Comparing the Best Wax for Candles
Soy wax vs beeswax and other options for making candles
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Candles make a house feel like a home, but they can be expensive. Making your own candles can improve the affordability. There are several options for candle wax, and some waxes are better for certain types of candles. Your choice of candle wax may also depend on your environmental views and cost. Where does wax come from, and how is wax made? We will look at all of these factors as we compare the best wax for candles.
Beeswax is possibly the oldest wax used for candles. As a byproduct of bees making honey, it is fairly environmentally sustainable. Beeswax is hard enough that it is great for making pillar candles (tall column candles with no container) and tapered candles, yet still versatile enough to be used for container candles. It has a high melting point. Some of the downsides to beeswax candles are that they don’t hold color or fragrance very well. However, beeswax has a naturally sweet aroma and subtle coloring that shines on its own. The biggest drawback to natural beeswax is that it can often cost more than twice as much as some of the other candle wax choices.
Coconut wax is always a blend with other waxes such as soy wax or paraffin wax to aid in hardness. It is a very easy wax to work with: it has a very low melting point and holds scent well. Although it tends to be just a little pricier, it is a good blend for beginners wanting to do container candles.
Gel wax is not truly a wax by definition. It is typically a blend of mineral oil and polymer resin. Gel wax is rubbery, transparent, and often used in novelty candles. It is usually a soft wax that must be in a container. It does burn longer than paraffin wax; up to twice as long. If you do not like bubbles, then gel wax may not be the best wax for candles as it is more prone to having bubbles. However, it doesn’t shrink as it cools, so the need to top off the container is eliminated. The price is usually cheaper than beeswax but more than other candle wax choices.
Palm wax is made from hydrogenating palm oil. It is a hard wax that is good for pillar and votive candles. It often hardens to form a crystallized pattern whether as a pillar or container candle. Palm wax also has a fairly high melting point, even higher than beeswax. While it is a completely natural wax, the sustainability of palm is a concern for many.
Paraffin wax is a popular choice for many candle makers. It is easy to work with, comes with different melting points for different projects, and is the cheapest option. Different blends with paraffin wax give this versatility. Most commercial candles are made from paraffin. It also has good scent preservation and can be the best candle wax for scent throw. Yet, paraffin wax is not the most environmentally sound choice because it is a byproduct of crude oil refinement.
Soy candle wax is fairly new to the candle market, only around since the 1990s. It is made from hydrogenated soybean oil and is very environmentally sustainable. 100% soy wax is soft and best used for container candles. However, soy wax comes in many blends to give different hardness levels. As long as the blend contains at least 51% soy, it is termed a soy wax blend. Soy is often blended with paraffin or other waxes and oils such as coconut oil, beeswax, or palm wax. Soy blends vary in price as candle making supplies, depending on what else is in the blend, but they are typically mid- to low-range in the price comparison. Because soy is denser than paraffin, it does not release scent from fragrance oils as well.
Some candle waxes are more versatile while others are used for very specific results. Whichever wax you use, be sure to research which wick to pair with it. If your wick is too thin, it can melt a tunnel through your candle instead of burning the candle down evenly. A wick that is too thick may not burn down as quickly as the wax, leaving a large, partially-burned wick sticking out above the wax. Also, just because a candle has a lower melting point doesn’t always mean that it doesn’t need to be brought to a higher temperature for pouring. Be sure to follow pouring temperature recommendations from your wax supplier. The melting point does have a lot to do with how long your candle lasts.
Now that we have compared the best wax for candles, you can make a more informed choice as far as what type of candle you will make. While some waxes are very versatile, others win the prize for being environmentally sound. While none of them is the perfect option for every candle project, you can certainly find one perfect for yours.