When it comes to candles, the popular opinion is that beeswax is definitely the better option, but not many know why this is the case. The need for this knowledge is the basis of this article. Choosing the right candle wax for making candles can pose a challenge, especially when you’re new to the scene. However, information such as that contained in this article will help further your knowledge and broaden your horizons in these matters.
PARAFFIN WAX: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT
Paraffin wax is sometimes referred to as petroleum wax. Pure paraffin wax is a tasteless, odourless solid with a colour ranging from white to colourless. It is made up of hydrocarbons, specifically alkanes. Paraffin wax is a soft wax derived from petroleum. It is commonly used in lubrication, electrical insulation and the core of this article, candlemaking. Paraffin wax can also be used to make crayons.
Although paraffin wax is sometimes confused with other petroleum products that are also called paraffins, it remains a distinct constituent of petroleum. It has unique properties and its own boiling point at which it distils out of petroleum so, very different. Paraffin wax is one of the earliest wax types to be used in candle making. It was cheap and still is cheap in comparison with other types of waxes. Paraffin wax can also be derived from coal or oil shale.
Paraffin wax is great when the only thing you’re considering is its fragrance load. It has a high fragrance load, higher than that of most plant-based waxes. This means that because of its orientation, it can retain more fragrance, so a more long-lasting fragrance can be added to it. Because it burns at a higher temperature than its counterparts, it is a good option for adding fragrance.
Also, paraffin wax is more affordable. Although affordability does depend on the strength of the buyer, paraffin wax is generally less expensive than other types of waxes.
What paraffin is not, is a healthy option because of the large number of toxins in it. Toxins from its natural constituents, toxins from the additives manufacturers choose to use in its manufacture.
Alkanes produce toxic fumes during combustion(burning) and since these alkanes constitute paraffin wax, you can be sure you’re not breathing in anything healthy when you burn paraffin wax candles. What’s worse is the fact that since paraffin wax has a high fragrance load and can retain a lot, these manufacturers choose to add various chemical fragrance boosters, colourants, and a number of enhancers. They add so much that when you burn your candles, you don’t even know what you’re breathing in.
BEESWAX: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Beeswax is a 100% natural wax derived from the honeycomb of bees, mostly honeybees. Pure beeswax consists of fatty acids and cholesterol and is made into the usable form by melting and hydrogenation. The melting converts it into oil and hydrogenation makes the unsaturated fatty acids saturated and hardens the oil.
Beeswax is used as a lubricant, waterproofing agent. It has also been used as a replacement for plastic and a form of polish. It is used in candle making and is one of the safest choices, really. Beeswax candles release anions into the air; these cause particles like dirt to fall to the ground. This activity purifies the air and having beeswax candles around definitely purifies the air in your home.
It is safe for people with allergies(except those allergic to beeswax itself) and people with asthma as well. It is non-toxic and when it is burned properly, it burns clean, way cleaner than paraffin wax does. Beeswax candles also burn with a brighter, warmer glow, almost like that of the sun. Perfect for some ambience while reading or having dinner.
Beeswax does have its disadvantages. Because beeswax is rare, it is very expensive. A decrease in the bee population, which is already happening, will further increase the already high cost of making candles with beeswax. Also, beeswax is not the best in terms of fragrance load. The already present honey scent tends to mask the added fragrances.
WHICH IS THE BETTER OPTION?
The big question. From everything discussed, it might seem like beeswax is the better option. The good definitely outweighs the bad but, we must also consider the fact that not everyone will be able to afford beeswax candles. What happens to those people? The inability of beeswax candles to consider those people is definitely a major problem, but, at the end of the day, the health of humans and the environment is the tipping factor.
Beeswax candles pose no direct threat to the health of humans or the environment(as long as the bees are taken care of) so, it’s definitely the better option.
The type of wax to use doesn’t only depend on the advantages or disadvantages of the wax. There are other determining factors from the type of candle you want to make, to the scent you want your candle to have. Those are important too. For example, container candles are made to sit inside some sort of vessel. It could be a glass jar and these candles do not have to stand on their own, so you can use literally any type of wax to make them.
Pillar candles on the other hand have to stand on their own. This means that the wax type used has to be one that doesn’t lose form while melting. The type of wax used here is of utmost importance. Also, there are candles that do not even need wax. Gel candles are made from a gel that is 95% mineral oil and 5% polymer resin. No wax is needed.
Although gel candles have a nice glow and they burn longer than wax candles, the side effects are not as nice. The components are hydrocarbons and when the candles burn, they release fumes into the environment, and these fumes are definitely not healthy.