Is There Any Danger In Soy Candles?

Soy candles have become increasingly popular over the last few decades. The modern history of soy candles dates back to the early 1980’s, when candle makers began experimenting with vegetable-based waxes as an alternative to paraffin wax. Soy wax was invented by Michael Richards in the 1990’s as a renewable and environmentally-friendly wax made from soybeans (

The use of soy wax allowed candles to burn longer and cleaner than traditional paraffin candles. Soy candles gained significant popularity in the 2000’s as consumers became more concerned about using natural, sustainable products. Today, soy candles account for a large share of the candle market due to their many benefits over paraffin. Their rise has led to innovations like coconut-soy blends and increased availability across stores and online shops.

Benefits of Soy Candles

Soy candles have become increasingly popular in recent years for a variety of reasons. Some of the main benefits of soy candles include:

Made from a renewable resource – Soy candles are made from soybean oil, which is a renewable resource grown by farmers. This makes soy candles more sustainable than paraffin wax candles, which are made from petroleum (Source).

Biodegradable – Soy wax is biodegradable, meaning it will break down in the environment over time. The metal and glass containers can also be recycled (Source).

Non-toxic – Soy candles burn cleaner than paraffin wax candles and do not release carcinogens or toxins into the air (Source). This makes them safer for indoor use.

Long burn times – The natural texture of soy wax allows soy candles to burn slower and longer than paraffin candles. Soy candles can burn up to 50% longer (Source).

Available in many scents – Soy wax holds fragrance oils better than paraffin wax. This allows soy candles to be infused with a wide variety of scents (Source).

Potential Dangers of Soy Candles

While soy candles are often marketed as a natural, non-toxic alternative to paraffin wax candles, they do come with some potential risks and dangers that should be considered.

Allergies and Sensitivities

Some people may have allergic reactions or sensitivities to the soy proteins in soy wax, which can cause symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, or skin irritation when soy candles are burned (Healthline, 2022). Those with soy allergies should avoid soy candles or burn them only for short periods.

Soot Formation

Though less than paraffin candles, soy candles can still produce some black soot when burned. This soot results from incomplete combustion and can dirty walls, furniture, and surfaces (Candles by Luma, 2022). Trimming wicks regularly and avoiding drafts can help minimize soot.

a soy candle burning in a holder and producing a small amount of black soot around the wick

Unpleasant Odors

The natural scent of soy wax can be unpleasant to some when burned. Also, poor quality soy wax or wicks may produce foul or fishy odors (Pantry Fuel, 2022). High-quality soy wax and wicks are important for pleasant aroma.

Wick Issues

Cotton wicks are recommended for soy candles, as other materials may clog or bend and produce more soot. Wicks should be kept trimmed to 1⁄4 inch to prevent smoking, tunneling, or mushrooming (Candles by Luma, 2022).

Fire Hazards

Like any open flame, soy candles can pose fire risks if not used properly. Never leave burning candles unattended, keep away from flammable materials, and avoid drafts that can cause rapid, uneven burning (Healthline, 2022).

Allergies and Sensitivities

Soy candles can potentially trigger allergic reactions or sensitivities in some people. This is mainly due to two components found in many soy candles:

Soy Allergies

Soybeans contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions in people with soy allergies. Reactions can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms may include itchy skin, hives, runny nose, or digestive troubles. More severe reactions can involve throat swelling, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. People with known soy allergies should avoid soy candles, as the soy wax and proteins can become airborne while burning.

Fragrance Allergies

Many soy candles are scented with artificial fragrances. These added scents often contain a mixture of chemicals and essential oils. People with sensitivities to certain smells or with fragrance allergies may experience headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, or other symptoms when burning scented candles. Those with known fragrance allergies should stick to unscented varieties or soy candles made with only natural essential oils.

Testing a small amount of soy wax or a briefly burned candle can help identify any allergic reactions before purchasing or burning soy candles. Those with soy, fragrance, or other common allergies should take precautions to ensure soy candles are allergen-free before use in their homes.

Soot Formation

One of the main advantages cited about soy candles is that they produce less soot than paraffin wax candles. The soot produced when a candle burns comes from incomplete combustion of the wax and wick. Soy wax has a lower melting point and burns cooler than paraffin wax, making it less likely to produce soot (4). However, soy candles can still produce some black soot if the wick is too large or long (2).

To prevent soot, it’s important to keep the wick trimmed to 1⁄4 inch as it burns down (1). Long wicks cause the flame to become too large, resulting in incomplete wax burning and more soot (3). It also helps to keep the candle out of drafts which can make the flame flicker and smoke (2). Using a candle holder that catches dripping wax can reduce soot as well.

The main safety concern with soot is that it can discolor walls and surfaces where candles are burned. Soot particles are very fine and can penetrate deeply into materials like fabric, carpet, and drywall. Too much soot buildup over time is difficult to remove and can even pose a fire hazard (5). However, the low amount of soot produced by most soy candles is not dangerous if used properly (6).




Unpleasant Odors

Soy candles can sometimes produce unpleasant odors while burning due to the natural oils in soy wax. According to aroma experts, the main causes of unpleasant odors from soy candles are:

  • Burning the candle for too long – This can cause the wax to overheat and produce a burnt or rancid smell.
  • Improper wick trimming – Wicks that are too long or uneven can cause sooty, smoky odors.
  • Old or low quality soy wax – As soy wax ages it can develop off-putting scents.
  • Essential oil reactions – Some essential oil blends can morph into unpleasant smells when burned.
  • Foreign contaminants – Dust, perfumes, cooking smells can alter the soy candle’s intended aroma.

You can prevent unpleasant odors by following usage and care tips from candle makers like Out of Darkness Candle. Best practices include:

  • Trim wicks to 1⁄4 inch before each use to minimize smoke and odor
  • Allow melted wax to fully pool before extinguishing to prevent smoldering
  • Keep wicks centered while burning to prevent wax overheating
  • Store candle with lid to block foreign odors from being absorbed
  • Choose quality soy wax blends less prone to morphing scents

Wick Issues

One common issue with soy candles is having the wrong wick size. As explained by Candle Science, “If the wick is too large, the wick will consume too much fuel too quickly, causing it to generate too much heat and melt right down the center, a phenomenon known as ‘tunneling'” Proper wick maintenance like trimming the wick to 1⁄4 inch before each burn can help prevent tunneling issues.

The wick size needs to be matched to the diameter of the candle container to allow for ideal melt pool size and burn time. Wicks that are too small can lead to poor wax pooling, while wicks that are too large create excess soot and tunneling. Testing different wick types and diameters for each candle design is key. According to Village Craft & Candle, monitoring the candle as it burns and making wick adjustments for future batches is part of perfecting the soy candle making process.

Fire Hazards

All open flames pose some risk of fire, and soy candles are no exception. Proper placement, supervision, and precautions are key to safe usage.

Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a short while. Placing candles on a sturdy, heat resistant surface away from flammable materials is advised. Keep candles out of drafty areas and away from children and pets. Trim wicks to 1⁄4 inch before lighting to avoid excessive flame height and soot buildup. Allow melted wax to fully pool and candles to burn all the way through before relighting. Extinguish candles when they are within 2 inches of the bottom. Avoid burning multiple candles too close together as this intensifies the flames.

Always keep a proper fire extinguishing material on hand like water, sand, or a fire extinguisher. Do not try to extinguish a candle fire by blowing it out, as this can spread the flames. Gently place an inverted glass or metal mixing bowl over the flame to smother it before dousing it completely with water or using an extinguisher. Consult candle manufacturer guidelines and exercise common sense.

With reasonable safety steps, the cozy ambiance of soy candles can be enjoyed responsibly.

Safe Usage Tips for Soy Candles

To safely enjoy soy candles, follow these simple tips:

  • Use the proper wick size – Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and only use wicks made for soy wax. Using too large of a wick can cause rapid burning and sooting issues.
  • Provide adequate ventilation – Always burn soy candles in a well-ventilated area to allow heat and fragrance to dissipate. Avoid burning multiple soy candles in a small enclosed space.
  • Supervise burning candles – Never leave a burning soy candle unattended. Extinguish the flame before leaving a room or going to sleep.
  • Take precautions with pets – Be aware that pets may be sensitive or allergic to soy wax or fragrance oils. Keep burning candles safely out of reach of pets.

With proper care and handling, soy candles can be safely enjoyed without health risks or fire hazards in your home. But always exercise caution when burning any type of candle.


Soy candles are generally safe to burn when used properly. According to one source, soy wax candles made from 100% GMO-free soybean oil are a healthy alternative to paraffin wax candles. Soy wax burns cleaner and is more environmentally friendly. However, there are still some potential risks like soot and unpleasant odors that can occur if the candles are not cared for properly.

To safely enjoy soy candles, keep wicks trimmed to 1⁄4 inch, make sure the candle is burning in a stable container on a heat-safe surface, never leave burning candles unattended, and ventilate the room if odors become strong. People sensitive to soy should avoid prolonged exposure. With reasonable precautions, soy wax candles can be an enjoyable and safe household product.

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