Are Soy Candles Safe?

It seems like every candle these days is made of soy wax, so you’re probably wondering if soy wax is safe and how it compares to the previously most popular wax, paraffin. Below, we explain what soy wax and paraffin wax are made of and then delve into whether or not each of these waxes is safe to burn in your home in the form of candles.

What is paraffin wax made of?

industrial oil drills ocean side

By pan demin /

Paraffin wax is actually a byproduct of the processes used to refine crude oil into various types of fuels, such as gasoline. Paraffin is a hard waxy substance that varies in color from almost translucent to white. It has a melting point of around 48° to 66° C (120° to 150° F). Besides being used to make candles, paraffin also has other cosmetic and industrial applications. It can be found as an ingredient in some cosmetic products and can act as a waterproof coating for wood, among other uses.

Are paraffin wax candles safe?

For a long time, paraffin wax was the most common wax used in candles due to its abundance and affordability. However, research has come to light that has made paraffin wax fall out of favor. Since the wax is a byproduct of refining crude oil, when burned, it releases harmful chemicals (specifically toluene and benzene) which have been linked to asthma and lung cancer. Lighting paraffin candles in an unventilated space can lead to irritation of the respiratory tract as well as the skin. Paraffin wax is also more likely to produce soot, which many people find irritating, as well as unsightly.

scrubbing soot off wall

By FotoDuets/

What are the environmental effects of paraffin wax?

As a petroleum byproduct, paraffin wax is also bad for the environment. Crude oil is a nonrenewable resource, unlike the soybeans that soy wax comes from. We can’t just make more crude oil. The mining of crude oil has destroyed natural habitats, endangered animals and plants and resulted in oil spills. As a result of these factors, more and more candle manufacturers are moving towards soy wax. However, some cheaper candle brands are still clinging to paraffin wax, so be sure to check the small print on the label before you buy.

What is soy wax made of?

Soy wax is derived from soybean oil. The soybeans grow in pods, which are removed from the plant. The soybeans are then cleaned, cracked open, dehulled and finally rolled into dry flakes. Either solvents or mechanical pressing are used to extract the oils from the dry flakes. The oil is then hydrogenated, shifting the melting point of the oil so it will remain solid at room temperature, allowing it to be used as wax for candle making. Sometimes, soy may be blended with other types of wax and sold as “blended wax,” so definitely check the label before buying. 

homesick pumpkin picking candles

Are soy candles safe?

Yes, soy wax is safe to burn in your home. Soy wax is very clean-burning and produces little-to-no soot, especially when you follow the proper practices for burning candles in your home. Make sure to light them in well-ventilated rooms, but keep them away from drafts and vents as this can cause the flame to sputter. You should also keep the candle out of reach of pets, children or anything else that could knock it over while it’s burning. For more tips on burning a candle safely, check out our candle care page.

What other types of waxes are available?

While paraffin wax and soy wax are the most popular options for making candles, you may see other waxes being used, such as beeswax and coconut wax. To learn more about different types of waxes, check out our blog that explains what candles are made of. Educating yourself about the different types of wax will ensure that you know exactly what your candle contains whenever you bring a new one into your home.

If you’re looking for gift ideas, soy candles are an excellent idea that your recipient is sure to appreciate. If you want to add a more customized touch, send them a personalized candle with their name or a nice message that speaks only to them. They’ll think of you every time they light it!