We love candles, creating a cozy atmosphere to our home as the flame flickers and adds a feeling of warmth. But there are some candles that can be bad for your health, making burning a candle more of a concern than a pleasure.
However, if you want to keep the flame lit and keep using candles, consider using soy candles. But are soy candles safe and non-toxic to burn in your home?
Here’s everything you need to know about soy candles including the difference between soy and paraffin, what they’re made from, and whether or not they are toxic.
Soy vs. Paraffin Wax
In order to make the move from paraffin candles to soy, it helps to know the difference between the two. Paraffin wax is a by-product that’s left over from the refining of oil.
As a petroleum product, when burned, wax candles can release harmful and toxic carcinogens including benzene and toluene into the air. Some wax candles may also contain harmful toxic chemicals such as naphthalene and methyl ethyl ketone.
Many paraffin candles also use lead in the wick to keep the wick separated from the melted wax. Do you really want these toxic elements in the air you breathe?
Soy candles, on the other hand, are made with natural products that are a safe alternative to using paraffin.
What Are Soy Candles Made From?
The main ingredient in soy candles is soybeans. Not only does this make soy candles safe to burn, it also makes them 100% biodegradable and renewable, so you know you’re helping the environment.
Most soy candle manufacturers use soy wax that contains no harmful pesticides, herbicides, or material that has been genetically modified, which makes them an even better option for a healthy and non-toxic home.
Are Soy Candles Toxic?
Made from soybeans, some soy candles do have some other ingredients. Some soy candles may contain a fragrance and dye to add a slight scent and tinge of color. To keep things natural, look for soy candles that use fragrances and dyes without phthalates.
The wicks of soy candles are also safe to burn – made from natural hemp or cotton, they contain no lead, making them non-toxic.
Benefits of Soy Candles
Still wondering if and why you should switch from paraffin wax candles to soy? Here are the benefits of soy candles:
Soy is Cleaner Burning
Because they contain no carcinogens, pollutants, or toxins, soy candles are cleaner burning than paraffin candles. When burned, soy candles produce very little or no soot.
Any minimal amount of soot that may occur when burning a soy candle contains no petroleum carbons, which means that soy wax is much healthier for you and your family and pets to breathe.
It’s also easier on your home, leaving behind no soot residue on walls and other surfaces.
Not only are soy candles safe to burn, they also burn longer. Although generally more expensive that paraffin wax candles, the slower burn means you’ll be able to enjoy one soy candle longer than a wax candle of the same size.
One of the reasons for this is that soy wax has a lower melting point, so it burns longer and slower – about 30 to 50% longer than paraffin!
If you’re vegan and abstain from consuming or using any animal products, soy candles are for you. They also make a great gift for your vegan friends!
Most soy candles are vegan-friendly and made without the use of animal-based stearic acid, which is used to harden the wax so it’s not too soft.
Check the list of ingredients, as we’ve found that some lower quality soy candles sneak in stearic acid.
Natural Fragrance of Soy Candles
The reason that many of us burn candles isn’t just for the cozy glow, it’s often for the fragrance that’s infused into the room. But are soy candles toxic when scented?
Many candles contain synthetic ingredients to produce a scent. Not only are these fragrances overpowering, they contain phthalates that are used so that the scent is mixed in with the wax.
Toxic and harmful to you and your pets, research shows that phthalates may cause some cancers and be disruptive for the body’s endocrine system. No one wants to take this risk.
For this reason, look for soy candles that are made with safe and natural ingredients for fragrance, such as essential oils!
Natural Essential Oils
Using natural essential oils is a safe and non-toxic way to add fragrance to soy candles. Unlike synthetic scents, essential oils are made from plants and are 100% natural.
Also, essential oils derived from plants contain therapeutic and medicinal properties that can provide health benefits when they’re inhaled.
Another advantage to scented soy candles is that because soy wax burns slower than paraffin, the fragrance is gently infused into the air so it’s not at all overpowering.
Here are some common candle fragrances and their therapeutic benefits:
Lavender is ideal for reducing stress and anxiety.
Many people love the aroma of lemongrass for its refreshing and rejuvenating fragrance.
Burn a soy eucalyptus candle when you’re in the bath – the woodsy and sweet aroma is perfect when you need to recharge.
Lemon and Orange
The blend of these two citrus essential oils results in a clean, crisp, and fresh fragrance.
How To Safely Burn Soy Candles
As when burning any candle, there are a few rules for safety that you should follow:
- Place the candle on a flat and even flameproof surface away from children, pets, and drafts.
- Light candles with a grill lighter or a long fireplace match to avoid burning your fingers.
- Soy candles have what’s known as “candle memory.” What this means is that the first time you light the candle and then blow it out, at the next lighting the wax of the candle will only burn and melt out as far as it did during the first burning. For this reason, you’ll want to let your soy candle burn for a few hours the first time so that the wax burns and melts all the way to edge of the candle and the container.
- The wick of the candle should be trimmed to about ¼-inch. This will keep the wick out of the melting wax, avoiding any burning and chance of soot.
DIY Soy Candles
If you’re looking for a home DIY project, making soy candles yourself is fun and easy. And a great alternative to store-bought candles. They also make a nice gift for family and friends when you want to let them know that you took the time to make a gift instead of buying one.
The only ingredients you’ll need are soy wax (buy in bulk online), essential oils, and cotton wicks (either purchased or you can make your own).
The only supplies you’ll need to make your candles are things you most likely already have:
- mason jars
- glue gun to attach the wick to the bottom of the jar
- old pots that can be made into a double boiler
- digital kitchen scale
- kitchen thermometer
- wooden spoon
You can easily find instructions online – keep in mind that once you start making your own soy candles, you may be hooked!
Now that you know that soy candles are safe, you’re ready to go out and buy candles to adorn your home. Look for soy candles that are 100% natural and made with non-synthetic fragrances.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.