I have lots of people ask me about soy wax. How does soy compare to natural beeswax? I am not a soy candle burner and have never been one so I am not an expert. When we were in distribution we did consider distributing a soy candle. It was important for us to know that what we were distributing was a good product because we only want to be associated with the best. I remember when we tried soy candles. They came in attractive little pottery holders about the size of tealights. Being used to the bright golden flame of a beeswax candle we were surprised by the small insignificant flame. The candle hardly lasted at all and we were left looking at each other. No, we’re not going with soy. Perhaps it was this particular brand of soy, I’m not sure.
I have done some research on soy wax and this is what I’ve found so far. Soy is naturally a very soft wax. That is why you see it in containers. This really limits the variety of candles a soy candle maker can make unless they add hardeners or blend it with other waxes. Soy can only be made into tapers or pillars if it is blended or has additives. Alternatively natural beeswax is very versatile and lends itself to any candle form. Buyers in stores that are familiar with soy candles and not beeswax often express concerns about shipping candles in the summer. This is because soy has little tolerance to heat while shipping and may melt in the summer heat. I reassure them that this isn’t the case with beeswax. I wouldn’t recommend that you stick a beeswax candle in a hot window. It would last much longer than soy but it may warp a little if hot enough and the sun fades the golden color.
Unlike beeswax, soy can go rancid. Maybe that is why it is often scented with fragrances. More often than not those fragrances are synthetic rather than pure essential oils. Soy is usually bleached. The color of beeswax is determined by the flowers the bees are on and can be adjusted through the filtering process.
A very real advantage of soy wax is that you can clean it up with soap and water. Both soy and beeswax are a clean burning renewable resource. Beeswax has a rich golden flame that burns hot. Soy has a cool, smaller flame.
We did a test burn recently comparing a Honey Candles® pure natural beeswax votive (pictured on the left) and a very popular brand of soy wax candle (on the right). The soy candle came in a votive cup because likely it is necessary to be poured in a cup or other container. The wax was very soft. It had to be protected by a plastic ring and when I rubbed the top of the candle the wax came off on my finger. Please see the photo of the soy wax votive and our beeswax votive burning side by side. I’ve wondered about the claims of long burning soy wax candles. There is a local brand that claims to burn 50 hours! Since they are so soft how can they burn so long without hardeners? I think part of my answer came when I looked at the flame. It is so small. It would burn wax very slowly. The soy wax flame is half or less the size of the beeswax flame. We had a set of three soy wax votives. We followed the instructions to the letter but of the three only two would stay lit. I also thought about that glass votive cup. Does that mean each time you buy one of these soy votives you have to buy the cup too and you can’t reuse the votive cup? Maybe save the votive cup and buy a Honey Candles® beeswax votive next time to put in it.
Of grave concern is the amount of soy that is genetically modified and the consequences of that. Genetically modified soybeans often mean they are Round-Up ready. By Monsanto's own admission that means they can spray Round-Up through the stages of the growth of the plant. That could be a lot of pesticide! What about you, the one who eats what the plant produces? I would hope that would be a major consideration for any consumer and manufacturer of a natural product. Soy from South America particularly is to be avoided. Soy wax is seen as a vegan alternative to beeswax but anyone just needs to see big farming practices with big equipment tearing through the soil to see that raising soy beans is not so creature friendly.
To read more about candle wax comparisons.