Soy vs. Beeswax Candles: The Inside Scoop

the problems with soy candles

Last week, I discussed my unusual high school job: pouring beeswax candles at a Greek Orthodox Convent! Read about the healing properties of beeswax candles and the dangers of paraffin candles here. Did you know, for example, that many people find burning beeswax candles an effective treatment for allergies? 

Soy vs. Beeswax Candles

Hands down, beeswax candles win the competition. They can effectively reduce allergies, asthma, and hay fever by releasing negative ions into the air. Although soy candles don’t boast medicinal properties, soy is clearly a better choice that paraffin candles… sometimes (read why paraffin candles are so dangerous here). There is a catch…

In the U.S., the term “pure” on a label means only 51% of an ingredient (and that goes for food, too). Companies sell both “pure” beeswax candles and “pure” soy candle, which contain a combination of 51% beeswax/soy wax and 49% toxic paraffin. Look for the key phrase “100% Pure Beeswax” or “100% Soy” on candles.

But even 100% soy candles have some significant problems: 

Soy candles contain paraffin

 Interestingly, even a 100% soy wax candle must be processed with a small amount of paraffin. Potentially, burning a 100% soy candle will release small amounts of the carcinogens and toxins found in paraffin. Again, most soy candles on the market are not 100% soy, and contain a high percentage of poisonous paraffin.

Soy candles often contain  fragrances and dyes

Additionally, many soy candles contain the same poisonous dyes and fragrances added to paraffin candles. (Granted, some low quality beeswax candles are dyed and fragranced, too, and they do not offer the healing benefits of 100% pure beeswax candles.) Interestingly, essential oils are not safe options for candle fragrances, either. A  soy or beeswax candle scented with essential oils will release toxins, since combustion changes the molecular structure of these oils.

100% pure beeswax candles require no added fragrances or dyes, because the pollen and honey content of the wax offer a natural orange color and light, sweet fragrance.

Soy candles pose environmental concerns

More than 90% of soy is genetically modified! GM soy crops are heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides, causing harm to both the harvesters and the soil. So if you are buying soy candles, chances are you are supporting the production of GMO’s–which devastate our environment and our health.

Price: A Deal Breaker for Some

 beeswax soy candlesWhen you buy paraffin candles, you are spending money to poison your home. Beeswax candles, like I discussed, are a healing investment and worth the higher price tag. Soy candles–even 100% pure soy candles–cost significantly less than beeswax. Those who want a more affordable alternative to paraffin often go with soy candles. Although this is a personal decision, but I would rather go candle-free than settle for anything less than 100% beeswax.

Where do I get the beeswax candles?

Please read the UPDATE section on my beeswax candles post.

Questions about wicks or making your own candles? Please refer to that post, too.

shared at: Homestead Barn Hop,  Sunday School, Monday Mania

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  1. Lynda says

    There is another choice for candles! A company that I have recently joined because of this very problem. They use palm oil wax which burns cleanly and no soot! They are an Amerrican company and all candles are made here in the USA. I have a problem with any kind of scent in perfume, deorderants, cleaners and many other products. From the first time I just sniffed this candle, I could tell the lack of chemicals in it. I have grown to really love their items.

    You can read more on the site. The wick is 100% cotton too. I have just joined as a distributor, but their candles are really different and worth a look.

    Thanks, Lynda

    • says

      Thanks for sharing, Lynda! I’ve tried 100% pure palm wax in the past, but it still couldn’t compare to beeswax for me. 100% pure beeswax has a light, honey fragrance and I missed that with the palm wax. But the palm wax is certainly more affordable.

      I would only recommend using 100% pure palm wax candles. I was browsing the website that you linked and saw that most of their candles use toxic fragrances and dyes.

      • Tori Bailey says

        Do you have a link to the research papers where you got your info regarding how bad paraffin candles are? I have only ever been able to find one article on the subject. All the other stuff that came up was just re-hashes of that.

    • Taylor says

      The tactic in which palm oil is extracted and collected is very detrimental to animals, especially Oranutans fighting for their existence in Indonesia and Malaysia. If people were more aware, and we lived in a world of glass walls, we would never use palm oil. It’s a tragic element and ingredient found in an extended list of food products and beauty products we consume daily. The facts are there, by supporting palm oil extraction we are deforesting habitats and killing thousands of animals, as well as the habitats for the indiginous peoples, who live in the whirl of the palm oil demolition. Although palm oil benefits seem natural and organic to the consumers, the dollar price we are paying for the product, whether foods, lotions, or candles, comes with a much greater cost to the innocent creatures we are stealing life from. This comment is not intended to sound as a preach or a shame on you, it is to enlighten you, and us, and we as consumers about the blindfold draped over our eyes by manufacturers and coorporations. I, as well, percieved palm oil as an organic and natural subsitute to the pollition in which our soy is manipulated with, hardly considering where the pomade came from (my thinking: just as long as it wasn’t genetically modified ingredients and it’s natural, it must be okay.) I discovered the dangers of palm oil from an online peer, and want to continue to pass the dangers on to you, reader. We live in a scary world where we are sensitive to the sway of advertising. Coorporations will make us blind to the dirty secrets hidden beneath their labels. Devote the time to read labels, and understand the whereabouts of our consumed ingredients. The solution for candles is Bee’s Wax. It is a natural and local ingredient which benifits the population of bees, and in turn benefits us with a proper pollination nessicary for the creation of food. Bee’s and humans have a great symniotical relationship of give and take. As we help their population rise again, they provide us with the genesis of food. Think simple, think local, think before consuming. It’s the natural way to assist rather than destroy.

      • margo says

        Palm oils are extracted from the berries, it is a renewable source. know one is killing the plants. It is propaganda from the soy industry, that you bought into.

  2. Stephanie says

    I have some beeswax candles melting in ramekins on candle burners. They seem to last forever! Would the benefits be the same as actually burning the beeswax candle? I’m assuming “yes” but just wanted your thoughts. Thanks!

    • says

      Yes, I believe you will still get the air cleaning properties, but not as potent as burning the actual candle. Anyways, that is my educated guess on the topic… At least using beeswax in a candle warmer won’t pollute the air like using those paraffin wax disks.

  3. Lynda says

    Thank you Lauren! They use natural fragrances when they can, but many are synthetic so that they will last through the whole candle. Of course you couldn’t nor would you want to with a beeswax candle since they have their own natural fragrance.

    I still think it’s a nice choice for when you want to have a difference scent. I know I’ve not had any allergic reactions to them.

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog!

  4. Mellan says

    I’m curious…is there a way to tell what a candle is (soy vs. parafin, etc)? Obviously the beeswax is going to smell like honey. I have lots of candles but they are mostly decorative as I don’t know what they are made of. I am allergic to eating soy and am against supporting the soy industry. Would I also have allergy symptoms burning a soy candle? It seems everywhere I go, even the organic market the candles are soy! Thanks!

    • says

      If it doesn’t have a label on the candle, it is paraffin. By far, the majority of candles are paraffin candles and you can be safe to assume that your decorative candles are also paraffin. So use them for decoration but do not burn them.

      And don’t burn soy candles if you are allergic–you would probably have a reaction. And I’m with you… I certainly don’t want to support the genetically modified soy industry.

  5. vikki smith says

    I have been buying beautiful, pure beeswax candles from Vermont Honey Lights for 20 years and burn them daily in my home. I love the faint smell of honey as they burn and they are as beautiful to look at as they are restorative, in terms of helping with allergies and asthma. This is a family-owned company who works heavily in fundraising for charity and they are a delight to work with. Based in Bristol, VT and they ship all anywhere.

  6. liese says

    For those of us who would like to make our own candles, can you recommend any particular brand of wax? I like Coloured candles.

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  16. Christa says

    I had never even considered that the type of wax used in candles mattered! Thanks so much for this post. Reading this brought up a question that you may or may not be able to answer.. I work at a spa (massage therapist) and we dip our hands in warm paraffin wax at the beginning of our shifts to help warm up and soften our hands. Do you have any information about whether or not the toxins in paraffin wax can be absorbed through the skin? I did a quick google search to see if I could find any info, but nothing really came up. Any insight you have would be great! Thanks :)

  17. Jessica says

    This was very interesting, I have never heard that burning essential oils release toxins. Thats what most of the sites I come across suggest using. Do you mind me asking where you got this information? I would love to read more about it.

  18. Summer Frost says

    I am a beekeeper and make candles from the extra wax my hives produce. One question I am asked frequently is *why* beeswax candles are “more” expensive than _____. It’s a reasonable question. The answer is, beeswax is a resource intensive product to make for the bees. Yes, they make wax naturally for comb, and to cap honey in the comb. But the bees must consume 6-8 pounds of honey to make one pound of wax. One good sized pillar candle can easily weigh a pound.

    Also, be aware that there is a lot of misinformed (and deliberate) mis-labeling going on with soy candles. While soybean OIL can be labeled organic, wax made from soy oil (or any other oil) cannot be. In fact, the USDA allows NO wax to be labeled “Organic”. And the process used to make wax from oil uses nasty stuff that would disallow an organic label, anyway.

    Buy local, buy beeswax, and buy honey to support your local beekeeper. She works hard for the honey!

  19. Anna says

    Hi Lauren,
    I always loved candles specially because I come from a country (Brazil) where candles are deeply involved in culture, from religious to decoration. Your article is really helpful in outlining the differences between the types of candles available in the market. Recently I decided that I wanted to make my own ones and purchased my first soy flakes and accessories online (which I’m still waiting to arrive).
    I had a look on you blog and quickly read your story about natural healing, which I’m also interested, although I’m a vet and unfortunately a big part of my job still depends on the drug industry. I wish vets were more interested in not-so-easy solutions like a cortisone tablet. So I do understand what you going through and agree on your approach in relates to holistic medicine and sustainable living.
    On the other hand, I’m a bit concern about a few of your perspectives as natural/sustainable living. I do not believe the soy industry is not the best alternative to paraffin, however the bee industry is not as well. The same way you did not give up on meat on your holistic medicine. Giving up on grain and still eating meat is far away from sustainable, as more than 70% the grain we grow go straight to feed animals people ingest everyday. You may not support the soy industry by buying candles, but you strongly support soy, cereals and other genetically modified grains animal eat. In addition, meat industry destroys the environment through air pollution (methane released by cattle), water pollution and the amount of land used for grazing, devastating natural habitats and native species of all kind (animals, plants, bacteria etc).
    I am not here to tell you what you should do or not, as I am also part of a species responsible for the situation our nature is facing now. However, I do find quite interesting.. lets say.. when people try to introduce subjects about sustainability without looking to the big picture. You may find that lighting a soy candle everyday a problem, but the fact that one of your daily basics activities includes eating meat is a HUGE issue. Please, do not take this as a radical vegetarian attack, I am just trying to open your mind to something extremely important, specially in the subjects you are writing. Numerous researches show the health problems caused by meat diets and colonic disease is one of them.
    I still hope to find a sustainable way to make candles, but please consider reading about the meat industry and that definitely will help you win the inside and outside battle of your worlds.

  20. chris says

    Not paraffin is poisonous to the touch. I was actually interested in a information discussion with you but apparently you have some sort of agenda that compels you to print blatant lies about paraffin, so I guess informational discussion wouldn’t work do to the high amount of distortion in your supposed facts. I feel bad for people who follow blogs like yours at face value, and have no idea that your information if very biased and for the most part totally wrong. You should place a warning somewhere on your blog stating that facts stated here are not really facts but your opinions.

  21. Hannah R says

    I’m looking to make some scented wax bars to warm in my home and give as gifts. I have 100% beeswax and would like to use that, but I am unsure about how to choose scents that will be clean burning and compatible with the natural scent of the beeswax. Also, I’m not sure how much scent to put in as this is my first time trying a project like this. Do you have any hints that you could share with me?

  22. says

    Thank you for this – it was very helpful. We love beeswax candles but also use soy as an alternative to regular, but I didn’t realize they could release toxins even with the essential oils. I’ll be making beeswax for sure!

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