Which Type of Wax is Best?

There are a lot of wax types out there. Paraffin, soy, beeswax, coconut wax…What’s the difference? Does it matter what type of wax you burn? Yes.

The biggest differences between different types of waxes are whether they are eco-friendly, sustainable, vegan, and toxin-free.


Toxic/Non-EcoFriendly Candles


Paraffin Wax


Paraffin wax is the most common type of wax in use today and is what you’ll find in most low-cost, high-production candles. It’s very inexpensive but is a byproduct of the oil refining industry. Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum when it is processed to make gasoline. When it is burnt, it emits toxins and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, and the American Lung Association has put out a warning against its use.


Gel Wax


We’re cheating here – this isn’t really a type of wax. But it is used to make gel candles, the type of candle you’ll find with embedded-objects or as “see-through” candles. Gel wax is made in a similar fashion as paraffin wax – it’s made from mineral oil that is a by-product of refining crude oil. Crude oil comes from drilling, which is definitely not eco-friendly. This mineral oil is then combined with polymer resin (i.e., plastic). When these candles are burnt they release toxins into the air and when they are thrown out they pollute the environment, i.e., they're not sustainable or biodegradable.


Palm Wax


This one’s a little sad. The wax itself is non-toxic and clean burning, almost making it a suitable wax for candle burning. Unfortunately, it’s on our don't buy list because it’s not sustainably made and harvesting the palm that goes into this wax contributes to deforestation and dwindling orangutan populations. Palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, where some of the largest and oldest rainforests in the world are being clear cut at an alarming rate to create this product. This also contributes to climate change and is one of the world’s largest CO2 emitters.


In the early 2000’s, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recognized this problem and worked with oil producers in the area to create something you may have heard of - the RoundTable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This is what you see on products containing palm oil that claim to be eco-friendly; it’s a certification stating that their palm oil was harvested sustainably. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of the palm oil receiving this certification is actually verified, so it is commonly mixed with tainted oil (that still receives the certificate of sustainability). It’s a great mission that is at odds with economic interests, making it an uphill battle to create sustainable palm oil.


Nontoxic Waxes with Pros and Cons




Beeswax candles are the oldest type of candle wax you can use, even dating back to the Egyptian era. They’re also nontoxic and renewable and have a long burn time. Personally, we like this wax for its environmental friendliness and burn time. The only downsides are that it’s expensive, not vegan (comes from bees), and has a natural honey scent that can alter the scent of your candle. We rate this as one to use if you aren’t vegan or worried about altering the scent of your candle.


Rapeseed Wax


We’re pretty okay with this wax, too. It’s a fairly new wax derived from the rapeseed plant and is considered clean burning. It’s not too commonly used in the candle industry, especially in the US. Since production of rapeseed wax is mainly concentrated in Europe, it’s not locally sourced here, increasing its carbon footprint and decreasing its sustainability. Not a bad wax overall, especially if you live in Europe.


Coconut Wax


This wax is made from hydrogenated and refined coconut oil, making it all-natural, sustainable, vegan, and eco-friendly. This is similar to soy in many ways, just much more expensive.

Soy Wax


Our favorite wax! Which is why we use it in our candles. It’s all-natural, vegan, sustainable, and eco-friendly. It also burns much slower than many other waxes, extending the life of your candle. In addition, it burns cleaner, doesn’t release toxins into your home, and is biodegradable. Lastly, it’s midrange in price – it’s not as cheap as waxes with toxins in them, but it’s not as expensive as coconut wax, either. We’re a fan of moderation around here and encourage you to burn soy wax candles.


Photo Credit: Photo by Mindaugas Norvilas on Unsplash














Comments (0)

Leave a comment