The history of soy wax
Michael Richards invented an alternative wax for candle-making in 1991 because beeswax was too costly and because he wasn’t happy with paraffin’s’ impact on the environment.
To create the first version of vegetable wax, he combined hydrogenated vegetable oils. This was the beginning of the modern era in soy wax.
Although it is not a pure soy-based wax, the invention is still in use today. Let’s make a little more room and talk about natural wax.
Natural wax refers to candle wax made from oils.
Hydrogenation, a fancy term for transforming soybean oil to a solid, creates soy wax. Hydrogenation can be described as a fancy term for how scientists transform a liquid fat into solid wax.
Although this definition is not perfect, the key part of hydrogenation comes down to the fact that all liquid oil from soybeans is used.
Soy wax, a relatively new wax in candle-making, has established a firm foothold. Soy wax was created in response to growing demand for natural candles. It is an alternative to petroleum-derived parabens and natural, but more expensive, beeswax. Soy wax can be made in many different melting points and blends, but the most popular are container-based candle blends. Soy waxes can be made entirely from soybean oil. Some are made from 100% soybean oil. Others can be blended with vegetable oils (like coconut oil) or waxes (like beeswax and palm). There are paraffin/soy combinations that combine both waxes. It is considered a soy wax mixture if the blend contains at least 51% soybeans.
How natural is soy wax?
Soy wax can only be natural as the entire process allows. From soybean seed to candle:
Clearing land to plant soybeans. South America continues its boom as a source for soybean crops. This forces soybean traders to priorities soybean traceability in order to avoid unnecessary deforestation.
It doesn’t take into account common candle components that may not be natural.
Fragrance- using synthetic or essential oils
Wick is often made of cotton (a farmed commodity), or paper (trees).
Container- Material varies if used
It is not possible to say that the final product is 100% natural unless candles are grown on trees.
However, soybeans are a renewable resource so it’s nice.
Even though the wax is from a farmed crop, consistency between batches can be variable. The wax can be affected by many factors, including the quality of the seed, the farming technique used, and the transportation conditions.
These factors can cause wax to vary in a variety of ways, even if they are the same type.
Paraffin is more dense than soy wax, but it tends to be softer than soybean wax.
Because soy wax is a heavy substance, it can cause poor scent performance. It’s harder for wicks not to be too big and throw the scent. Paraffin has a higher hot throw than soy wax, but it usually produces less heat.
Soy wax’s cold throw is one of its strengths.
It is difficult to add color to soy. Most dyes are muted to some degree, and imperfections such as frosting can disrupt a consistent appearance.
Soybean cultivation and care. Herbicides are used to control insects, while herbicides can be used to combat weeds. Many farms also use genetically modified soybeans to improve the quality and overall yield.
Harvesting, transporting and processing the crops. Farm equipment and trucking/freight move the crop to the processing plants. These methods may or not be sustainable, and some crops may ship across the ocean for processing.
Chemical methods extract oil from the beans. Scientists use hexane instead of sucking the beans… that would take forever).
Chemistry is responsible for creating the solid wax by hydrogenation. Chemists also use other chemical additives to improve the properties of the wax, making it “candle-friendly”. The blend’s components include color, shelf life, melt point and other important factors.
Then, you can arrange for any amount of transportation to supply candles makers or suppliers.
How to Choose a Wax
Different soy waxes can be used for candle-making.
There are many options on the market, even if you ignore the differences within one type of soy wax. Their chemical properties, additives and the ratio of soy to other vegetable oils differ.