From tofu to candle wax, protein-rich foods to eco-friendly consumer products, there seems to be no end to how this invaluable resource is used today: the Soybean!
The production of soy wax candles greatly benefits the American agricultural economy. If soy wax replaced paraffin wax an estimated 60 million pounds of soybeans would be needed for annual candle production. On the other hand, paraffin candles are a byproduct of oil refining thereby relying on foreign crude oil markets for manufacture. Eventually the production of paraffin wax will likely become very cost prohibitive as we continue to deplete the world's oil reserves. However, soy wax is a sustainable and renewable resource, thereby helping our environment.
Soy candles do not emit the soot that are characteristic of paraffin candles. While the combustion of paraffin candles produces a considerable amount of soot, the combustion of soy wax candles produces little to no soot (1). Not only do paraffin candles leave black residue on the containers they were burned in, but prolonged use of these candles can stain your walls, ceilings, curtains or blinds, and even carpets or rugs (2).
To date, the EPA (or any other organization) has not conclusively studied the long term health issues that may arise from burning paraffin wax candles compared to burning soy candles. However, the EPA did find organic chemicals and known carcinogens, such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein in paraffin wax (3). In addition, Rezaei et al. (1) studied the combustion characteristics of soy, paraffin and beeswax candles, and they concluded that measurable amounts of formaldehyde were detected when burning paraffin candles. We need to do further testing to clearly and unequivocally examine the potential health hazards of being exposed to possible respiratory irritants from paraffin candles compared to beeswax, soy wax and other vegetable wax candles. However, several studies have indicated that soy candles emit less soot and organic chemicals than their paraffin counterparts.
Another benefit of soy wax is that it is a biodegradable product. This means it cleans up easily with just soap and warm water. You no longer have to worry about the mess paraffin makes when cleaning up your candleholders.
Lastly, soy wax has a much lower melting point compared to paraffin wax. Therefore, soy candles burn slower and last between 30 to 50% longer than paraffin candles of the same size.
1. Rezaei, K, T. Wang, and L.A. Johnson. "Combustion Characteristics of Candles Made from Hydrogenated Soybean Oil." Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 79: 803-808 (2002). Available at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/l318x06857621705/
2. Krause, David. "Black Soot and Candles: New Research and Case Studies." Indoor Environment 1999 Proceedings.
3. Knight, L, A. Levin, C. Mendenhall. "Candles and Incense as Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution." EPA/600/SR-01/001 (2001). Available at: http://www.epa.gov/