In my constant efforts to stay up-to-date on the most eco-friendly personal- and home-care practices, I’ve done a bit of research on soy wax and soy candles. Truth-be-told, this bit of research was also spurred by a friend’s budding company (Bougie Candles) which specializes in vegan, non-GMO, pesticide and herbicide free soy-wax candles.
So, one thing I found out is that most candles are made of paraffin, which is basically refined and processed crude oil. The pretty smelling candle on my desk just got less pretty when I put in perspective of oil rigs, refineries and the devastated ecosystems along the gulf coast. The alternatives to paraffin are basically beeswax and soy wax. Beeswax is a by-product of honey collection – and there is therefore collected in relatively small quantities. Beeswax candles can be pretty expensive.
While I know there are some major concerns with the large-scale soybean harvest market, specifically related to biofuels, I think that confronted with the choice I’d prefer to by beeswax or soy based candles, especially if I know where the bees live or the soy is grown. Read labels carefully, check for non-GMO products and all the rest.
Soy has a few other perks too – it burns at a lower temperature than paraffin so less chance of a wax burn and doesn’t stain if it gets on clothing or furniture. Since I’m kind of clumsy, these things help. As my family can attest to, I spent many Christmas-eve services with burned fingers from the candle-lite “Silent Night” portion of the evening!
As with most things on the market today, it’s important to think before you buy, understand your options and know that you can influence the market with your purchases — buy smart!