Paraffin and Soy Wax – Myth Busting

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding paraffin and soy waxes and which one is better for you and the environment.  It’s a complex area but basically how I see it, everything has an environmental impact at some point.  Hopefully the information below will give you more of an insight into these waxes and bust some to the myths.

picture showing soy plant pods

Soy Wax

Soy wax was discovered in 1991.  It is derived from vegetable soybeans which are mainly grown in plantations within the United States, Argentina and Brazil. The soybeans are pressed for oil and then the oil is hydrogenated to form wax.

Soy (in its purest form) can be considered as both a natural and renewable source.  However, it’s not 100% immune from having a potentially concerning environmental impact.

Due to an increase in global demand for soybeans, there are growing concerns surrounding deforestation as well as the impact of large-scale growing and production on indigenous communities, small farmers and the surrounding natural environment.  The majority of soy is used in the food industry, including animal feed.  Candle-wax makes up a small fragment of the overall consumption.

Although these practices require a responsible, informed approach when it comes to sourcing, as well as global attention towards the use of land and natural resources; it is not enough to label soy wax ‘harmful’ or even ‘Non- environmentally friendly’’.

Soy wax has a lower melting temperature than paraffin wax and is usually softer, making it a great option as a container wax.  However, this can lead to issues when the wax cools or during hot days.  Soy wax is more prone to frosting, which looks a bit like snowflakes or crystals on the surface.  A benefit of soy candles is they burn very well, often creating a larger melt pool, and use all the wax in a long, slow burn.

picture showing petroleum plant lit up at night

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin is a bi-product of the petrochemical industry.  The process of making paraffin wax was discovered in the 1850s.  Chemists realised they could refine the left-over waste removed from crude oil, separate the waxy substance, and use this by-product to produce candles and a wide variety of other products and applications such as drywall, waxed paper, guide wax (for snowboards & skis), crayons and cosmetics.  You can also find some food grade paraffin waxes in food stuffs such as coating of sweets, preserving food and sealing canning jars.

Paraffin, as a product, is 100% free from animal or animal-derived components and is cruelty-free. This means that paraffin wax can be used in any vegan-friendly product without any labelling implications.

Crude oil is a naturally occurring substance that is found deep in the earth.  It is formed from the remains of dead organisms that existed millions of years ago and were buried in layers of sand, mud & rock and subjected to both intense heat and pressure.  This means that paraffin is a natural substance but cannot be classed as renewable.

It should be pointed out that paraffin wax does also have some performance benefits over other types of wax. In fact, it’s less prone to crystallisation and it also has a superior scent throw.


Neither wax is better than the other with regards to health hazards and the environment.  Both are equally safe to burn and enjoy.  Any type of combustion produces some particulates and the best way to minimize this is to ensure that you trim your wick to 5mm before each burn.

It is a personal preference as to which wax you prefer!