Which Is Better Soy Or Paraffin Wax?

Candles have been used for thousands of years to provide light and create ambiance. While early candles were made from tallow, beeswax, or whale fat, most modern candles use either soy wax or paraffin wax. These two types of wax have become popular because they are inexpensive and easy to work with.

Soy wax is made from hydrogenated soybean oil. It was introduced to the candle making industry in the 1990s as a renewable and environmentally friendly alternative to paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is a petroleum byproduct created when crude oil is refined into gasoline. It remains the most widely used candle wax due to its low cost.

When deciding between soy and paraffin candle wax, there are a few key differences to consider in terms of performance, environmental impact, and other factors. This guide examines the pros and cons of each type of candle wax to help determine which may be better for your needs.

What is Soy Wax?

Soy wax is a vegetable wax made from the oil of soybeans. After harvesting, the beans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes (Source). The soybean oil is extracted and hydrogenated, converting it into a solid wax. Unlike paraffin wax which is a byproduct of petroleum refining, soy wax is made from a renewable and sustainable crop, making it a more eco-friendly option. It is commonly used to make candles, skin care products, lip balms, and more.

Soy wax burns cooler than paraffin wax. It has a lower melting point of 115 to 135°F compared to paraffin’s melting point of 135 to 145°F. This makes soy wax candles better for containers, as they don’t get too hot. Soy wax is also harder and more rigid than paraffin. It produces a smooth appearance and matte finish in candles.

What is Paraffin Wax?

Paraffin wax is a white or colorless soft, solid wax derived from petroleum, coal or oil shale. It consists of a mixture of hydrocarbon molecules containing between 20 and 40 carbon atoms. Paraffin wax is odorless and tasteless.

Some key facts about paraffin wax:

  • It is produced as a by-product of lubricating oil refining.
  • Paraffin wax has a melting point between 47°C and 64°C.
  • It is insoluble in water, but soluble in ether, benzene and certain esters.
  • Paraffin wax is thermoplastic, meaning it softens when heated and hardens when cooled.
  • It is commonly used in beauty treatments, candles, polishes, art materials and electrical insulators.

Overall, paraffin wax is a versatile byproduct of petroleum refining with a wide variety of applications due to its unique physical and chemical properties.

Pros and Cons of Soy Wax

Soy wax has several advantages that make it a popular choice for candle making:


  • It’s a natural wax made from soybeans, a renewable resource.
  • Soy wax is biodegradable and considered more environmentally friendly than paraffin wax (https://www.slatkinandco.com/blogs/the-slatkin-summary/soy-wax-vs-paraffin-wax-which-is-better).
  • The production of soy wax requires less energy than paraffin wax.
  • Soy wax is non-toxic and produces less soot when burning compared to paraffin.


  • Soy wax may not hold fragrance as well as paraffin wax.
  • It can be more expensive than paraffin wax.
  • Soy wax shrinks more than paraffin wax as it cools.

Pros and Cons of Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax has some advantages as well as some drawbacks to consider when deciding whether to use it. Here are the main pros and cons of paraffin wax:

soy wax and paraffin wax candles side by side on a table


  • Affordable – Paraffin wax is relatively inexpensive compared to other wax options like soy and beeswax. The low cost makes it economical for large scale production.
  • Easy to use – Paraffin wax is easy to work with. It melts at low temperatures and has a smooth texture that pours and releases from molds with ease.
  • Versatile – In addition to candle making, paraffin wax has many other uses including as a lubricant, sealant, and in cosmetic treatments for softening skin.


  • Not environmentally friendly – Paraffin is a petroleum product created from crude oil refining. It is not renewable or biodegradable.
  • Produces more soot – Paraffin candles tend to produce more soot than soy or beeswax candles when burned.
  • May release VOCs – Some studies indicate paraffin wax can release volatile organic compounds when heated. The extent of VOC emissions is debated.
  • Not as natural – Those looking for all-natural candle options generally avoid paraffin wax since it is synthetically manufactured.

Overall, the biggest advantages of paraffin wax are its very low cost and easy handling properties. The tradeoffs are that it is less environmentally-friendly and emits more soot compared to natural waxes. Candle makers need to weigh their priorities to decide if paraffin is a good choice for their needs.

Soy Wax vs Paraffin – Burn Time

When comparing the burn time of soy wax candles versus paraffin wax candles, there are some key differences to note. Soy wax typically has a shorter burn time than paraffin wax. This is because soy wax is denser and requires more heat to fully melt and burn up the wax [1]. Paraffin wax is softer and melts more easily, allowing it to burn for longer periods.

The exact burn times can vary based on factors like candle design, wick type, and more. But in general, paraffin candles will burn for 45-60 hours, while soy candles burn for 25-40 hours on average. Soy wax advocates argue that the shorter burn time is a reasonable trade-off for soy’s natural origins and cleaner burn. However, those looking for candles to burn for extended durations may still prefer paraffin [2].

No matter what wax is used, proper wick sizing and jar diameter choices can help maximize burn time. Testing different wick and jar combinations is recommended to achieve the desired burn length for a particular soy or paraffin candle.

Soy Wax vs Paraffin – Scent Throw

When comparing the intensity of scent between soy and paraffin wax candles, most experts agree that paraffin wax allows for a stronger scent throw than soy wax. Paraffin’s chemical structure enables it to hold and disperse fragrance oils more efficiently than natural soy wax.

According to Lone Star Candle Supply, paraffin wax contains lighter hydrocarbons that help fragrances travel further and faster through the air. The natural saturation level of fragrance is typically around 10% for paraffin, versus 6-8% for soy. This allows paraffin candles to fill a room with more intense aroma.

However, companies like Harlem Candle Company note that soy wax can retain scent longer than paraffin over time. So while paraffin may have stronger initial scent throw, soy candles maintain their aroma for more burns.

With testing and specialized wicks, soy wax can be optimized for scent intensity. But in most cases, paraffin will provide a stronger scent when burned compared to natural soy wax.

Soy Wax vs Paraffin – Appearance

When it comes to visual aesthetics, soy wax and paraffin wax candles have some noticeable differences. Soy wax tends to have a creamier, opaque appearance compared to the translucent look of paraffin wax. The opacity of soy wax allows for better adhesion of pigments and dyes, resulting in rich, vibrant colors that stand out more. Paraffin wax has a clear, see-through look that shows the candle wick. While paraffin can be dyed as well, the colors are more muted and translucent. Soy wax also has a smooth, matte finish when cooled compared to paraffin’s glossy appearance. This matte look is appreciated by some as having a more natural, homemade artisan feel. The opacity and matte finish of soy wax allows for a better surface for decorative finishes like engraving. Ultimately, the appearance comes down to personal preference. Those wanting a bold, creamy colored candle would likely prefer soy while those wanting a classic transparent look may opt for paraffin.

Environmental Impact

When comparing soy wax and paraffin wax, one of the biggest differences is their environmental friendliness. Soy wax is considered a much more eco-friendly option compared to paraffin wax.

Soy wax is made from soybeans, a renewable and sustainable crop. It is biodegradable and does not release toxins into the air when burned (https://www.vellabox.com/soy-vs-paraffin/). Paraffin wax, on the other hand, is made from petroleum and natural gas, non-renewable fossil fuels. It also releases carcinogens and other toxins when burned that can be harmful to human health (https://stoneycreekfarmtennessee.com/soy-wax-vs-paraffin-wax-which-candle-is-more-sustainable/).

Additionally, soy wax can be composted at the end of its lifespan, breaking down naturally in the environment. Paraffin wax does not biodegrade easily and can persist in landfills. The production of paraffin wax also creates more carbon emissions compared to soy wax.

For those concerned about reducing their environmental impact, soy wax is clearly the more eco-friendly choice over paraffin wax. The renewability of soybeans, biodegradable nature of soy wax, and lack of toxic emissions give it a significant environmental advantage.

Conclusion and Recommendation

When comparing soy wax vs paraffin wax, there are pros and cons to each type of candle wax. Soy wax is made from a renewable and sustainable resource, while paraffin is a petroleum byproduct. Soy wax burns cleaner, is biodegradable, and made in the USA. However, paraffin wax candles typically have a better scent throw and burn time. Paraffin is also less expensive than soy.

For consumers concerned about the environment and sustainability, soy wax is likely the better choice despite some potential drawbacks. The renewable nature of soy, cleaner burn, and biodegradability make it an eco-friendly option. People sensitive to scents may prefer soy candles as well.

Those focused purely on excellent scent throw and long burn times may want to choose paraffin. Paraffin is a good budget option too. However, paraffin wax releases more soot and toxins when burning and is not biodegradable.

Overall, for environmentally-conscious consumers willing to sacrifice some burn time and scent intensity, soy wax candles are the better choice over paraffin. The sustainability benefits and cleaner burn of soy wax make it a greener, healthier candle option.

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