Candles & Wax Melts | Crafts | Uncategorized

What Is The Best Wax For Candles? Soy vs. Beeswax vs. Paraffin

Decide for yourself which is the best wax for candles after comparing paraffin vs. soy wax vs. beeswax side by side.

Candle Wax Comparison: soy vs. beeswax vs. paraffin overhead view of 4 candles each made with a different type of wax

When I first started making my own candles, I had a lot of questions. One of the first things I needed to decide was which type of wax to use.

Natural soy candles are all the rage, but they do have their limitations. Paraffin wax is popular, but has been getting some bad press lately. And what about beeswax?

So let’s talk about the different varieties of wax for candle making, the pros and cons of each, and where you can find the best inexpensive candle wax when you’re getting started. Then you can decide which type of wax is best for your purposes.

Paraffin Wax

We’ll start with paraffin since it’s the most common, oldest, and well-known variety of candle wax on the market. If you want to make tallow candles out of beef fat (Little House On the Prairie style), this may not be your article.

What is Paraffin Wax?

Paraffin wax is a byproduct of the petroleum refining process. It’s what most traditional and commercial candles are made from because it’s inexpensive, readily available, and relatively easy to work with.

It’s also versatile and more chemically stable than other more natural waxes. This means it won’t diminish in quality over time, change color, etc. A paraffin candle is ready to use as soon as the wax has cooled, meaning it doesn’t need to cure for a few weeks in order to properly release its fragrance.

close-up of paraffin wax cut into chunks

Paraffin wax most often comes in large blocks, and you can cut it into chunks with a kitchen knife to make the pieces more manageable and easier to melt.

large block of paraffin wax being cut into chunks with a kitchen knife

It’s translucent in its solid form, and clear when melted (see below).

overhead view of glass bowl with clear melted paraffin wax in it

How to Melt Paraffin Wax

The most common method is to melt paraffin wax in a double-boiler. I like to use a metal pitcher like this one inside a pot of hot water on the stovetop.

metal pitcher filled with pieces of paraffin, ready to be melted to make candles
overhead view of a double boiler on the stove melting paraffin wax for candle making

You can also melt it in a glass container in the microwave. Just keep in mind that this type of wax is a serious pain to clean up, so the fewer pots and utensils it touches, the better.

And if you’re planning a larger-scale candle-making operation you’ll want to get a big electric wax melter like this one.

How to Make Paraffin Candles

Here’s a simple paraffin candle tutorial to get you started. You can substitute any fragrance oil and color you like for the citronella in this recipe.

How to Make Citronella Candles

close up of hand pouring paraffin into a candle holder to make a DIY citronella candle

Paraffin Wax Prices

If you want a small quantity of paraffin it’s pricey at around $9.35 per pound. But it is MUCH cheaper in bulk- around $3.84 per pound if you buy 10 pounds.

Melting Point

Paraffin melts in the range of 125 to 165 degrees Farrenheit. Most fragrance oil manufacturers recommend adding the fragrance when the wax is between 180 and 185 degrees. I like to use an inexpensive digital thermometer like this one to check the temperature.

Scent Throw

Here are a couple of candle making terms you’ll come across:

Cold Throw

The amount of fragrance a candle gives off when unlit.

Hot Throw

The amount & strength of fragrance a candle puts out when burning.

These are subjective terms, but in general, paraffin is the best wax of the lot when it comes to holding and then releasing fragrance when burned. Once you begin to experiment, you’ll understand this better.

Fragrance Load

Fragrance load refers to the amount (generally a percentage) of fragrance oil that a particular variety of wax can hold. If you add too much oil, you’ll end up with little pools of it on the top of your candle once the wax is hardened. Not enough oil, and your candle will smell like… well nothing.

Paraffin has a fragrance load between

candle fragrance oil being poured into a metal pitcher full of hot wax

Appearance

Paraffin is slightly translucent in its solid state, so the candles will have a similar appearance.

4 candles lined up next to the kinds of wax used to make each one- paraffin, soy, and beeswax

Because of this, it generally produces the deepest and brightest colors when wax dye is added to it.

collage of 4 images- pack of candle wax dye, close-up of orange wax dye chips, orange wax colorant being sprinkled into hot wax, and orange wax ready to be poured to make a candle

This is my favorite inexpensive wax dye kit from Amazon (pictured above). I like it because each color is in a resealable container.

large rustic orange paraffin candle with 3 wicks

Additives

You will often find paraffin blends with different additives for different applications.

Where to Buy

1lb from Amazon I used this wax for the side-by-side burn test below and it performed well. It comes in quantities of up to 6 lbs., and gets cheaper the more you buy.

10 lbs from Amazon I’ve used this all-purpose paraffin wax for several projects and been very happy with the results.

Paraffin Wax Pros

  • inexpensive and readily available
  • good scent throw
  • best wax for pillar candles
  • very versatile
  • won’t change and discolor over time

Paraffin Wax Cons

  • petroleum product
  • bad for indoor air quality
  • hard to clean up
  • fastest burning wax so candles won’t last as long

Soy Wax

What is Soy Wax?

soybeans hanging on a vine

Soy wax is quickly gaining popularity because soy is a sustainable resource, it’s natural and non-toxic, and therefore safer to burn indoors.

close up of soy wax flakes on a wood cutting board
overhead view of a glass bowl of melted soy wax

Soy Wax Prices

Soy wax ranges from $11.22/lb for a small quantity, to $3.69/lb for 10 lbs.

Where to Buy

This is my favorite reasonably-priced soy wax brand from Amazon. It comes with cotton wicks and centering devices, which you’ll also need for your candles. I’ve bought this one many, many times.

large bag of soy wax flakes ready to be made into DIY candles

I also like Supernatural Soy Flakes from Makesy. They also have fabulous all-natural candle fragrance oils, so if you’re going to order the fragrance oils, the soy wax will help you get free shipping.

How to Make Soy Candles

Here’s a step-by-step soy candle making tutorial:

How to Make Soy Candles: A Beginner’s Guide

overhead view of 6 DIY soy candles

How to Melt Soy Wax

I like to melt soy wax in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. It’s quick and easy, and you can wash any utensils you use in the dishwasher. Just heat it in one-minute intervals, taking it out to stir and check the temperature each time. I use this digital meat thermometer to keep tabs on the temperature.

overhead view of a glass measuring cup of half-melted soy wax flakes

You can also melt soy wax in a double-boiler like the one used for the paraffin wax above.

Appearance

In its solid state, soy wax is a very light cream, almost white. It’s opaque, so while it takes color nicely, it requires more wax dye than paraffin to achieve deep or bright colors.

four candles lined up from left to right: paraffin, soy wax, white beeswax and yellow beeswax

Here’s a Christmas tree scented soy candle with green wax dye added to it. As you can see, it’s much more opaque than the paraffin candles.

close up of a green Christ tree scented candle made with soy wax

Scent Throw

Soy Wax Pros

  • all natural product
  • environmentally friendly & sustainable
  • inexpensive
  • better for indoor air quality
  • good scent throw
  • easy to work with
  • easy to clean up

Soy Wax Cons

  • too soft for pillar & molded candles
  • can discolor over time

Beeswax

What is Beeswax?

Beeswax is produced by honeybees. It’s a secretion from their abdomens. They use the wax to create honeycomb, which serves as both the structure of the hive and storage compartments for honey.

honeybees on a honeycomb background

The honeycomb is harvested, drained of honey, and then melted down over hot water to separate out any debris to produce commercially available beeswax for candle making, personal care products, etc.

Since it’s an all-natural product, it can have quite a bit of variation in color, quality, and melting point, which makes it one of the more difficult candle waxes to work with.

And while it is produced in nature and is supposed to be healthy for indoor air quality, beeswax is not considered vegan and many people don’t consider it to be an environmentally friendly option, since the bee

Yellow vs. White Beeswax

It comes in two colors- yellow and white, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Both types have gone through a refinement process and been filtered to remove debris and impurities.

two small piles of beeswax pastilles- yellow beeswax on the left and white beeswax on the right

But the yellow or sometimes amber-colored beeswax is closer to its natural state. I’ve found that it tends to retain it’s sweet beeswax scent as well. So most yellow beeswax candles don’t have fragrance oil or wax dyes added to them.

Beeswax Prices

Yellow beeswax tends to cost a bit more than white, averaging $17 per pound for a single pound, to $9.74 per pound when purchased in 10 pound bulk. It comes in both bars and pastilles, but I strongly recommend the pastilles (like the ones pictured above) since they’re MUCH easier to pour and measure. Plus they melt faster.

bars of  beeswax lined up

White beeswax ranges from an average of $14.63 for one pound, to $3.57/lb for 10 pounds.

It’s refined to remove impurities, and then it goes through a natural bleaching process. It’s generally less fragrant on its own, so it is a better option if you’re wanting to add other fragrances to your candles. I also want to mention that naturally bleached “white” beeswax isn’t truly white. It’s more of a dark cream color (see below).

close up of a hand holding a few white beeswax pastilles
white beeswax pastilles next to a glass bowl of melted white beeswax

Where to Buy Beeswax

How to Melt Beeswax

For small batches, you can melt beeswax either in a glass measuring cup in the microwave, or in a double-boiler on the stove top (my preferred method). It’s important to keep a close eye on the temperature because it can scorch if it gets above _____ degrees.

Beeswax is a hard wax and has a high melting point, which means it takes longer to melt than other types of wax. You will also have less time to work with it, as it solidifies very quickly once it’s removed from the heat source. If you’re used to working with soy or paraffin, you’ll definitely notice that the beeswax takes FOREVER to melt!

How to Make Beeswax Candles

Here are my tutorials for beeswax:

How to Make Beeswax Candles

overhead view of burning beeswax candles

DIY Beeswax Wax Melts

beeswax wax melts in a wax warmer

Beeswax Pros

  • natural & non-toxic
  • nice scent
  • slowest-burning wax

Beeswax Cons

  • most expensive
  • not good for the bees
  • more difficult to work with because of high melting point
  • tunneling is common in beeswax candles

Clean Up

This article would not be complete without discussion of the dreaded clean up after making candles. Aside from the excess wax left behind on your containers and utensils, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a mess on your counter top too. And I’m assuming you have better things to do than sit around scratching hardened wax off of everything.

I like to use a counter scraper like this one for easy clean up. Totally worth it and you’ll use it for other kitchen messes too! This is effective with every type of wax I’ve worked with.

One of my favorite things about soy wax is that it cleans up with soap and water. I actually just remove the excess wax and throw my utensils in the dishwasher.

Unfortunately the clean up is a bit more difficult with paraffin and beeswax.

Burn Test

I made four basic candles with identical glass jars and wicks to test the performance of the different waxes side-by-side and to show their flames and burn rates.

These are pure forms of each wax and they do not have any fragrance oil or wax dye added to them.

Observations

This was an interesting experiment because although I’ve worked extensively with these waxes, this was my first time observing them side-by-side. I was a little surprised by a few of the results, so I made another batch to double-check that my results weren’t just a fluke. Here’s what I noticed:

  • The paraffin candles had the tallest flames, flickered the most, and produced the most visible smoke. It also left the most soot on the jar. They also both cracked the glass jars they were in while burning.
  • The yellow beeswax candles always had the smallest flames the smallest wax pools that never reached all the edges of the containers. So even though beeswax is the slowest-burning wax, it didn’t really make for longer-lasting candles, since a lot of the wax was wasted.
  • The paraffin burned the fastest by far
  • The flame colors looked to be about the same for all four candles

What’s the Best Wax for Candles?

After A LOT of experimenting over the past few years, I’ve decided that soy wax is my favorite for general purpose candles and wax melts. Aside from price and general health benefits, it is by far the easiest to clean up. And that is a pretty big deal for me.

I hope you found this guide helpful! Let me know your favorite wax in the comments!

How to Make Soy Candles: A Beginner’s Guide

The Best Fragrance Oils for Candles (That Actually Smell Good!)

The Best Candle Jars & Tins & Where To Get Them

rows of candle jars

How to Make Wax Melts: Everything You Need to Know

The Best Wax Melt Molds for Every Occasion!

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2 Comments

  1. I’m really enjoying your page! I have learned more about making candles in just two of your posts than I have trying to dive through the internet. Thank you!

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