There are three candle waxes primarily considered 'natural', soy wax, palm wax and beeswax.
What does natural mean? The simple definition of ‘natural’ made by the Merriam-Webster dictionary states:
- existing in nature and not made or caused by people:coming from nature
- not having any extra substances or chemicals added : not containing anything artificial
- usual or expected
Is candle wax still natural if it is hydrogenated to make it hard? I found this article on soy wax production interesting. You may too. It told me more about soy wax production than I have been able to find anywhere before. Soy wax people hold the mysteries of soy wax production pretty close and don’t disclose much. The article says soy oil is bleached to make candle wax. The hydrogenation of soy wax is achieved in the presence of heat and a nickel catalyst. Does that mean nickel becomes part of the wax? The article also goes on to say that this hydrogenation process will produce a wax suitable for container candles. To make harder wax needed for something like votives, stearic acid (which comes from animal or vegetable fat) or paraffin must be added to soy wax.
Palm wax is the other vegetable wax that is considered natural. One maker of palm wax says it is made by separating fatty acids from palm oil using extreme fluctuations in temperature and pressure. They also say they don’t add anything to it. They have a chart which compares palm wax to soy wax and paraffin. I found these comparisons interesting but what jumped out at me is they did not compare palm wax to beeswax. We used to make palm wax candles until 2009. Palm wax candles have crystalline patterns in the wax and are very pretty. You might be interested in reading why we decided to stop making palm wax candles.
Beeswax only needs to be well filtered to make beautiful candles. Beeswax is the only natural wax essentially used in its native state. We consider it a gift of nature. It is the purest and most natural of waxes with the least processing and no additives.
We do our own candle wax comparisons here. I recommend that you take the time to read it. Candle wax comparisons comes in the second half of this article:
I have asked a few questions throughout this article – because I can’t find the answers. If you know the answer please tell us. I leave it with you. If you were looking for a ‘natural’ candle which wax would you choose? I am curious - do you base your choice on price or purity?
Photo by Marlie Marchewka