It turns out there are several different types of wax to make candles for different purposes. I tend to work mostly with beeswax but with our pending bee extinction (pay attention to this guys, it’s important) I’ve switched to soy.
- Soy Wax is a vegetable wax made from soybean oil. After a harvest, soybeans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes from which oil is extracted and hydrogenated. This saturates the fatty acids in the oil to alter the oil’s melting point. This makes it solid at room temperature (think coconut oil). I like working with soy wax because of how renewable soybeans are (for now). Soy candles can be a little pricier but the wax made to use them is economically friendly, renewable, sustainable and carbon neutral. So you’re paying a little extra to feel good about your purchase.
- Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum, coal or oil shale and was created to burn cleanly. This is created from slack wax – a mixture of oil and wax as created by accident during the refining process of lubricating oil. I tend to shy away from paraffin wax simply because of how much I prefer using a sustainable, green wax like that derived from soy.
- Beeswax burns cleanly and can have a lovely, subtle honey scent which works well with lots of essential oils. The problem however is that beeswax is so dense that oils don’t tend to bind to it as well so you have to use strong oils like peppermint or clove. Putting rosehip or lavender oil into beeswax is basically throwing it away unless you use several tablespoons which weakens the wax and will leave you broke. Beeswax also burns very slowly meaning you’ll need a stronger, thicker wick – the price of these tends to add up as well.
All of these wax types will likely stain or stick to any receptacles with which they come into contact during your candle-making, so maybe you should make yourself a cute little studio if you’re going to be experimenting with candle-making. I’d be happy to get you started with a little sample packs so you can experiment with different wax types before deciding how you want to proceed. Wax spills will also stain your carpeting or any textiles, so I advise setting aside a space for this hobby. Getting your carpets cleaned is already expensive, getting wax out will cost you extra!