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What’s the Difference Between Natural Wax and Paraffin Candles?

The choice between natural wax and paraffin candles isn’t always obvious - even if you’ve used both types, but there’s actually a lot to weigh up. Each has specific qualities - from fragrance performance to eco-friendliness. Here’s a quick and simple guide

Paraffin Wax Candles at a Glance

One of the most common waxes today and has many uses (did you know it can be used for protecting ice-rinks?), you’ll find many candles made from paraffin. Paraffin wax is made from the sludge waste left by crude oil when refined into gasoline, so although lauded for its versatility, we now know it’s also toxic when lit because of the carcinogens created. As a result, natural wax candles have gained in popularity.

paraffin vs natural wax

An easy way to identify a paraffin candle is the colour. Paraffin wax can be coloured, whilst a truly natural wax candle can’t. So, whilst coloured candles may look attractive on the shelves, they may be hiding some not-so-attractive ingredients.

Additionally, many scented candles made from paraffin also feature heavy metals such as lead. Even a few hours of burning can create high levels of airborne heavy metals considered hazardous to children; low-level exposure has been shown to cause hypertension, neurobehavioral changes and several other problems. Likewise, since many candles of this kind feature artificial scents and dyes, they release other harmful chemicals.

paraffin vs natural wax candles

The soot that’s also produced by paraffin wax candles can also get into the air, and it can be particularly harmful to the lungs when inhaled.

Natural Wax Candles – A Safer Alternative

How do natural wax candles differ from the paraffin variety? For a start, there are many different types of natural wax candle, each with their own benefits to enjoy.

Beeswax

Used by the Ancient Egyptians, beeswax is among the oldest candle-making waxes, and is produced, as the name suggests, by bees during the honey-making process. Since it’s naturally infused with honey it has a noticeably sweet fragrance which is flavoured and informed by the flowers or plants the bees are feeding on. After being harvested from the beehive, it’s melted and filtered several times before being into shaped into candles.

paraffin vs natural wax candles

Due to their smokeless, soot-free burning, beeswax candles are said to be the healthiest available. In fact, beeswax contains so few chemicals, it’s even used to purify air. Since beeswax releases negative ions when it burns, it negates the positive ions carried by pollen, dirt and other pollutants. These neutralised ions are effectively sucked back into the burning candle or fall to the ground. Good news for those with allergies, sensitivities and asthma too – beeswax is hypo-allergenic, so it won’t cause any unwanted flare-ups when lit.

They have the highest melting points of any kind of wax, which means the burn time is significantly longer, making them a more cost-effective purchase. And they don’t drip anywhere near as much as paraffin candles, so they’re a cleaner addition to your living space.

Soy Wax

A relatively new candle-making wax, soy wax was developed in the early 1990s as an alternative to both paraffin and beeswax, which can be quite expensive. More environmentally friendly than paraffin, it burns at a slower rate, produces less soot and tends to be cheaper than the majority of other waxes.

paraffin vs natural wax candles

The scent produced by soy wax candles is also much subtler. The fragrances contained within this variety of candle aren’t as heavy or overpowering, which makes it an excellent choice for people who prefer softer, gentler scents.

Environmentally speaking, soy wax production is a bit of a thorny issue. While it’s still a better choice than paraffin wax, soybean oil is a by-product of the controversial soybean industry. As a result, concerns have been raised over deforestation and the use of pesticides and fertilisers used to grow the bean itself. However, candles made from organic soy wax circumvent the problems created in production.

Coconut Wax

The newest variety of candle wax, coconut is proving to be a popular choice with candle-makers right now. Though it’s more expensive than the others we’ve mentioned here, many feel that it’s still well worth the price tag.

Lauded for its luxury, coconut wax has an opulent creamy hue to it, with a longer, cleaner burn than soy wax. It’s arguably more natural than soy, too, because it’s organic, eco-friendlier to harvest, and comes from a sustainable, easily renewable crop. It’s also wonderfully fragrant, especially next to beeswax, with a more powerful scent throw that swirls superb aromas around your home, even when unlit.

paraffin vs natural wax candles

Palm Wax

Initially, palm wax made quite the positive impact on the candle-making scene. It’s ‘feathered’ appearance was aesthetically pleasing, and it burned in a similar way to paraffin. However, a 2009 investigation discovered that, in order to meet the demands of palm wax candles, huge swathes of forest were being chopped down and many species of animal were endangered as a result. Production has drastically dropped, and even now, it’s extremely difficult to source truly sustainable palm oil products.

Parks Bespoke Natural Wax Candles

Now you know the differences in candle type, you can set the mood using other means with one of Parks’ many natural wax candles. A safer, more eco-friendly option, none of our products use paraffin, petroleum or palm wax, or use crops raised with synthetic fertilisers, pesticides or inorganic hormones.

We stand by our use of 100% natural wax for its myriad benefits, and the peace of mind they bring when used in the home. Additionally, our wicks are lead-free and made from natural fibres; we’ve created over 40 different types of wicks to ensure the perfect burn when combined with coreless CleanBurn technology and your fragrance of choice.

For more information on our beautiful home fragrances and natural wax products, visit the Parks homepage today.