In the past, candles used to be an essential part of everyday life. Candle making used to be done primarily by women from tallow or hand dipped beeswax candles to last the winter. With the invention of electric lamps, the candles were no longer a necessity and became essential for décor and pleasure purposes.
A simple whiff of a pleasant, comforting scent can quickly put us into a better mood and mindset, but the great debate if we should use scented candles or not can make us question what is the best candle to choose? The three most common candle wax materials are beeswax, paraffin and soy and here is what you should know about them before making a decision.
Beeswax vs. Paraffin vs. Soy Candles
Beeswax is a valuable ingredient in candles and has been used for ages to brighten up homes. Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Chinese relied on beeswax candles because they have the brightest and purest light, closest to natural light and when used as a light source, these candles can help minimize eye strain and reduce headaches.
Beeswax is a renewable, all-natural wax, produced by honey bees. Beeswax candles offer a few benefits over regular candles and are an environmentally-friendly choice. You can find hand dipped beeswax candles and enjoy their non-toxic properties. Beeswax candles do not contribute to air pollution, but what’s even better is that they have been found to clean the air.
They are the healthiest candles to burn as they contain negative ions. When positive and negative ions mix, they are attracted to each other. As a result, the particles are too heavy to float and eventually they drop to the ground. This is one of the simplest, yet very effective way to extract dust, pollen and dander from the air and clean your home space.
Also, beeswax is hypoallergenic and is great for people with allergies or sensitivities. Beeswax candles provide health benefits that are essential for your lifestyle and health needs. The simple act of burning a candle is a relaxing experience and can help reduce stress in your everyday life. Some beeswax candles are not scented, while others have a mildly sweet and natural scent which can have an ultimately calming effect.
These candles burn for hours without sooting or dripping. Over time, your beeswax candle may produce a little drip, which will develop a white film. It gives the candle a unique look, but keep in mind that you should always trim the wick and for best results, try to keep your candle out of the draft.
Paraffin is probably the most common material for mass-market candles thanks to its price. However, there has been a lot of research in the last years, uncovering that its low price comes with many downsides to the people’s health and the environment.
It is a non-renewable wax created as a by-product of petroleum, oil shale or coal. Paraffin is highly refined and treated with chemicals, therefore, it is not a clean or bright burning fuel source. Compared to beeswax, paraffin is not hypoallergenic and not a good choice for those who suffer from allergies, asthma or other chemical sensitivities.
Paraffin candles are known to contain several documented toxins, two of which are tagged as carcinogenic. These candles may be cheap to buy, but they can be difficult to clean when melted and can stain black soot on walls, drapery and furniture. So, before you opt for paraffin candles you may want to think twice and consider a candle option that isn’t slowly poisoning your living space.
Soy candles have risen in fame in the last few years as a healthy alternative to paraffin candles. Soy wax is a renewable resource and soy candles are biodegradable. It’s derived from the soy plant and is relatively new compared to other types of wax. It was discovered in 1996 by a group of students at Purdue University. They were trying to create a sustainable birthday candle and won the first prize in the competition.
Soy candles are vegan as they are made without the use of animal by-products. They burn cleanly and are environmentally friendly options as they keep soot out of your home, same as beeswax candles. Soy wax may not be ideal for pillar candles, but it is great for container candles and wax melts.
Soy candles are known as well for throwing scent beautifully, which makes them a perfect choice if you want to fill the room with a delicious scent. But many soy candles contain fragrances and dyes, the same as the ones added to paraffin candles.
Truth to be told, some low-quality beeswax candles can be dyed and fragranced too and they don’t offer the healing benefits of 100% pure beeswax candles. Pure beeswax candles don’t require added fragrances or dyes, because the pollen and honey content of the wax gives a natural orange colour and light and sweet fragrance.
Hands down, beeswax candles win this competition thanks to the numerous health benefits they offer, but you need to make sure you always buy from a reputable store. The price can be a deal-breaker for some, but keep in mind that they burn for hours, so you’ll get to enjoy the calming effect for longer.