If you are buying candles or purchasing wax for another project, you may be wondering about the different kinds of wax you can buy and which is better. In this article, we’re going to look at beeswax vs soy wax – what is the difference? This should help you determine which better suits your needs.
Beeswax and soy wax are both made using natural ingredients, with the former being created by bees, and the latter being produced from soybean oil. Beeswax tends to be more expensive, but it is often considered a better product, while soy wax is cheaper but tends to be inferior. Needless to say, since beeswax is derived from bees, it is not considered suitable for vegans.
Understanding the difference between these two kinds of waxes will make it easier to decide which one would be best for you. It may also help you to see why beeswax tends to be the more expensive option.
What Is The Difference Between Beeswax And Soy Wax?
Both beeswax and soy wax are frequently used for making candles, and they are both made using natural ingredients, but there are a few key differences between them that it is worth exploring.
- Beeswax contains no paraffin, whereas soy wax is usually processed using some paraffin
- Beeswax has a sweet, natural scent, whereas soy wax has no scent at all
- Beeswax produces a warm, natural flame, whereas soy wax produces a whiter flame
- Beeswax is more expensive than soy wax
- Beeswax burns for longer than soy wax
- Beeswax candles are usually 100 percent beeswax, while soy wax candles will often contain other ingredients
- Beeswax candles aren’t as white as soy wax
- Beeswax is often considered more environmentally friendly than soy wax
- Beeswax is not considered vegan, whilst soy wax is vegan-friendly.
As you can see, beeswax has a few advantages over soy wax, especially when used to create a candle, as soy wax must be scented artificially (or have no scent) and will not burn as long. It also tends to have other ingredients added, which may not be good for you.
However, if you’re vegan like me, you might not be down with buying any products that contain beeswax, so soy wax may be a more ethical option.
Anyway, let’s further explain the differences between both products.
1) Paraffin Content
If you are looking for paraffin-free candles, you should look at beeswax ones, not soy wax. Soy wax candles are often blended with paraffin, which many people are trying to move away from because they believe that it is unhealthy. There has been a push in recent years to stop burning paraffin in homes because it isn’t thought to be good for us.
The reason that paraffin is usually added is that soy wax isn’t suitable for large or shaped candles; it has a low melting point and can only be used for container candles in its natural form. Manufacturers, therefore, need to add paraffin and other ingredients to make the wax work for other candles.
A lot of people believe that burning paraffin isn’t good for your lungs, as it releases toxic chemicals into the air as it burns. There has been a big movement away from paraffin candles, but this should include soy candles, because of their paraffin content. Many people think soy candles are better than paraffin candles, but they do still contain this oil.
Beeswax candles tend to have a warm, natural smell that is slightly sweet and quite pleasant. Because of this, they do not usually have artificial scents added. If you like the smell of honey, you’ll love the smell of beeswax candles, and this means that they can be made with 100 percent beeswax.
Soy candles, on the other hand, may be completely unscented. This is a big advantage if you want no scent with your candles, but it does mean that many manufacturers add artificial scents to try to make their candles more appealing. If you find artificial scents strong or unpleasant, you may not enjoy soy candles unless you choose those without additional scents.
There are also some concerns about how artificial scents affect our lungs, and some people find that they trigger asthma and other breathing problems. You may therefore prefer beeswax candles.
3) Flame Appearance
If you love gazing at your candles as they burn, you will probably have a strong preference for either beeswax or soy, because they look quite different from each other. Beeswax candles have a yellower, warmer flame, while soy wax candle flames tend to be white.
Some people think that soy wax candles more closely replicate artificial light, so they may be better if you wish to read or see what you are doing more clearly (although they will not serve as a replacement for electric lights). However, if you prefer a warmer light, you might like beeswax candles.
Here, personal preference comes into play, and neither option is objectively better than the other – so pick whichever candle you like!
When it comes to budget shopping for candles, soy wax candles are going to win in almost every situation. They are often quite a bit cheaper than beeswax candles, as beeswax is a far more expensive product to make. You may be able to pick up soy candles for very little money, while beeswax candles tend to be pricey.
5) Burn Time
The burn time is a big factor to consider, and this is one of the mitigating elements of the price. Beeswax is a much denser product than soy wax, and this means that the burn time of a beeswax candle is longer.
Although beeswax candles are more expensive, therefore, you get a lot more burning from them, and many people find that they can stay lit for hours. A large beeswax candle will be pricier than a large soy wax candle, but it will burn for hours longer.
Mixing soy wax with paraffin does make it a denser product, but it doesn’t improve the burn times, because paraffin burns fast and hot. You will therefore find that soy wax candles simply don’t last as long as beeswax ones. Although beeswax is more expensive, it offers more value for money.
6) Other Ingredients
We have already raised the issue of paraffin being added to soy wax candles, but it’s important to look at what else goes into both kinds of candles, and you should check the ingredients with the manufacturer before making a purchase.
Beeswax candles are often made with 100 percent beeswax, although you should check that this is the case before you buy one. Some may have additives, but on the whole, beeswax is the only product used.
Soy wax, however, requires multiple additions to create a stable, safe candle. Stearic acid is sometimes mixed in alongside the paraffin. The wax will usually be bleached to make it white and attractive, and dyes may be added to color the wax. Fragrant oils may also be added.
Find out what is in your candles, and look for ones that use minimal ingredients. These are the most likely to be safe to burn.
7) Candle Appearance
If you love white candles, you may find that beeswax ones disappoint to some degree. Soy wax candles can be made very white and pure-looking, whereas beeswax candles are generally amber or yellow. They look more rustic, which can be a nice aesthetic – but can also look slightly grubby or aged.
Which you prefer will again come down to personal preference, but given that soy wax is often bleached during the manufacturing process, you might want to choose beeswax so you aren’t burning toxic substances in your home.
8) Environmental Impact
The environmental impact of the candles is also important to consider. Both are made from natural products, but there is a lot of deforestation associated with the soy industry. To create enough soy for our demands, great swathes of natural woodland have been cleared, and this deforestation is ongoing in critical places like the Amazon rainforest.
You should therefore treat soy products with some caution because you don’t want to be contributing to this. There are also other concerns involved in the soy industry, including herbicides and pesticides, and soy oil needs a lot of processing to be turned into a viable wax to use for candles. With the additives, you shouldn’t compost soy wax, so the end-of-life for these candles is also questionable.
By contrast, bees are considered highly beneficial to the environment; they are good pollinators that help to keep flowers growing and encourage biodiversity, and keeping them does not generally involve clearing land. Many bees are kept by individuals with backyard businesses, rather than massive corporations, which also makes the product more appealing.
Furthermore, beeswax can be composted when it has been used because it is a natural substance that will eventually break down. It may take some time, but it’s fully compostable.
9) Ethical Impact
If you’re like me and wish to avoid any products derived from animals, then you might want to go with soy wax because beeswax is still a byproduct of animal exploitation.
Small animal agriculture harms bees, according to science: research shows that the commercial migratory process causes oxidative stress and shortens their life spans.
Furthermore, hives containing tens of thousands of bees can be culled (exterminated) if they are infected with disease or if keeping the hives alive during the winter is too costly.
Therefore, if you’re vegan and are against animal exploitation, know that the beeswax production process can be quite cruel to bees.
There are quite a few differences between beeswax and soy wax, and as you can see, beeswax does have some significant advantages. It is more expensive, but offers better value for money, and is generally considered healthier both for the planet and for the consumer. It produces a warm, yellow glow, and has a lovely scent.