Is Soy Wax Chemical Free?

Soy wax is a type of vegetable wax made from soybean oil. It is commonly used to make candles and other products like lip balms, lotions, and soap. Soy wax has grown increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to paraffin wax, which is a petroleum product. Many consumers prefer soy wax because it is made from a renewable resource and is perceived as more natural and environmentally friendly. However, some questions have arisen over whether soy wax can truly be considered 100% chemical free. This article will examine how soy wax is made, its chemical composition, and whether it contains any synthetic additives or chemicals.
Labeling… – Vegetable Wax & Beeswax Candle Making

How Soy Wax is Made

Soy wax is made from soybeans. The main ingredient is hydrogenated soybean oil. Additional ingredients like fragrance oils and dyes may be added as well. The production process starts with soybeans that are cleaned, cracked, flaked and solvent extracted with hexane to produce crude soybean oil. The oil then goes through a process called hydrogenation where hydrogen is added to the oil to improve its performance properties. This hydrogenation process converts the soybean oil into a solid wax.

According to, the hydrogenated soy oil is then purified, blended, and sometimes combined with additives before being packaged and shipped to manufacturers and consumers. The final soy wax products comes in flakes, slabs, pellets or blocks. Each manufacturer will have its own proprietary process and ingredients for making soy wax.

Chemical Composition

The main components of soy wax are hydrogenated vegetable oils. According to the Wikipedia article on Soy Candles, soy wax is made by the full hydrogenation of soybean oil, which chemically converts it into a triglyceride containing a high proportion of stearic acid.

The Safety Data Sheet from ProChemical and Dye states that soy wax is a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acid vegetable lipids. The vegetable oils commonly used include soybean, palm, and coconut oils.

There are no known controversial ingredients in soy wax. It does not contain any petroleum-derived paraffin, making it an attractive natural alternative for candle making and other purposes.

Comparison to Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum and is made from crude oil refining byproducts. It can contain trace amounts of hydrocarbons, which some consider harmful or toxic. Paraffin wax also tends to burn faster and hotter than soy wax, which increases soot production.

In contrast, soy wax is made from hydrogenated soybean oil, a renewable and sustainable crop. Since it comes from plants, soy wax is considered more natural and environmentally-friendly. Soy wax also burns slower and cooler than paraffin wax, producing less soot. According to, “Soy wax emits less soot – up to 90% less.”

Many makers and consumers prefer soy wax over paraffin for these reasons. Soy wax is praised for its clean burn, low soot, and sustainability compared to paraffin wax.

Fragrance and Dyes

Soy wax itself has little to no scent. To make soy candles smell nice, fragrance oils and dyes are commonly added.

The most popular fragrance oils used in soy candles are essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, and peppermint. Synthetic fragrance oils made from chemicals are also common. While natural essential oils are considered safe, some people can be sensitive to them, especially in concentration. Synthetic fragrances have more potential concerns, as the chemical compounds can trigger allergies or headaches in some individuals. Certain chemicals like phthalates and benzene derivatives found in synthetic fragrances may also be toxic.

As for dyes, soy candle makers often use liquid plant-based dyes extracted from sources like beets, turmeric, and hibiscus. These natural dyes are generally not hazardous. More vivid synthetic candle dyes are also available, typically made from petroleum-derived chemicals. There is some debate about the potential toxicity of certain synthetic dyes when burned, as trace amounts of benzene can be released. However, independent testing has found the levels are extremely low and unlikely to pose risks if used occasionally.

soy wax itself has little to no scent, but fragrance oils and dyes are commonly added

One way to mitigate potential concerns with fragrance oils and dyes is to choose soy candles confirmed to be phthalate-free and that use natural plant dyes when possible. Burning soy candles only occasionally or keeping them unscented are other options for limiting exposure.

Testing and Certifications

Soy wax goes through extensive safety testing by reputable candle making suppliers. Major soy wax brands like Golden Soy Wax and Cargill ensure their waxes meet all FDA and EPA regulations. According to CandleScience, all of their soy waxes undergo rigorous testing and are certified Kosher and meet FDA CFR 21 and EU standards for safety.

One key certification to look for is that the soy wax is made from non-GMO soybeans. Unfortunately over 90% of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified. That’s why soy wax suppliers like Golden Soy Wax and Cargill state their soy wax comes from identity preserved non-GMO soybeans. This ensures the soybeans can be traced back to non-GMO sources.

Environmental Impact

Soy wax has some advantages over paraffin wax when it comes to environmental impact. Soy wax is made from soybeans, a renewable resource. Soybeans are grown annually in many parts of the world, so the supply can be replenished year after year ( The production and sourcing of soy wax has less impact on the environment compared to paraffin wax, which is a petroleum product.

One of the biggest environmental advantages of soy wax is that it is biodegradable. Soy wax will break down naturally over time, unlike paraffin wax which can persist in the environment. According to one source, studies have shown that beeswax, paraffin and vegetable-based waxes like soy wax are all biodegradable ( The biodegradability of soy wax means that it does not accumulate in landfills or the ocean.

Overall, soy wax has some sustainability advantages compared to paraffin wax. The renewable and biodegradable nature of soy wax means it has a lower impact on the environment during production and after disposal.

Health and Safety

When it comes to health concerns, both soy and paraffin wax candles can release small amounts of soot and substances like formaldehyde when burned, though paraffin tends to produce more (1). One study found paraffin candles release toluene and other potentially dangerous chemicals, though the levels detected were not considered dangerous (2). In a home setting, soy candles are generally considered safer than paraffin due to producing less soot, but any candle should be used moderately in a well-ventilated area.

For commercial use, soy wax is sometimes preferred for health reasons, though any candle warrants caution. The FDA recommends avoiding prolonged exposure to burning candles in an unventilated environment as a precaution (3). Both soy and paraffin candles should be kept away from children and pets when burning due to a potential choking hazard and fire risk if knocked over.





Myths and Misconceptions

There are some common myths and misconceptions about soy wax. Many people incorrectly believe that soy wax is completely chemical free. While soy wax is made from a natural source, soybeans, it still undergoes some chemical processing. Additionally, fragrance oils and dyes, which are added for scent and color, may contain some synthetic chemicals. However, soy wax contains far fewer chemicals than paraffin wax.

Some of the reasons for the misconceptions about soy wax being completely chemical free include:

  • It is marketed as a more natural alternative to paraffin wax.
  • The name contains the word “soy” which gives the impression that it is purely made from soybeans.
  • Many consumers assume natural ingredients are always chemical free.

While not completely chemical free, soy wax is far less toxic and better for the environment than paraffin wax. But it’s important for consumers to understand that some chemical processing and additives are still used in creating soy wax candles and other products. Being aware of the minor chemical components allows buyers to make informed purchasing choices.


In summary, soy wax is derived from soybeans, a natural plant-based material. However, calling soy wax “chemical-free” is misleading. During processing, chemicals like hexane are used to extract oils from soybeans. Dyes, fragrances, and other additives may also be added to soy wax. When burned, all candle waxes including soy produce some potentially harmful emissions like benzene and toluene. Soy wax does have some advantages over paraffin wax in terms of biodegradability and sustainability if sourced responsibly. But no candle wax is completely “chemical-free.” While soy wax has some benefits, it still contains chemicals both in processing and burning. More research is needed on the emissions and long-term health effects of burning different candle waxes. In conclusion, soy wax cannot accurately be described as “chemical-free.” Marketers should avoid exaggerated claims and instead provide factual information on candle wax compositions.

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