typical paraffin-soy blends range from 10-30% soy wax mixed with 70-90% paraffin wax (Source).

Palm Wax – Palm wax, derived from palm oil, is sometimes blended with soy wax to improve adhesion and viscosity. Palm wax can make up 5-15% of a soy wax blend (Source).

Coconut Wax – Coconut wax is blended with soy wax to help with frosting and scent throw. Up to 20% coconut wax may be added to a soy blend (Source).

Fragrance Oils

Fragrance oils are an essential component of soy candles, providing the scents that make candles so appealing. While 100% soy wax has a neutral odor, fragrance oils contain synthetic fragrances and/or essential oils that give candles their distinctive smells.

Most soy candle manufacturers use a blend of synthetic fragrances and essential oils in their fragrance oils. Synthetic fragrances are artificially created in a lab to mimic natural scents. They allow for consistent, cost-effective scents that hold up well when heated by a candle flame. Essential oils are derived from plants and provide more natural fragrance options like lavender, peppermint, and citrus. However, essential oils are generally more expensive and delicate than synthetic fragrances.

Popular fragrance oil options for soy candles include fruity scents like apple, citrus, and berry, floral bouquets like jasmine and rose, herbs and spices such as cinnamon and mint, and cozy scents like vanilla, coffee, and pine. The fragrance oils are blended into the soy wax when the candles are manufactured.[1][2][3] When burned, they release their scents into the air to create ambiance and aroma.

While fragrance oils are a key component of scented soy candles, most contain between 5-10% fragrance. So the remainder of the candle is still natural soy wax, allowing the candles to retain many of the benefits of soy over paraffin wax.

Wick Materials

Common wick materials used for soy candles include cotton, wood, and paper. Cotton wicks are a popular choice as they provide an even, consistent burn. The braided construction of cotton wicks helps the melted wax to climb up the wick and fuel the flame. Many soy candle manufacturers opt for cotton core wicks specifically formulated for soy wax.

Wooden wicks made from bamboo or wood pulp add a subtle crackling sound as the candle burns. Some people enjoy this ambient effect. Paper wicks offer a thin, rigid core for an upright flame. They are inexpensive but may produce more soot than other wick types. The wick material affects the size and brightness of the flame, as well as how quickly the melted wax pools.

Manufacturing Process

Making soy candles involves several key steps:

First, the soy wax flakes are melted down in a large melting tank or double boiler. The wax is heated to temperatures between 135-145°F to fully liquefy the wax and allow proper mixing. Higher temperatures can scorch the wax.

Next, fragrance oils and dye are added and blended into the melted wax. Thorough mixing ensures even distribution of fragrance and color.

The liquid wax is then carefully poured into containers, usually glass or tin. Wicks are inserted into the center as the wax is poured. Cooling racks are used to allow the candles to fully set up.

Curing follows, whereby the candles sit for 24-48 hours. This allows the soy wax to fully solidify and the fragrance to stabilize within the wax. Proper curing produces candles that burn evenly with maximum fragrance throw.

After curing, the finished soy candles are trimmed, labeled, and packaged to be sent out to market. Quality inspections help ensure each candle meets specifications.

Quality and Purity

When looking for a high-quality soy candle, check that it is made from 100% soy wax or has a very high soy content. Many candles advertise themselves as “soy candles” but actually contain a blend of soy wax and other waxes or oils.

True 100% soy wax candles will be made entirely from soybean oil without any paraffin wax or other additives. According to Lit & Co., their soy candles contain 100% soy wax harvested and processed in the USA (source). The soy wax has a natural pure white color and clean burn.

Other reputable candle makers also use 100% soy wax or a soy wax blend with a very high soy content, typically 90% or higher. Always check the ingredient list and product details to confirm the soy wax percentage before purchasing.

Opting for 100% soy wax or a high soy content candle will provide you with the full benefits of soy wax like an eco-friendly option, cleaner burn, and less soot.

Benefits Over Paraffin

One of the main benefits of soy wax candles compared to paraffin wax candles is that soy wax is a natural, renewable, and biodegradable resource. Paraffin wax, on the other hand, is petroleum-based and derived from crude oil refining. Some key differences include:

Soy wax is made from soybeans, a renewable crop grown annually across the world. Paraffin wax is made from non-renewable fossil fuels that take millions of years to form underground. Soy wax comes from plants that absorb carbon dioxide while growing, helping reduce greenhouse gases. Paraffin wax production and burning releases more carbon emissions.

As a plant-based wax, soy wax is biodegradable and breaks down through natural processes. Paraffin wax is not readily biodegradable if spilled or disposed of improperly. Soy wax is also non-toxic, while paraffin wax can release small amounts of carcinogens when burned.

Soy wax is considered a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative for candles. Supporting the soy wax industry helps reduce dependence on petroleum products. The renewability and biodegradability of soy wax makes it a popular choice among environmentally-conscious consumers.

Finding 100% Soy Wax Candles

When looking for 100% soy wax candles, it’s important to check the details from the manufacturer to verify the purity of the soy wax used. Many candle makers claim to use soy wax, but may blend it with other waxes or oils. To ensure you’re getting 100% soy wax, look for confirmation from the company.

Reputable soy candle brands like Sixty One 20 and O’Soy Candles prominently advertise that they only use 100% soy wax and offer soy wax products like candles, melts and tart warmers. Searching specialty sites like these where soy wax is their signature product can help find authentic 100% soy options.

You can also look for details like “100% soy wax” or “pure soy wax” on the product description, indicating no other waxes or oils are blended in. When in doubt, contact the company directly to ask about their soy wax purity before purchasing.

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