Monday, June 13, 2011

Soy vs. Other Candle Waxes

For the past several months I've been collecting glass jars from friends, family, strangers....just about anyone.  While I have some plans for all those clear jars, my mom gave me a bunch of really great brown jars that I can't do much with in the way of decorating.  So I had this wild and crazy idea that I would just throw together some candles.  I have never made candles before but I figured, "I'm crafty, how hard can it be?"   So I walked the isles of my local craft store and bought a bag of soy wax and then I did some research.  Yeah, I know that's a little backwards but I realized then that I had a lot to learn.

While I work out the kinks of this latest upcycling adventure I thought I should definitely share what I learned because what I learned convinced me to never BUY another candle.  I'll share my upcycled candle making tutorial another time.  For now please use the following information as guidance only.  Like I said, I've never made candles before now but was shocked by what I learned and thought others would benefit from it.  So without further ado...

There are some health benefits to soy versus other waxes such as paraffin, which is the most common type of candle wax.
1. Soy is a natural substance derived from the soy bean.  When a soy candle burns it burns clean.  Other waxes are likely petroleum based and release carcinogens into your home.  Need proof?  Take a look at the glass around any of the non-soy jar candles in your home.  See all the black stuff around the rim?  That is soot produced from the burning of petroleum.

2.  Often candlemakers are aware of the health benefits of soy and look to make all aspects of their candles healthier.  The wicks of non-soy candles often contain led or other metal cores.  On the other hand, soy wicks are likely made of cotton.  If you choose soy, be sure to pay attention to this detail.  There's no sense in burning led in your home when there are healthier alternatives.

3.  Soy wax has a low melting point so it doesn't need to get quite so hot in order to melt.  If you accidentally get it on you, either while you're making or burning candles, it won't burn your skin like paraffin would.

Some environmental benefits:
1. Soy beans are grown mostly in the United States so the environmental impact of shipping is reduced as opposed to other waxes that come from oil producing countries.

2.  Cleaner burning candles means less carcinogens in the air.

Better ingredients make better end products:
1.  Watch any of your non-soy candles burn and you'll see a hole burrow through the candle around the wick.  That's because you're burning just the wick.  In a soy candle when the wick burns it burns off the  candle; the wax. As a soy candle burns it leaves a beautiful wax pool that solidifies to a nearly even surface when the wick is extinguished instead of a hole in the center of the candle.

2.  While you may suffer a moment of sticker shock, in the long run soy will save you money.  Pure burning soy will last at least twice as long as a paraffin candle.

So there's what I learned.  Wish me luck, I have my first batch cooling!

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